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With the population rapidly adopting bitcoin, Africa is ignoring the classic narratives and becoming the world’s center of the financial future.
Africa is leading the way for global Bitcoin adoption – pioneering the first true peer-to-peer movement on Earth. While many parts of the developed world focus on the speculative activity of bitcoin, people in Africa are informing us about their real use cases and the opportunity they present for greater financial inclusion of bitcoin.
Much of the history goes back to the Western narrative that paints a negative picture of Africa, associating the continent only with poverty, disease and corruption. But their role in this financial revolution tells a different story. We are witnessing an unrivaled explosion of wealth, technological progress and ingenuity that speaks volumes.
After all, Bitcoin is for the millions, not the millionaires. It is often forgotten that the Bitcoin White Paper talked about Bitcoin as a peer-to-peer financial system for the masses. For example, the first sentence of the Bitcoin white paper reads: “A purely peer-to-peer issuance of electronic cash will allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution.” In order to carry out its true purpose, we need to focus less on rapid minting of millionaires through speculation and meme coins, and focus our efforts on bitcoin as a medium of exchange.
Africa has been cited as the third fastest growing cryptocurrency economy with Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and Tanzania being ranked in the Chainalysis Top 20 Global Cryptocurrency Index. Its widespread adoption in Africa is evident because Bitcoin bridges the economic gap, catering to both personal finance and entrepreneurial needs, including remittances, e-commerce, payments, wealth preservation and social benefit. With more than half of Africa’s population without a traditional bank account, Bitcoin provides a solution for the unbanked by offering financial services to anyone regardless of social class, location or income.
Other driving factors in the mass adoption of bitcoin in the country include instability in global financial markets, strict capital controls on outflows, and high transaction costs for financial services, among many others. This is exacerbated by the economic impact of the pandemic, which has affected most economies around the world.
Tightening the political landscape in Nigeria, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has imposed a ban on all regulated financial institutions from providing services to cryptocurrency exchanges in the country. In late October, it introduced eNaira, hoping to reduce interest for those who want to use Bitcoin. But despite these efforts, Bitcoin usage continues to thrive across the country with young Nigerians mobilizing and leading the process.
The new generation of Nigerians
Youth are the cornerstone of the country’s growth and development. Nigeria is one of the youngest populations in the world, with over 75% of its population under the age of 35. Highly determined and resourceful Nigeria’s youth are leading the continent into the financial golden age.
Take Joseph Iboka, for example, a Paxfull user in Nigeria who buys pieces of art with bitcoin. Most of his earnings are in cryptocurrencies and it is more convenient for him to pay for goods and services with Bitcoin. Stories like Ebuka redefine our understanding of Bitcoin use cases and highlight its importance in everyday transactions.
The entrepreneurial spirit along with the intense drive and business aptitude of Nigerian youths ultimately boost the grassroots economy, an economy we should all pay more attention to.
shoes on the floor
Bitcoin mass adoption begins and ends with education. Financial literacy should really be, but many people are deprived of it – and with it comes the isolation from the global economy. For the people of developing countries, Bitcoin can be a gateway to a brighter financial future through its various use cases, but we need to continue to highlight its true value and untapped potential. It is our responsibility to provide education about the opportunities that Bitcoin can provide for financial freedom.
To take us to the next level, we need to embody the “shoes on the floor” mentality. In 2021 alone, I traveled to Africa to open two schools through the Built With Bitcoin Foundation, launched the PaxNaija Education Center to Empower Nigerians Through Bitcoin Education, and met dozens of community members on the ground. Everything I’ve learned about Bitcoin is staying connected to the streets – watching, listening and emulating the bustling spirit of the Nigerian people.
We are living in the biggest financial revolution of our time. Africa pioneered the use of bitcoin as a medium of exchange in a shattered financial system, eliminating stereotypes along the way. The next ten years will be the brightest in human history.
This is a guest post by Ray Youssef. The opinions expressed are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.