With a population rapidly adopting Bitcoin, Africa is dismissing classic narratives and becoming the world’s epicenter for the financial future.
Africa is leading the way for global Bitcoin adoption — pioneering the first truly peer-to-peer movement on the ground. While many parts of the developed world are fixated on the speculative activity of bitcoin, people in Africa are teaching us about its true use cases and the opportunity it presents for greater financial inclusion of the underbanked.
Much of history is rooted in the Western narrative that paints a negative picture of Africa, associating the continent solely with poverty, disease and corruption. But their role in this financial revolution tells a different story. We are seeing an unrivaled explosion of wealth, technological advancement and ingenuity that speaks volumes.
After all, Bitcoin is for the millions, not the millionaires. It’s often forgotten that the Bitcoin white paper spoke about Bitcoin as a peer-to-peer financial system for the masses. For example, the first sentence of the Bitcoin white paper stated, “A purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash would 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 minting quick millionaires through speculation and meme coins, and focus our efforts on Bitcoin as a means of exchange.
A BURSTING ECONOMY
Africa was cited as the third-fastest growing cryptocurrency economy with Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Tanzania ranking in Chainalysis’ Top 20 Global Crypto Adoption Index. Its widespread adoption in Africa is clear as Bitcoin bridges the economic gap, fulfilling both personal finance needs and entrepreneurial ventures, including remittance, e-commerce, payments, wealth preservation and social good. With over half of the population of Africa without a traditional bank account, Bitcoin provides a solution for the unbanked by bringing financial services to anyone regardless of social class, location or income.
Other driving factors in the country’s mass adoption of Bitcoin include instability in the global financial markets, stringent capital controls on outflows, high transaction costs on financial services, among many others. This is compounded by the economic impact of the pandemic, which has affected most economies around the world.
Narrowing in on the political landscape in Nigeria, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) placed a ban on all regulated financial institutions from providing services to crypto exchanges in the country. In late October, it introduced the eNaira, hoping to reduce interest for those wanting to use Bitcoin. But despite these efforts, the use of Bitcoin has continued to flourish across the country with Nigerian youth mobilizing and leading the charge.
THE NEW GENERATION OF NIGERIANS
The youth are the bedrock on which a country’s growth and development is predicated. Nigeria has one of the youngest populations in the world, with over 75% of its population under the age of 35. Highly determined and resourceful, the youth of Nigeria are leading the continent into the financial golden age.
Take Joseph Ebuka for example, a Paxful user in Nigeria who buys art pieces with bitcoin. Most of his earnings are in cryptocurrency and it’s more convenient for him to pay for goods and services with bitcoin. Stories like Ebuka’s are redefining our understanding of the use cases of Bitcoin and highlighting its importance in everyday transactions.
The entrepreneurial spirit combined with the intense drive and business aptitude of the Nigerian youth is ultimately fostering a grassroots economy, one that we should all be paying greater attention to.
BOOTS ON THE GROUND
Mass adoption of Bitcoin begins and ends with education. Financial literacy should be a right, but many people are denied this — and with that comes isolation from the global economy. For the people of developing nations, Bitcoin can be a gateway to a brighter financial future through its different use cases, but we need to continue to highlight its real value and untapped potential. It is our responsibility to provide education on the opportunities that Bitcoin can provide for financial freedom.
To take us to the next level, we need to embody the “boots on the ground” mentality. In 2021 alone, I traveled to Africa to open two schools through the Built With Bitcoin Foundation, launched the PaxNaija Educational Center to empower Nigerians through Bitcoin education, and met with dozens of local community members on the ground. Everything I have learned about Bitcoin is from staying connected to the streets — watching, listening and emulating the hustling spirit of the Nigerian people.
We are living in the biggest financial revolution of our time. Africa has pioneered Bitcoin as a means of exchange in a financial system that is broken, tearing down stereotypes along the way. The next 10 years will be the brightest in human history.
This is a guest post by Ray Youssef. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.