Bitcoin is flying everywhere in Europe and America – but in Africa, take up has so far been sluggish. Will Ghana be the catalyst for a Bitcoin revolution in the Global South?
Most Africans have heard about Bitcoin – but are oblivious to its essence. They may have seen it on the news, or considered leveraging it as a means of transferring money to emigrant relatives. But the prevailing understanding is that bitcoin is no different to any other currency – susceptible to corruption and easy to steal.
But in Ghana, Bitcoin is gathering momentum. Though they are few, Ghana is blessed with a smattering of first-rate advocates who are trying their best to ensure that Bitcoin becomes a reliable medium of exchange. They are part of the ‘Cheetah Generation’. A network of bright, young and tech-minded entrepreneurs who believe in hard work and disruptive solutions.
“Cheetahs are the new and angry generation of young African graduates and professionals, who look at African issues and problems from a totally different and unique perspective,” explains expert Ghanaian economist, George Ayittey. “They are dynamic, intellectually agile, and pragmatic.”
The Cheetahs of Ghana are now taking serious interest in cryptocurrency, and Bitcoin especially. A new kind of money, free from central authority or banks, with the potential to save Africa from the ruinous practices of intellectual buffoons? “Yes please,” say the Cheetahs. Driven by this new generation, Ghana has the potential to become Africa’s Number One “Bitcoin-Nation”.
So, for anybody not in the know, what’s so great about Bitcoin? Why are Ghana’s brightest young minds piling in to support it? What makes it so much better than the traditional Fiat money we all know and loathe?
- Anonymity: In a Bitcoin system, account holders’ names are not linked to their address, increasing account holder anonymity. This means that persecution via the seizure of monetary assets will become a thing of the past.
- Transparency: Transactions are recorded in an open public ledger, known as a ‘blockchain’.
- Decentralized: No central authority or bank controls Bitcoin
- Pro-business: Bitcoin allows for more buying power
- Fast, cheap and convenient: a bitcoin account can be set up by anyone, and there is a single small fee, unlike banks and money transfers
For these reasons, I teamed up with Agyenim Boateng Boniface to form BitUnit Foundation. We research and promote ways Bitcoin and digital money can benefit small enterprise, the self-employed and Africa’s Average Joe. We want to educate the masses and make them aware of the significance of Bitcoin’s arrival in Africa. If we can ignite and unite the markets of Africa through education and advocacy we will be able to foster mass adoption of Bitcoin, not just in Ghana or Africa, but across the world.
Bitcoin and Blockchain tech have the potential to transform the lives of those who are underserved in many parts of Africa. One of the ways we look to help is by creating jobs, i.e. by offering employment opportunities at our Person-2-Person exchange. The exchange is an essential part of any cryptocurrency network and will eventually facilitate the conversion from Bitcoin to local currencies in Ghana, and all around Africa.
Currently, Africa’s Bitcoin uptake is nowhere near the level it could be; poverty issues, lack of education and, in some cases, an irrational fear of technology are all challenges that must be overcome if the cryptocurrency is to truly thrive. If Africa is to accept Bitcoin, we need to proactively spread the cryptocurrency gospel to each corner of the continent.
It is, therefore, the responsibility of every member of the tech tribe to help people from wider society develop a clear understanding of Bitcoin – and of how it has the power to transform their lives.