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Bitcoin in Africa

Meet the top 10 Women Driving Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Adoption in Africa

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Women driving the adoption of bitcoin and blockchain in Africa
African Women Driving Crypto & Blockchain Adoption

Cryptocurrency adoption is growing massively in the African continent. This is quite evident through the rate of increase in crypto asset ownership, crypto trading and crypto education in the continent. Arcane Research and Luno published a report that revealed that Uganda, Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, and Kenya are frequently among the top 10 countries by Google searches for the word “Bitcoin.” The drive for crypto adoption in Africa has been championed by many crypto enthusiasts and evangelists. In this article, we would be looking at the top ten women that have contributed immensely to positioning the African continent on the vanguard of cryptocurrency adoption. 

Caveat: The arrangement of the list does not suggest a hierarchical categorisation of the level of impact made by the women on the list. 

Monica Singer (South Africa)

Sick and tired of corruption in various arms of government, Monica Singer, a Chartered Accountant and Auditor was determined to end or reduce corruption in government. This explains her quest for a better method to change the status quo. In 2015, she heard about bitcoin and blockchain in a conference, and after going through the Satoshi bitcoin white paper, she concluded that blockchain was the solution she had been seeking. She was the first CEO of South Africa’s Central Securities Depository (CSD), Strate (Pty) Ltd, but resigned in August 2017 so she could concentrate on bringing blockchain technology to all relevant South African industries. In October 2017, Monica was appointed as the South African Lead for Consensys, the biggest blockchain company in the world. In June 2018, Monica was appointed board member of the Global Legal Identifier Foundation (GLEIF) based in Switzerland. In May 2019, Monica was appointed to represent Consensys on the Accounting Blockchain Coalition (ABC) board. Monica Singer has used her influence in the financial sector to push for blockchain adoption in Africa.

Alakanani Itireleng (Botswana)

Alakanani Itireleng is a bitcoin enthusiast, evangelist and educator in Botswana, Africa. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Humanities and a Postgraduate Diploma in Education. With 10 years of experience in the Education field, Alakanani turned her vast experience in the field of Education into a goldmine. She became the first bitcoin evangelist in Botswana, starting in October 2013 with a successful first bitcoin meetup. She discovered it whilst researching online for opportunities to generate new income. Alakanani Itireleng is the founder of a blockchain hub in Botswana called ‘Satoshicentre’. Through her hub— Satoshicentre, she works with developers in order to create an avenue to increase the understanding of bitcoin and blockchain technology, and to get developers in Botswana to use this technology to bring solutions to the problems that are faced by Africans. One of the major missions of Satoshicentre is to build an African blockchain hub that would incubate blockchain-based startups and would function as an online marketplace to connect Blockchain startups to investors. Her invaluable efforts in seeing that bitcoin and blockchain become a household name in Botswana and other parts of Africa, have earned her a spot on this list.

Imen Ayari (Tunisia) 

 Imen Ayari is an Engineer and Executive MBA graduate from the Mediterranean School of Business. She possesses vast experience in the Fintech sector, and has worked in reputable companies such as Ubitrade, Gltrade, Fis and Sunagrd. She is the Chief Blockchain Officer and Head of Innovation at the Talan Innovation Factory, a company that represents the research and development department of Talan, Tunisia. It explores and provides expertise on disruptive technologies mainly Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things(IoT) and data science. As a strong believer in the synergy and the open collaboration between professionals, academicians and students, Imen Ayari has been active in challenging frontiers inside the local and global blockchain community by catalyzing knowledge sharing and mentoring, and by identifying and evaluating business opportunities. The contributions of Imen Ayari to the drive for cryptocurrency and blockchain adoption in Africa, have been undisputed. Hence, the need to include her on this list.

Roselyn Gicira Mwangi (Kenya)

Roselyn Gicira Mwangi is the Chairperson of the Blockchain Association of Kenya and also the Head of the Kenyan Women in Blockchain. The Blockchain Association of Kenya serves as one of the major foundations and catalysts for the blockchain awareness that currently exists in Kenya and East Africa. Under the leadership of Roselyn Gicira Mwangi, the Blockchain Association of Kenya has been a pace-setter for other blockchain communities and networks in Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Uganda. This association establishes strategic partnerships with organisations in order to roll out educational programs for the public. The programs range from the simple understanding and application of blockchain technology, to actual courses for developers. Through her efforts in bringing blockchain technology and cryptocurrency to Kenya, many Kenyan women have embraced blockchain technology. These women now trade and invest in cryptocurrencies.

Olayinka Odeniran (Nigeria)

Olayinka Odeniran is the Co-founder, Black Women Blockchain Council (BWBC). As a highly respected financial services risk management expert and renowned international attorney who specializes in blockchain, cryptocurrency and emerging technologies, Olayinka has been a major evangelist of blockchain and cryptocurrency adoption in Africa. She utilises her qualification, an M.Sc in Cybersecurity Management, Policy and Blockchain Technology, in order to provide consultancy services for financial institutions. In her role as Co-founder of Black Women Blockchain Council, Olayinka strives to increase the number of young girls and black women in blockchain, fintech and other emerging technologies. She is also a digital content writer and has produced several informative and engaging articles for major online global magazines. Olayinka Odeniran is another Nigerian woman whose efforts in driving cryptocurrency and blockchain adoption in Africa, are highly commendable. 

Naomi Snyman (South Africa)

Naomi Snyman is the Blockchain Lead at Standard Bank Group and the Chair for the South African Financial Blockchain Consortium. Her impact in driving blockchain adoption has not only been felt within Africa, but far beyond the shores of the continent. This is because she currently works as the representative of Standard Bank at the International R3 Consortium, which creates and drives Blockchain projects across member banks around the world. Naomi is an ardent blockchain enthusiast and evangelist who sees the technology as revolutionary. According to her, “If we think about how the Internet started, we didn’t understand why we needed it or how it even worked; but it has completely revolutionized our lives. The same counts for Blockchain.” Naomi Snyman is another leading figure who is passionately driving blockchain adoption in Africa.

Michelle Chivunga Nsunsumuco (Zambia)

Michelle Chivunga Nsunsumuco is the Founder, CEO, and Investor at Global Policy House and also the Senior Advisor to the Government of Bermuda, a Global Fintech Advisory Board.  She is a digital transformation/ blockchain professional and investor, with major access to an extensive network of global stakeholders in the digital economy and financing space. Michelle is one of the early birds that embraced cryptocurrency and blockchain technology as far back as 2009 and has since then, been leading in evaluating the growth of the digital economy and potentials of emerging technologies such as Blockchain/DLT, AI, Quantum computing, Big Data and others. Michelle previously worked for the British Bankers Association of the UK (now UK Finance), where she managed a range of corporate financing projects and worked with several global stakeholders. Michelle currently works across borders to evaluate the impact of emerging technologies on different segments of the society; including women, businesses and governments. 

Sonya Kuhnel (South Africa)

Sonya Kuhnel is the COO and co- founder of Bitsure. She is the current co-owner of Bitcoin Events (Pty) Ltd, Co-owner of Blockchain Academy (Pty) Ltd. Her Blockchain academy provides training for financial institutions, corporates, developers, entrepreneurs, startups, schools and government. The academy also trains    attendees on blockchain and cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and how to use this technology to innovate and better prepare for the future. Bitsure is another avenue Sonya Kuhnel uses to drive bitcoin and blockchain adoption in Africa. Bitsure provides an innovative payment solution by utilizing the blockchain technology to link customer profiles to fiat-backed cryptocurrency transactions in order for financial institutions to create a secure and instantaneous, low-cost payment process to its customers. Through her various blockchain and cryptocurrency platforms, Sonya Kuhnel has played important role in giving Africans the opportunity to explore the innovative blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.

Doris Ojuederie (Nigeria)

Doris Ojuederie is the Founder of Blockchain Ladies Africa. Ladies Africa is an all-female group that focuses on bringing blockchain education to African Women, with the aim of fostering financial empowerment and inclusion.  It is an Organization of women that spans across Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, Cameroon, Egypt and many others. This cryptocurrency Icon intends to build stronger ladies who will bring about great innovations from blockchain technology. Through her organization, she encourages and promotes blockchain startups by African women. The regular meet-ups, workshops, conferences, mentorship programmes and Telegram forums organized by her organization are open to all African women; including corporate managers, women investors and career ladies. Doris Ojuederie is a Nigerian blockchain expert certified by the Blockchain Council, who derives satisfaction in educating African ladies on how to utilize blockchain technology to attain financial empowerment. Her role in cryptocurrency adoption in Africa, cannot be overemphasised.

Yaliwe Soko (South Africa)

Yaliwe Soko is one of the few young South African women to be fully involved in blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Her interest in blockchain started in 2016 and she has since, functioned in the capacity of a freelance Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Consultant for an online investment firm. She is a seasoned YouTuber who has harnessed her qualification as a training facilitator and assessor, in order to create a number of YouTube tutorials. She is the chairwoman at United African Blockchain Association, an organization which has the vision to educate one million people across the African continent about the impact of blockchain technology over the coming years through its events and training programs. Yaliwe Soko is another industrious and visionary blockchain evangelist whose enormous efforts toward cryptocurrency and blockchain technology adoption in Africa, have included her on the list.

Conclusion

Without a doubt, many women across Africa have done remarkably well in driving the adoption of blockchain technology on the continent. However, these ten women have been quite extraordinary in this quest.

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Bitcoin in Africa

Crypto Regulation or CBDC? What Africa’s Biggest Crypto Hotspot Requires?

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Crypto in Nigeria
Image Credit: Kabiru Yusuf

On February 5, 2021, the Central Bank of Nigeria rolled out an order urging financial institutions to close the accounts of persons or entities that transact in or operate a cryptocurrency exchange.  According to the apex bank, digital currencies generated by unregulated or unregistered firms raise legal concerns because they can be used to perpetrate illicit affairs; money laundering and terrorism. While this gives partial explanations to the clampdown on cryptocurrency in Nigeria, there were uproars from various quarters. Questions were raised on whether or not the ban of crypto was the way forward to the growing interest in digital currencies. The clamour for regulation of cryptocurrency was not only limited to the masses, it includes Senators, Honorable members of the House and the intervention of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

About 5 months after the supposed ban on crypto was made, CBN made another giant stride. At the Monetary Policy Committee Meeting (MPC) held on Tuesday, July 27, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, confirmed that a digital currency (CBDC) will be launched in October. What exactly is the CBN digital currency about? How does it affect Nigerians, especially crypto traders? Why does the CBN have to launch digital currency when regulations can be made for the existing cryptocurrency? These and other questions still linger in the minds of financial analysts and crypto enthusiasts.  Thus, the need for this article. 

What is CBDC?

The CBDC is an ‘e-Naira’ that is supported by law and can be used as legal tender. Due to this, it is usually considered as the central bank’s liability.   CBDCs are blockchain-based but centralized and supervised by bank regulators. This is the distinguishing factor between cryptocurrency and CBDC; while the former is highly decentralized, the latter is centralized and regulated by the central bank that created it. To achieve its centralization, every bank connected to the blockchain system can collate transaction data that can be aggregated and relayed to the CBN. Just like stable coins, the digital currencies will be pegged to the fiat Naira at 1:1.  The currency would most likely be issued to commercial banks which in turn be made available to customers. The CBN started research on CBDC in 2017 alongside 80% of other central banks. However, only the Bahamas, the Eastern Caribbean and China have implemented it in practice. The CBDC is set to be Africa’s first digital currency as it is closest to being pulled through. Other countries like South Africa, Ghana, Morocco and Kenya are working on introducing digital fiat currencies. 

How CBDC affects Nigerians: a Gift or a Curse? 

Any Nigerian operating a business will certainly be concerned about the effect of the CBDC on the financial market. For crypto enthusiasts, it is another form of witch-hunt put in place by the central bank to clamp down on cryptocurrency. Since digital currency is the future and cryptocurrency is “evil” as proposed by the apex bank, CBDC will enable faster transactions and promote the development of e-commerce. It will create innovative opportunities in the financial system as new business opportunities will arise from emerging business models, financial products and services. While there seem to be endless advantages of CBDC, its curses are no doubt evident in the ways it will be regulated. Transparency and centralization of the digital currency will enable the central bank to know who is holding what money at a particular point in time. With such regulation in place, the government can use CBDC to surveil the citizens, determine how much they earn, what they use the money for, where they save the money. Since it can be used to determine the amount a particular person earns, it allows the government to leverage tax on citizens. These are the ‘ill’ cryptocurrency permits, hence, its ban. 

Crypto Regulation or CBDC? 

 You may wonder why the central bank is interested in creating its digital currency when it could tap into the existing cryptocurrency. The reason behind this is not far-fetched. One of the important reasons for the ban on cryptocurrency was because it is highly decentralized. Not only because the government does not have control over it but because transactions are only known to the two parties involved without the parties knowing each other. This allows some users to carry out fraudulent activities; cybercrime and money laundering through cryptocurrency. A call for the regulation of cryptocurrency is quite impossible due to its decentralization, to solve the problem of anonymity, there is a need to launch a digital currency that can be monitored. To the Nigerian government, CBDC has the same function as cryptocurrency (except the issue of anonymity which is unimportant if one has nothing to hide). It is the government’s way of regulating crypto and embracing the opportunities the new system provides. 

In conclusion, while the CBDC may seem like a plot by the Nigerian government to further clamp down on cryptocurrency and to monitor the citizens, it is rather counter-productive to critique before it gets launched. For now, it is an idea that is yet to see the light of the day, the loopholes can only be confirmed after its launch in October.  

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Bitcoin in Africa

Crypto in Africa: Where are we Today, and Where are we Heading?

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Bitcoin Growth
Bitcoin Growth

African countries have always been acquainted with the brisk implementation of digital solutions and technologies. From the use of mobile phones to e-payment platforms, they have always been up-to-date. However, the extent to which blockchain and cryptocurrency have been embraced in African countries is varied. 

While several African countries are taking full advantage of the cryptocurrency space, there are also countries whose governments remain unreceptive. There is the issue of regulation, the need for it, and the lack of proper crypto infrastructure that will enable fast-paced access. 

Studies have shown that the main pioneers of cryptocurrency in Africa are countries such as Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria. This article will outline the latest developments taking place in the above-mentioned African countries, and what it means for their future in cryptocurrency. 

 

BOTSWANA

Primitively, the adoption of cryptocurrency in Botswana was welcomed with indifference and a lack of official stance. This indifference was followed by a decision by the Bank of Botswana (the central bank of Botswana), to not regulate cryptocurrencies. Meetings conducted by firms in the country with the government officials to discuss the potential use of blockchain technology showed that the officials were skeptical about what advantage lies in their adoption of the technology. 

Despite the lack of regulation, there was the development of several blockchain start-ups in Botswana:

  • Kgoboko: This start-up was founded to attend to the needs of those who do not have access to the services of banks or financial organizations. 
  • The SatoshiCentre and Plaas: This was established by Alakalani Itireleng in 2014. The SatoshiCentre was initiated to create awareness and spread the word about Bitcoin across Botswana and Africa. Since its inception, it has successfully introduced bitcoin to entrepreneurs across the country thereby creating room for a community of individuals who are interested in blockchain technology. Plaas is a start-up launched under SatoshiCentre to enable farmers to manage their daily productions on the blockchain spectrum. 

On the future of crypto in Botswana, the founder of SatoshiCentre simply said she wants to build and keep educating people about the bitcoin ecosystem without wavering. In her words, compared to 2013, a lot of people are now involved in bitcoin, and this means Bitcoin’s future in Botswana is hopeful. 

 

GHANA

On the 22nd of January, 2018, the Bank of Ghana released a statement stating that the use of digital currencies is not licensed under the payments system acts and as such, the public is to do business with only licensed institutions to ensure that such transactions fall under the country’s regulatory scope. 

Since then, the Bank of Ghana drafted a Payments Systems and Services Bill that they believed would enable the regulation of cryptocurrency in the future. However, the use of cryptocurrencies is still being discouraged because of the perceived risks that come with them and how individuals have lost money to crypto-related transactions. 

The Deputy Director-General of the Security and Exchanges Commission SEC, Paul Ababio, in an interview, said that Ghanaians should desist from blockchain technology. He eventually added that a framework for the regulation is being devised and that a final decision will be passed across.

This does not change the fact that Ghana is one of the top African countries with high cryptocurrency trading volumes. 

 

KENYA

The enactment of cryptocurrency in Kenya, like many other African countries, was met with indifference by the government. In the case of Kenya, its central bank was worried about the degree of uncertainty in the future price, as well as the unpredictability of the technology. 

Over time, the estimated number of bitcoin transactions in Kenya grew to over $1.5m as business owners began making use of the technology to accept payments. The business owners stated that they enjoyed the convenience and how it has helped to reduce the cost of transactions. 

Kenya’s Land Commission welcomed the technology with open arms, with hopes that it would help put an end to the fraudulent acts involved in the purchase of lands. The Blockchain Association of Kenya is working to educate individuals on the benefits of using bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. 

On the issue of regulation, Kenyans believe that the regulation of digital currencies by the Central Bank of Kenya will speed up the adoption of cryptocurrencies, but this has been slowed down by endless discourse. Methods have been suggested as to how the sector can be regulated to ensure benefits to the individuals and the government. 

A task force was set up in April by the Kenyan government to enable a better understanding of why blockchain technology should be regulated. 

 

NIGERIA

In 2017, the Central Bank of Nigeria warned institutions and individuals to desist from crypto-related trades as they are not the legal tender in Nigeria. They went further to state that whosoever gets involved in it does so at their own risk. The Nigerian government had major concerns that the rise of blockchain technology would bring about fraudulent activities. 

Despite these warnings, Nigeria went on to have the world’s third-largest bitcoin holdings as a percentage of gross domestic product. 

Fast forward to the 5th of February, 2021, the Central Bank of Nigeria issued a statement that saw the termination of all crypto-related activities. Financial Institutions were ordered to close the accounts of any individual that has conducted cryptocurrency transactions. 

However, the ban was unsuccessful in eradicating blockchain technology in Nigeria, instead, it made room for peer-to-peer exchange (p2p). Research shows that the trading volume in Nigeria has grown significantly despite the ban. In May, Nigeria received $2.4 billion worth of crypto. 

Conclusively, it is quite evident that Africa will, someday, spearhead blockchain technology and the adoption of cryptocurrencies. The ability to thrive in spite of bans, lack of regulations, and a dearth of infrastructure is a crucial pointer as to the wealth of opportunities that exist on the continent. 

Image Credit: Kabiru Yusuf

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Bitcoin in Africa

Crypto Wallets: A Major Hurdle To Crypto Mass Adoption – Interview with Francis Obasi, Lead Wallet CEO

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Image Credit: Lead Wallet / Twitter (Image was modified)

Cryptocurrencies are getting more popular each year, but mainstream adoption and usage of digital currencies and assets are nowhere close. According to Buy Bitcoin Worldwide, 1.3% of the world’s population uses bitcoin. While a great number of people might know about cryptocurrencies, very few people own or use them. 

For Francis Obasi, the CEO of Lead Wallet, a  major obstacle to crypto adoption is the ability to create and simply use a crypto wallet. Whether trading, staking or hodling, owning a wallet is the basis of transacting in crypto. This is why Francis has created an app that he believes will help people enter the crypto ecosystem seamlessly. 

The idea behind Lead Wallet 

Before Lead Wallet, we were a group of community managers working for AmaZix. One of the most frequent questions we got then as community managers are “where will I store my cryptocurrency, which wallet is the best wallet?” We most times recommended Trust Wallet, we would explain the process of setting up the wallet. Unfortunately, some of these crypto newcomers fall victim to impersonators. For example, someone would impersonate me and tell people to disclose their private keys. People were getting scammed off their cryptocurrency and it became a concern for me. 

Consequently, I realised that the bridge between conventional finance and the crypto space is a digital wallet. To interact with anything crypto-related you need a crypto wallet. So the crypto wallet is a very important factor in understanding what cryptocurrencies are and keeping new users safe. It is their first point of contact when they choose to enter the crypto ecosystem. 

However, a lot of crypto wallets are not simple enough for new users. We decided to create something that will not seem strange to people who are already used to bank applications (which are simple to use).In essence, a crypto wallet bridges the gap between conventional finance and decentralized finance. 

We chose the name “Lead” because we were building something different from what is considered the norm within the crypto ecosystem. We were setting a new standard, a wallet that will “Lead”  the crypto mass adoption. 

What a simple crypto wallet should look like?

A good wallet should reduce a user’s journey in performing simple tasks such as sending and receiving cryptocurrencies. Inside Lead Wallet, there is an ostensibly placed “send” button. Rather than having too many steps to simply sending cryptocurrency, it should not be more than four. In fact, doing most things on a crypto wallet should not take more than 4 steps. 

So no matter how uninformed one might be about cryptocurrencies, using a crypto wallet for the first time should be easy. 

Owning your own private keys

Owning your own private key means that you are in control of your crypto assets. The saying “not your keys not your coins” explains it well. A private key is an alphanumeric string that is generated at the creation of a wallet. 

Having your own private keys means you are in charge of your own crypto asset. A wallet like Trust Wallet or Lead Wallet gives you power over your own crypto assets, it is a decentralized wallet. However, unlike Trust Wallet that stores all crypto assets within one private key, Lead Wallet creates a unique private key for each crypto asset. This gives users the ability to export wallets to other platforms such as Trust Wallet. 

Decentralized crypto wallet is the gateway to DeFi

Decentralized Finance, known for short as DeFi, is a disruption to the traditional financial system. DeFi gives everyone a chance to enjoy financial services without the bottlenecks that come with traditional or centralised financial services. 

Savouring the fruits of decentralized finance requires a decentralized crypto wallet that can connect to a web 3 browser. Like Lead Wallet, such a wallet should offer a very user-intuitive web 3 browser that helps them interact with DeFi applications. Lead Wallet provides these apps as bookmarks to protect users against malicious links. 

There is a lot going on in the crypto world, a lot of people genuinely want to be a part of it but there’s a lot they do not know. A crypto wallet which is most likely their first point of contact with the crypto ecosystem should simplify things for them. 

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