Misperceptions of Africa may lead many to assume that the continent is some way behind the rest of the world in terms of cryptocurrency adoption.
However, nothing could be further from the truth. Huge moves are being made in Africa right now, and the case could be made that crypto’s spread across Africa is moving at a faster rate than the same spread across Europe or the U.S.
Dash to Africa
The number 13th ranked cryptocurrency on the market cap rankings has been making inroads into Africa for a while now. By last year Dash had already established a presence in five nations on the African continent, and their project continues to expand.
Dash’s initiative began with Ghana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Morocco and Nigeria, but has since expanded into Cameroon, Kenya, Uganda and Sierra Leone.
Dash’s representatives in these nations work to spread knowledge of cryptocurrency, and travel from town to town imploring people to consider the benefits of digital currency. The program is proving to be successful, which should come as no surprise considering Africa’s rapid adoption of such technology in the past.
The original digital cash?
The M-Pesa project was launched in 2007 and allows users to send money via secure text messages on their mobile phones. The project was overseen by Vodafone, and it now has over 30 million users in 10 different countries, with an estimated 600 million transactions having already taken place on the platform.
By the time of M-Pesa’s launch in 2007, the Nakamoto whitepaper hadn’t even been written. Yet all over Africa people were already adopting digital cash payments.
The project has expanded beyond Africa in recent years, with India, Romania and Albania all adopting M-Pesa between 2013 and 2015. Cryptocurrency’s subsequent rise to prominence will no doubt have affected M-Pesa’s continued adoption, but the use of digital cash long before Bitcoin’s invention is a strong sign that crypto adoption in Africa may not be all that difficult.
Senegal’s Crypto City
Akon, the best selling American rapper of Senegalese origin, recently launched AKoin – a new cryptocurrency which its creator has big plans for.
According to the project announcement, plans are underway to use the AKoin currency as the foundation for a new crypto-city which is being built in Senegal. The announcement stated:
“Already in development, Akon Crypto City is the first of its kind, 100% crypto-based city with AKoin at the center of transactional life. This futuristic city, built on 2,000 acres of land gifted to Akon from the President of Senegal, is within 5 minutes of the new international airport, close to the coast and a short drive from Dakar, the capital city of Senegal (Akon’s homeland).”
The project is already being talked about as a real-life Wakanda – the fictional nation depicted in the recent Black Panther movie. The announcement continues:
“It brings the power back to the people and brings the security back into the currency system. It also allows the people to utilise it in ways where they can advance themselves and not allow the government to do those things that are keeping them down.”
In April of this year, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa called for a single cryptocurrency which would unite every country on the continent under the same distributed ledger.
Ambitious as the plans are, the proposal also raises some problems. As cryptocurrency expert Lonwabo Fololo was quoted as telling the South African IOL (Independent Online):
“We already have digital currencies like Bitcoin, which are built on open technology or software. Look, Bitcoin works. It’s borderless, it’s a universal currency, you can use it all over the world, not just in Africa.”