Blockchain technology is making a significant impact in Africa by addressing real-world problems such as hyperinflation and corruption, according to executives in the region. Chris Maurice, founder and CEO of Yellow Card, Africa’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, stated that crypto is rapidly growing in Africa because it allows individuals to escape the failures of the traditional financial system and transact more freely. He emphasized that crypto in Africa is not just a speculative casino-like activity, but a solution to actual banking and currency challenges.
Maurice highlighted some of the common use cases for cryptocurrencies in Africa, including making international payments, sending money to friends and family, and protecting against inflation. He stated that crypto in Africa aligns closely with the original mission of blockchain technology, which is to provide financial empowerment and inclusion to underserved populations.
Kevin Imani, founder and CEO of Sankore 2.0, discussed the human rights implications of blockchain-based payments in underdeveloped nations. He emphasized that cryptocurrencies offer a lifeline to individuals in countries facing hyperinflation and corruption, providing them with greater financial control and inclusion. Inflation rates in Sub-Saharan Africa reached an estimated 14.5% in 2022, making peer-to-peer crypto transactions a viable alternative for many Africans to counter weak national currencies.
Okoye Kevin Chibuoyim, founder and CEO of GIDA, a crypto education platform in Nigeria, expressed his belief that crypto is Africa’s next opportunity for growth and participation in something great. He noted that the transparent nature of blockchain technology allows individuals to trust the system, which is particularly valuable in regions with a history of bad governance and lack of accountability.
The increasing adoption of cryptocurrencies in Africa is evident through the surge in crypto users and venture capital funding in the region. In 2021, the number of cryptocurrency users in Africa grew by an astounding 2,500%, leading to an 11-fold increase in venture capital funding in 2022. Maurice specifically highlighted Nigeria as a standout country in crypto adoption, with a local publication reporting that 47% of Nigerians own or transact with crypto on a daily basis.
While crypto adoption is on the rise in Africa, there are still legal and regulatory challenges in some countries. Botswana stands out as a country with clear legal and regulatory frameworks for cryptocurrencies. However, crypto is reportedly illegal in countries such as Cameroon, Central African Republic, Gabon, Guyana, Lesotho, Libya, and Zimbabwe.
The impact of blockchain technology in Africa is significant and transformative. It provides solutions to pressing economic challenges faced by the region, offering financial inclusion and control to individuals in underdeveloped nations. As crypto adoption continues to rise and regulatory frameworks evolve, Africa has the potential to become a hub for Bitcoin, crypto adoption, and venture capital investment.
In April, the U.S. digital payments firm Block partnered with Yellow Card to facilitate cross-border payments in Africa, leveraging Block’s infrastructure. This partnership signifies the growing recognition and interest in leveraging crypto and blockchain technology for financial transactions in the region.
Africa’s embrace of blockchain technology represents a unique opportunity for the continent to overcome financial constraints and build a more inclusive and transparent financial system. With its growing crypto user base and increasing venture capital funding, Africa is poised to become a driving force in the global crypto ecosystem.