Africa, Science & Tech, World

Bitcoin in Africa: Is Cryptocurrency Saving Africa’s Economy?

Bitcoin has taken the world by storm. Almost every internet user has heard of Bitcoin. Some have gone further and invested heavily in it. This is by either buying it or by teaching others on Cryptocurrency, all while others still grapple with the concept and fundamentals of what Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency actually are. Africa has not been left behind. The fire and zeal for Bitcoin are real, especially among the young people.

Young people are arguably the most active drivers of the Cryptocurrency craze in Africa. Though not all lack proper knowledge on how cryptocurrency and the Blockchain technology in general works, a majority do not have the proper knowledge.

This is not limited to Africa. Many other people around the world are still trying to figure out more about what Bitcoin really is. This is because they either do not know or they just have some scanty info about its past, present or even where its future lies.

Bitcoin: Fear of Missing Out

In Africa, many of the Cryptocurrency investors just found themselves in the trade following persuasion from peers. And out of the fear of missing out, they jumped onto the bandwagon. Some sweet talking and convincing entrepreneurs have also been giving financial advice encouraging people to take the risk and invest their money in Bitcoin. Cryptocurrency selling companies have quickly risen as a result and now everybody wants a piece of the cake.

Well, Bitcoin in itself and the whole Blockchain concept is not an evil scheme. The original vision of Bitcoin was to have some form of peer to peer currency exchange. It would be free of interference from governments, central banks, regulatory commissions or private entities. That meant that only the members or people using Cryptocurrency would act as its regulators. There is only 21 million worth of Bitcoin. With more people jumping in, the value will continue to change depending on demand and its user base.

The fact that Cryptocurrency is unregulated by recognized institutions has made some people get cold feet. The fear of the unknown has kept them at bay. Some think that investing in Bitcoin is akin to flushing your money down the drain. This is why there are strong critics of Cryptocurrency who believe it’s just a bubble waiting to burst.

This criticism has not refrained young Africans from being part of Cryptocurrency. For instance, Peace Akware, a thirty-year-old university graduate from Uganda is one prominent investor. She has bought Bitcoin worth over a $1000. Following frustration in trying to secure a job after graduation, she found herself doing odd jobs. They usually left her dry and drained. It was then that she stumbled over Cryptocurrency and she has never looked back.

Cryptocurrency Provides Flexibility and Value

According to Ms. Akware, the low time investment, flexibility and promising nature of Bitcoin are what pushed many young people into it. In Africa, many university graduates often remain jobless even long after graduation. This has driven the high interest in Bitcoin as they try to make money. Zimbabwe, for instance, which has suffered from severe economic dysfunction, has found a reprieve in Bitcoin due to its value. Zimbabwean currency was so low in value, that it would require you to have over 20 million Zimbabwean dollars to just buy bread. Importing goods from abroad is now a breeze due to Bitcoin.

Unfortunately, opportunistic fraudsters have also found their haven in Cryptocurrency. The hype surrounding Bitcoin coupled with little to no familiarity has given them an easy avenue to dupe unsuspecting Cryptocurrency investors in Africa. In a Ponzi scheme kind of deals, numerous people have given their money to these criminals in hope of cashing in a quick profit. They are offered fake Cryptocurrency which they are to store and later sell handsomely. The mouth-watering deals are often too good to resist. And as is typical with Ponzi schemes, the early investors will cash in heavily. This easily lures others but their money goes up in flames.

It is just the beginning of the Cryptocurrency journey in Africa. Some are skeptical while others became crazy Bitcoin converts. For people like Ms. Akware, they are cautiously driven by the mantra: ‘use only what you can afford to lose.’ With some seeing Cryptocurrency as the savior of the African economy, it just remains a matter of time to see where it all leads to.

About Alex Muiruri

Alex is a passionate writer based in Kenya. He's also a professionally trained health officer and a great enthusiast of science and technology. Besides writing, he enjoys doing motivational speaking and possesses strong opinions on life. He's a lover of people and enjoys good company. He's also a devoted Christian, but respects the beliefs of others.

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