An African Revolution Being Borne of the Back of Bitcoin and Blockchain
The stereotypical thought of an African revolution, one that breaks the chains of oppression and domination, sparks images of bloody battles of liberation. But now, with a new tool that does not discriminate or exclude, Bitcoin is helping African millennials free himself from financial repression.
Armed with only a smartphone everyday African citizens are able to tap into a growing ecosystem and profit from it. But it is more than that; businesses are looking to use Blockchain technology as a cheaper alternative in order to build a better business.
In order for an individual to enter the stock market or to invest in a company or idea, it requires more than just know how. The traditional money market has been for so long an elitist environment that subtle excludes those who are not of its ilk.
A thirty-something woman from the outskirts of Kampala, Uganda, does not exactly fit the bill of a savvy investor. However, Bitcoin is opening up that world to everyone and all.
Peace Akware, that every 30-something from Kampala, told the BBC:
"I check my Bitcoin every day and any chance I can get. Any minute, any hour, anytime, as often as I can."
An active alternative
Merely making a living in a place like Uganda is a much harder task than on the streets of New York. Employment is a lottery even for graduates, like Peace, which leads people into looking for alternatives to make ends meet.
So-called ‘side hustles’ are daily bread for many in impoverished nations, but they are often unsuccessful, time-consuming, and difficult. However, Bitcoin offers an alternative which is not time-consuming, and while it comes with risks, it is accessible and manageable.
There are also businesses that are challenging the difficult and cutthroat workplace by using the power of Blockchain to cut costs and time.
A company called BitPesa operates like a remittance company, transferring money across borders, but instead of using a medium like the US Dollar, they have opted for Bitcoin and its simple cross-border transfers.
Elizabeth Rossiello, CEO of BitPesa, explains why this break with traditional banking is so effective in Africa.
"I've been in Nairobi for the past month and I had three big banking things to do. All three of these operations with three different Kenyan banks were canceled for different reasons or had delays or needed additional information, so it took almost two and a half weeks per transaction to get them finalized and I'm an expert."
Clearly, with the banking system, even at its best, very outdated and causing many frustrations, in Africa, where it is already flawed and alternative needs to be sought.
One issue that has been brought up before with an African revolution in Blockchain and Bitcoin is educating the masses on the disruptive technology.
This has prompted some to get into the business of Bitcoin education.
Martin Serugga, a trader in Kampala, has started weekly classes on Bitcoin which caters to about 50 people currently.
His take on it harps back to the unemployment stating that the interest comes from those who are desperately seeking and failing, at getting jobs.
"If you don't have factory jobs and you don't have corporate jobs to serve the thousands of young people coming out of the universities this is an alternative.”