Podcast: Growth of cryptocurrencies in Africa

African governments are now becoming receptive to cryptocurrencies

Africa remains the most promising region for adopting cryptocurrencies, with countries like Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa leading the way. What is driving this growth, and what roles are African governments playing regarding regulations? Last week, this was the first topic we covered in our new Crypto in Afrika podcast. In the podcast, Nixon Kanali talks to Albert Climent, the founder OneBlock Tech and Brian Njuguna, a Blockchain/Crypto Journalist, about what more African governments are doing to support crypto adoption. Kenya is ranked 12th out of 27 countries after surveys were conducted to measure the rate of Cryptocurrency adoption. The survey by the Cryptocurrencies Adoption Index says 16% of adult Kenyans have access to smartphones and can access or own an e-wallet. This calculates up to 4.8 million Kenyans who own cryptocurrency. 

“Crypto in Africa is growing. By June last year, the growth had reached $5.6 billion. Compare that to the GDP of the Kenyan economy, and the growth has been exponential,” Brian says.

This is a bit higher than the global average of 15%. In Africa, though, Kenya is behind countries like Nigeria [21%] and Ghana [17%]. Globally Kenya is ahead of countries like Argentina [15%], Mexico [15%], Venezuela [15%], and Brazil [14%]. 

“Africa is undoubtedly leading this new world of finance and crypto adoption in many ways because it solves real problems. We are in front of a peaceful financial revolution in Africa, which is fighting against financial inclusion of the unbanked population,” Albert says.

Part of the problem surrounding cryptocurrency adoption in Africa has been government support. African governments have previously issued warnings against investing in them. Last year, Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) warned budding crypto investors to beware of the risks associated with digital assets. EFCC said Nigerians are losing money to fraudulent investment schemes. It said citizens are losing money to Bitcoin trading, forex, and Ponzi schemes. 

In Kenya, the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) last year maintained that Bitcoin is a form of unregulated digital currency that is not issued or guaranteed by any government or central bank. According to CBK, in a circular shared last year, no entity is currently licensed to offer money remittance services and products in Kenya using virtual currency such as Bitcoin. The tune is, however, now changing, with CBK now inviting comments from the public through a discussion paper, views that it says will be considered when assessing the potential use of Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) in Kenya. 

“Now the government is becoming receptive to crypto assets. This is the kind of receptiveness we want,” Brian says.

The insightful conversation continued with very informative points from the two guest panellists. 

“The key here is to educate governments that crypto has something that can fix problems and help them fix the lives of their citizens,” Albert says.You can listen to the Crypto in Afrika podcast below for more insights. The podcast is available on YouTube, Spotify, and all the podcast streaming platforms you may use.

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