Blockchain, cryptocurrencies: Africa in the starting blocks

Why Africa? In line, according to Yele Bademosi, general manager of Bundle Africa who operates in the field: “A young population, high penetration of mobile connections and established infrastructure are the main factors contributing to accelerating the adoption of digital currencies and blockchains in Africa.” On the front side, these technologies respond to structural flaws that undermine the continent’s development, such as poor access to banking services or lack of transparency in supply chains or raising finance for projects.

Financial services … but not only

Mistrust on the part of investors would therefore be one of the major obstacles to development on the continent. This is what Stéphane Brabant, Sylvain Cariou, Gilles Mentré and Wilfrid Lauriano Do Rego underlined in April 2021, in a joint forum: “Confidence in the proper management by states of the funds allocated to them is essential for investors or donors. All stakeholders must put in place strong and radical measures, from donors and lenders to final beneficiaries, including intermediaries and states. It is at this price that trust can be restored and with it the flow of loans and donations can be secured. There is a technology to achieve this. It is blockchain. “ And to highlight the additional benefits in terms of ethical and democratic governance, such as the registration of indisputable land titles or the traceability of the granting of public contracts, for example. According to a document from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad), blockchain could also be used in many applications in the service of sustainable development. But, for now, the institution regrets that innovation focuses on financial applications disconnected from the real economy: “For most innovations in this area, the goal is to profit by taking rents through financial intermediaries, thereby making speculative gains on crypto-financial assets instead of creating real value through new products and services.” Promises yes, provided that the states control the technology and direct it to the service of the real economy.

“Cryptocurrencies and blockchains could increase Nigeria’s GDP by $ 29 billion over the next ten years”

Nigeria launches its own cryptocurrency

Nigeria became in October 2021 “the first African country and one of the first in the world to introduce a digital currency for its citizens”, exulted President Muhammadu Buhari at the launch ceremony of eNaira, the digital version of the national currency. The result of five years of work carried out by the country’s Central Bank, its goal is to facilitate financial transactions for all, thus contributing to the vitality of the Nigerian economy: “Along with digital innovations, CBDCs [monnaies numériques de banques centrales, NDLR] it can promote economic growth through better economic activities. In fact, some estimates indicate that the adoption of the CBDC and its underlying technology, called blockchain, can increase Nigeria’s GDP by $ 29 billion over the next decade. “, concludes President Buhari. Ghana is currently testing its e-currency and is expected to follow suit soon.

Tomorrow, a Pan-African cryptocurrency?

In any case, this is the wish expressed by Anouar Hassoune, Managing Director of West Africa Rating Agency, on the occasion of the 16th edition of the African Economic Conference, last September in Cape Verde: “I think the time has come to embrace 21And and the XXIIAnd century […] create an African cryptocurrency that would be accepted in each of the member states as an alternative currency. I don’t see why we shouldn’t. This cryptocurrency should be supported by the resources we have, which is our natural resources. “ Keep on.

Antoine Morlighem

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