AfricaCom 2020: Bitcoin’s Role in Africa

Alex Speirs 150 x 150
By Alex Speirs Published: November 19, 2020
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AfricaCom 2020 took place virtually at the beginning of November, drawing in several key players from the business world in Africa – digital and otherwise – to discuss and explore the continent’s digital future. With vast portions of the continent still under-connected (digitally, personally and financially), Bitcoin Association was a natural partner for the event.

Bitcoin Association Founding President Jimmy Nguyen appeared as a panellist on Africa’s Digital Decade: Exploring the Big Trends for the Next 10 Years. He was joined by Tunde Fafunwa, Lead Advisor at the Digital Centre for Excellence at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and Razvan Ungureanu, Chief Technology Officer at Airtel Africa, for a session moderated by Jan Vermeulen, Editor-at-Large at MyBroadband.

Nguyen spoke about the fast-developing blockchain technology space, as well as where Bitcoin SV fits within it; explaining that Bitcoin SV is more than just digital cash – it’s a network protocol that can be used to power a global data network capable of supporting major enterprises. He spoke on the difference between Bitcoin SV and other competing implementations of Bitcoin, and why the fact that Bitcoin SV scales matters. In the context of digital growth in Africa, Nguyen spelt out the Bitcoin SV value proposition in terms of enabling growth. Bitcoin SV competitors can offer only 7 transactions per second, whereas Bitcoin SV can already support up to 2,800 transactions per second. The VISA network can reach 50,000-60,000 transactions per second during peak load, which Nguyen says Bitcoin SV will be able to reach by next year, and even greatly exceed in the long-term.

What this means is that Bitcoin SV can serve as the digital infrastructure for the future, both for Africa and the world.

It’s a foregone conclusion for most – and was a subject for discussion on the panel – that data is only going to become more important as we progress into the next decade. Bitcoin SV is the platform that will allow the world – and especially emerging markets – to take full advantage of this, by serving as a distributed data ledger. This is part of a broader empowerment of the individual: not only will it enable users to own and monetise their data, but the ability to do this at scale will bring the benefits of this technology to the greatest number of people – which is especially critical in the context of Africa.

Dr. Craig Wright also presented on Bitcoin SV’s ability to promote global trade and honesty by enabling safe, instant transactions at very low cost, specifically focusing on the impact that this will have on the development of markets within Africa. He pointed to the prevalence of cash payments in vast parts of the continent, a trend he attributed largely to a failure of penetration by traditional banking institutions. He also points to inflation rates and general currency volatility as hindering the ability of people to save money safely and effectively. Bitcoin SV, he said, held the answer to this. It enables fast, peer-to-peer payments, low transaction fees (a fraction of a U.S. cent), micropayments and mobile wallets – this means convenience, affordability and effectiveness.

This is to say nothing of the case being made for Bitcoin SV beyond its utility as a cash system. Having an immutable data ledger opens the door to more transparency, both in business and in government. Think of the power of a regulatory system which keeps a publicly accessible and unchangeable record of every transaction which has taken place between a citizen and their government, or where government money is spent. This will benefit citizens within the African continent by giving them more faith in government, but will indirectly provide untold economic benefits as a result of increased confidence in the region as a supply chain partner.

The event portrayed a palpable excitement surrounding Africa’s development over the next decade and beyond – and it was evident that Bitcoin SV can play a core part in that development.