African trade and investment can be boosted if the slow red tape and bulky transactions were simplified, more open and safe. Transaction technologies can offer cheaper, quicker and safer ways to do business.
Cryptocurrency transactions based on Blockchain technology offer such a solution. It is the future and it has the potential to do to the financial system what the internet did to the media.
What is Blockchain? It is an open, distributed Ledger enabling digital transactions between parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way. Once information has been recorded it cannot be altered. Blockchain eliminates the need for third parties and offers data security without compromising integrity.
Blockchain was invented by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008 to serve as a public transaction ledger of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, a start-up digital currency launched in 2010. Since then adoption of blockchain has grown globally. According to Accenture, blockchains attained a 13.5% adoption rate within financial services in 2016. In 2016 Industry trade groups joined to create the Global Blockchain Forum in America.
In African start-ups and independent organizations are promoting blockchain adoption. In South Africa these are some of the startups Centbee, Bitsure, Valr, and Octobase. Recently FHM (PTY) launched the Initial Coin Offering (ICO) for SAFCOIN aimed at becoming the digital currency for Africa. The challenges blockchain entrepreneurs face are: how to scale them and take them global, uncertain regulatory landscape, managing erroneous or fraudulent transactions, and how transactions cross-country border should be taxed and regulated.
On the other hand, the young industry is growing through bodies committed to promoting blockchain adoption in Africa. Blockchain Association of Africa (BAA) incorporated in 2018, and based in South Africa, Uganda and Nigeria exists to promote international brands, companies, start-ups, investors, developers, service providers and regulators to connect and collaborate. It has partners in Zambia, Dubai, Ghana, Kuwait, Namibia, Zimbabwe, India, Kenya, and Botswana.
It will hold 1st Annual Africa Blockchain Congress on 14 – 15 February 2019 and in attendance will be more than 1500 delegates. The congress aims to trigger startups, corporates, local and global investors to eye Africa as home to fintech and related verticals’ ecosystem on the continent.
Africa is ready for the future. As long as we continue to uphold the spirit of Ubuntu as the saying goes “each one teach one” we will be unstoppable.