Bitcoin adoption implies that it will be accepted as solid money all over the world. A truly decentralized asset that can be used to securely transfer and store value. Africa is lagging behind in achieving this goal due to lack of regulation, lack of trust, major regulatory bodies banning digital currencies, and lack of cryptocurrency education.
In Africa, there is no established framework for cryptocurrency education. However, some major players have been seen to have a significant impact in increasing bitcoin awareness and understanding. This includes everything from foundations to cryptocurrency exchanges, individuals and private companies.
Africans mainly use social media sites such as Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, TikTok and Instagram to learn about bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. They also draw information from books, blog articles, and exchange resources provided by industry leaders such as Binance, Paxful, Luno and Coinbase. Most African media companies do not promote bitcoin and cryptocurrencies for fear of sanctions and restrictions imposed by their regulators as well as central banks.
Looking at the long-term outlook, some organizations are building schools while others are developing learning materials for schools. A notable leader in this is Yusuf Nesri, co-founder and director of the Built with Bitcoin Foundation. He has built schools in Kenya, Rwanda and Nigeria in partnership with Paxful and other players.
Shamori, a company that makes bitcoin-themed fun games and books, is also a major player in Africa. The SHAmory family believes that there are no barriers for anyone in the world to access the bitcoin network, and their mission is to bridge the generation gap. Their products are designed to teach children of all ages about bitcoin and its features in a fun and engaging way.
According to Gemini’s 2022 Global State of Crypto report, education is the single most important global barrier to crypto ownership. According to the study, 40% of African respondents did not buy any cryptocurrencies because they did not understand how to buy and hold them. Other barriers to bitcoin adoption include a lack of confidence and apprehension about bitcoin price volatility.
The lack of education is making Africa a ripe target for crypto scammers around the world. These crypto scams range from Ponzi schemes promising lucrative returns to DeFi projects that promise above market returns on staked tokens and yield farming. It is destroying the element of trust that is necessary for widespread adoption.
For example, in 2021, the founders of Africrypt, a defunct crypto investment platform, stole more than $3.6 billion in bitcoins in South Africa. Since cryptocurrencies are not recognized as a financial asset in South Africa, the regulatory authority has no grounds to prosecute. This is one of the many crypto scams that have taken place in Africa over the past two years. This raises concerns about the security of cryptocurrency projects in Africa, raising the bar for widespread adoption.
To slow the spread of crypto scams in Africa, Binance and other players are organizing educational programs to help Africans understand crypto, protect their crypto and avoid crypto scams. Binance this year sponsored a 400-person program in Nigeria to educate students at the Federal University of Technology Minna. Binance claims to have educated over 541,000 Africans about cryptocurrency.
The most significant impediment to bitcoin adoption in many parts of North Africa is the existence of strict regulations restricting the use of the cryptocurrency, while preventing other banks from dealing with crypto firms. According to a 2021 study by the Law Library of Congress, all use of private cryptocurrencies is banned in Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria.
One of the oldest bitcoin companies in Africa, Satoshicentre started crypto education in Botswana in 2014. Satoshicentre hasn’t grown much as the Botswana government has not implemented digital currency regulation, so it has been forced to accelerate crypto adoption through peer-to-peer transactions. With the current legal framework, it is difficult to obtain a license for a crypto exchange in Botswana.
Satoshicentre collaborated with Paxful last year to create a hub for blockchain startup acceleration and innovation. The collaboration aims to educate Motswana about blockchain, support their blockchain startups, and connect them with investors to help them scale up.
For bitcoin to be truly adopted in Africa, the leaders of the crypto community must find a way to educate politicians and other policy makers about bitcoin and its features. As a result, they will no longer fear bitcoin and embrace its potential to facilitate the transfer, storage and security of value. When these policy makers understand and adopt bitcoin, the chances of passing laws and regulations that are friendly to bitcoin increase.
In addition, Bitcoin Playbs in Africa should accelerate blockchain education to help people understand crypto and keep their coins safe. This will slow the spread and impact of cryptocurrency scams while restoring confidence in blockchain projects. It will also accelerate crypto adoption as most blockchain education programs end up orange-pilling their students.
Disclosure: I own bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.