Bitcoin and blockchain technology has proven to be a great liberator which can democratize and simplify the way we handle business and money transactions all over the world. Especially for the continent of Africa, it is a key piece of currency/technology that we must continue to harness and propagate for the benefits of intra-African trade and a more unified market across the continent. By experimenting with the technology from this part of the world, we have experienced first-hand how this beautiful alternative currency is devoid of discrimination and biases that we have experienced from international banks, credit and debit card companies as well as finance houses. Bitcoin is not the preserve for the rich and elite in the society, neither is it for corrupt people who are interested in money laundering but it exist purposely to simplify the way we handle cash and business transactions. Coverage of what is happening on the bitcoin space in finance and the business media is encouraging as more and more people get to know the value of this exciting combination of technology and currency. The financial technology space on the continent has also been churning out products and services that can be useful to the African.
As I have mentioned in previous articles, we as Africans have always been known to be late adopters of current trends in the world of science and technology. With bitcoin, we have no excuse to be late adopters, the technology must not be shipped to us before we start using it. Neither do we need a foreigner to come to the continent to build bitcoin infrastructure before we would be able to access the blockchain and the benefits that it provides.
Simply put, bitcoin is available, it is accessible and can change the lives of individuals and businesses, let us not risk seeing all the benefits that bitcoin provides and not taking advantage of it. Bitcoin exists to be used for transactions in the peer-to-peer and business-to-business sector. Indeed bitcoin is another addition to the fantastic new technologies that we have on the continent, but we should take this view further by using it as a springboard to build the life and dreams we have always desired.
Bitcoin is not an end in itself but a strong means to an end. The end we all hope to achieve varies from individual to individual, business to business and country to country. For the African traveller who wants to visit various countries in Africa, bitcoin presents a good opportunity to travel across the continent without worrying about cumbersome and often tricky money exchange and forex processes and the associated dangers of carrying huge wads of fiat currencies as a lonely traveller. For the young African entrepreneur, bitcoin can serve as a tool that can easily integrate and streamline her payments and finance process. Finance related matters that businesses have to deal with on a daily basis such as payments for goods and services, paying of taxes, commissions and royalties, raising capital and loans from external sources etc can easily be taken care of by bitcoin and block chain technology. Meanwhile for the African professional who is into freelancing, bitcoin presents the opportunity to reach a wide market all over the world. Freelancers can outsource for jobs not only within their home countries but also from other African countries and around the world which will lead to access to a pool of jobs and possibly higher revenues. International credit and debit card companies dominate payments in the freelance world but are fraught with certain inefficiencies and challenges. Access for one is a key issue for many African freelancers, the ability to access an international debit card which can receive payments is cumbersome and the requirements demanded from customers are often ridiculous therefore a turnoff for many Africans who would like to exhibit their skills online.
Payment of electricity, gas or water bills, filing and payment of taxes etc can easily be performed using block chain technology. The opportunities bitcoin provides are endless and we can employ bitcoin and block chain to create an economy and a society that is productive, progressive and provides opportunities for all without biases and unnecessary discrimination.
Now that bitcoin and block chain technology is gaining popularity and is seen as a veritable piece of technology, the onus is on us as Africans to harness the potential and opportunities bitcoin presents to us. Africa has always been the land for rich resources and potential, we are endowed with almost every productive natural resource known to man, we also have the manpower in terms of population and labour force. For some reason, we have not used what nature has endowed us with to alleviate poverty and improve our standards of living. When we look around, the opportunities are endless and bitcoin can aid us on that journey to follow our dreams and passions to make a change where it matter most. Be it in sectors such as services, food production, export of finished goods and creative endeavours, we do not have a reason not to start anymore. Because the new Africa has been equipped with the technology and technical knowhow to move our lives forward. Bitcoin is a cool alternate currency but on its own it cannot be the game changer, it requires smart people with smart ideas to build cool ideas around it and its integration.
Kwaku Abedi is a freelance writer/editor based in Accra-Ghana. He has an interest in bitcoin and writes on bitcoin integration in Africa.