The knowledge and increased usage in bitcoin and block chain technology on the African continent can only lead to the creation of more businesses surrounding this key cryptocurrency which has properties of technology, commodity and currency. It is therefore little surprise that Africans on the continent and in the diaspora are building startups around bitcoin that will solve the many challenges plaguing the continent caused by the financial sector. Startups that achieve success are the ones that solve a specific human need and these bitcoin related startups are solving some of the basic needs of the African, needs that have been largely ignored by the financial services sector. Bitcoin startups are being created to solve basic African problems and are changing the way we view money and finance. They prove that money doesn’t necessarily have to be in the form of notes and coins which we have to carry in our purses and pockets everyday but money can exist on technological devices we interface with almost all the time.
Cynthia Walubengo, one of the writers at newbtcafrica.com posted a great article on some African startups doing well on the continent. Some of the startups listed in the article include BitPesa, Disrupthub, Bitsoko and the African Bitcoin Center (ABC). The success of these burgeoning startups stresses home the need for an African bitcoin ecosystem. Underlining the main reasons why these startups exist is a desire to see to the further usage and awareness of bitcoin on the continent. The desire and increased usage of bitcoin will spawn another tier of startups in virtually every sector under the sun. From bitcoin enabled agricultural financing to incorporating bitcoin payments in healthcare, social services and entertainment. The promise that bitcoin brings to its users mean there is a piece of bitcoin startup pie for every entrepreneur who wants to use bitcoin to revolutionise and re-invent the sector they find themselves in. A great African bitcoin economy cannot come into fruition without the players putting up a formidable and harmonious front. That is why there is a need for an African bitcoin ecosystem where any startup that wants to use bitcoin as a springboard for growth is not left behind. An entity like the African Bitcoin Center (ABC) provides a solid platform that can help harmonise all efforts of bitcoin startups within the continent. The key aim of ABC as an agency is to help in providing the necessary capacity that will catapult bitcoin startups within the continent to the next level. ABC provides solid support to the network of startups that join the network. The support can come in the form of equity funding or grants that other entrepreneurs that have different or new ambitions can use to develop their startups.
The center also serve as a focus group for startups, new ideas have to be tested with a focus or control group to determine customer experiences and feedback. Such feedback and responses are imperative because if new ideas/products are not tested to receive favourable response before being rolled out, the business stands a chance of losing revenue and market share. ABC exists to provide such services to startups in the network at little or no extra cost. One key value that such a network also provides is the different perspective and divergent views members in the community bring to the table. In that regard, startups are able to realise that there is no one single solution in solving a problem. Fresh perspectives and pointers on how to do things differently are always good for any fledging business. The centre also makes it easier for individuals already in the network find partners and raise capital when they want to embark on new projects and startups. A centre like ABC will provide innumerable value to businesses in the network, especially at a time where doing business in Africa is largely considered as challenging. Activities of an ecosystem that is being created by ABC also have a larger impact on society than that of an individual business.
Silicon Valley has been hailed as an ideal and sustainable ecosystem in the world of technology and innovation. Some of the world largest internet and technology focused companies can be found in the Silicon Valley tech ecosystem with Facebook, Google and Apple being the most prominent. These top three firms together employs thousands of people. There are hundreds of firms in Silicon Valley that provides employment and generate revenue for their businesses and income for families. The impact that Silicon Valley technology has on our lives can be felt everyday around us. We do not think twice about using google when deciding to research a topic we know nothing about. Likewise, it is highly probable we will check out a new acquaintance on Facebook and possibly ‘friend’ them there as well. The impact of Silicon Valley also has far-reaching consequences in education, health care, entertainment and our general quality of life.
The ecosystem being developed by ABC does not necessarily have to be physical, it can be virtual and yet still have the same impact that startups who have consciously gathered at a place to support each other can have. Improvement and increased usage in technology infrastructure has enabled Africans form social acquaintances with each other and social networking exist for us to take our collaboration to great heights, this is now the time for us to elevate the acquaintances into serious business partnerships which will foster new business ideas, projects and programs which will be beneficial to the people of Africa. A careful study of technology and bitcoin driven startups that are innovating and making waves in Africa will show that they are emanating from South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria. There are other countries such as Ghana, Namibia, Uganda and Botswana that are also fast rising in the technology and startup game but not at the scale of the top three countries previously listed. Networking and greater corporation amongst tech startups in these countries can lead to the spread of awareness regarding startups in these countries. The experience-sharing and knowledge that can be gleaned by being a member of a reliable network of startups is incalculable and the value is immense. Ecosystems are important and ABC is on course in filling that need for the African bitcoin entrepreneur.
KwakuAbedi is a freelance writer/editor based in Accra-Ghana. He has an interest in bitcoin and writes on bitcoin integration in Africa.