A new report by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has outlined that Africa will need to invest more in internet connectivity in order to maintain the continent’s current pace of cryptocurrency adoption.
The popularity of Bitcoin in Africa continues to grow as a result of the presence of cryptocurrency exchange platforms. There are benefits to cryptocurrency ownership that are unique to the African continent, many devolving from the widespread unstable economic conditions.
Owning and trading in cryptocurrencies is a trend on the rise in countries across the globe. The markets in the USA and Asia have typically gained media traction, while the phenomena in Africa is left largely uncovered. Moreover, a large number of recognized exchanges don’t offer services in Africa, whereas, some recognize the significant marketplace that includes many Africans who do not have access to formal bank accounts.
If Africa is to be the next boom as many experts are currently predicting, it will need to make major changes to its telecommunications infrastructure across the continent, as indicated by the ITU report. The report shows that to connect the majority of Africans to the internet will cost as much as $450 billion.
Currently, governments on the continent spend significantly less than the global average with most countries spending three times as much on connectivity. Low education levels and the high cost of internet capable devices have been cited as contributing factors to the current slow uptake of the internet in many areas of the continent.
The uptake of digital currency has been prolific in Africa over the past two years, with many countries taking on the advantages that currencies such as Bitcoin offer over local fiat currencies. Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, Nigeria, South Africa, and Zimbabwe have all shown a significant increase in crypto adoption.
Coindirect co-founder Stephen Young says that Africa has unique problems and these must be considered in any startup plan for cryptocurrency adoption on the continent. He feels that current exchanges don’t take these into consideration. In terms of African fiat currencies, Young identifies their systemic volatility, insecurity and lack of governance as factors that the crypto space need to take on board: He argues:
“If Africans are to benefit from the cryptocurrency revolution we need make it easier to buy, store and trade cryptocurrencies. As Africans, it is our responsibility to help build the infrastructure and we need to be a part of the revolution.”
It is clear that this “infrastructure” depends on connectivity. ITU reveals that out of the 52 percent of the world’s population who remain unconnected to the internet, the majority of these live on the African continent.
One country is attempting to address this disparity. Rwanda has managed to achieve a 90 percent broadband spread with its nationwide rollout of optical fiber throughout a larger part of the country. The project began in 2009 in order to boost broadband services and attract foreign business investment.
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