Bitcoin gains traction in West Africa with educational drive
Bitcoin gains traction in West Africa with educational drive

Bitcoin (BTC) adoption in West Africa is dominated by Nigeria, the cryptocurrency powerhouse and economic engine of the region. But Bitcoin education is also thriving in French-speaking West Africa amid anti-French sentiment.

Senegal recently opened its first brick-and-mortar bitcoin trading and education center called Bitique, and the country of 17 million will host another bitcoin forum in the capital, Dakar, in December, with anonymous local bitcoin advocates Nourou operates an independent bitcoin node sent from space.

In Benin, a city of 13 million people in western Nigeria, a bitcoin-only Bitcoin Masters conference will be held next month. Bitcoin Mastermind, the first of its kind in the country, unites bitcoin entrepreneurs and cryptocurrency enthusiasts from local groups and businesses such as Izichange, GoesPay, and Flash, providing a space for locals to learn about bitcoin.

Cointelegraph interviewed Nourou, founder of Bitcoin Day in Dakar and Bitcoin Senegal, and Loïc Kassamoto, founder of Bitcoin Mastermind, to better understand the evolution or revolution of Bitcoin and West African cryptocurrencies.

A rising tide lifts all boats

The West African CFA franc currency is used in French-speaking countries of West Africa, describe Dubbed a “colonial hangover” by The Economist. Senegalese are outspoken critics of the currency, and some bitcoin advocates, such as local cryptocurrency enthusiast and entrepreneur Bitcoin Mom, explain that it is normal to complain about the currency — a post-colonial French policy on the region. veiled criticism.

Anti-French sentiment has historically existed in the region, but has recently manifested itself in public demonstrations.Nearest Neighboring Mali drop French is the official language of the country – a law that has been in place since the country won its independence in 1960.

In Niger, in eastern Mali and northern Nigeria, recent military coups have dealt a major setback to French President Emmanuel Macron and France’s military strategy in the region. The well-known French newspaper Le Monde commented that the coup was a “new heavy blow” to France’s military strategy in the Sahel region of Niger.

A wave of alternative currency initiatives is emerging in French-speaking West Africa. A growing number of Senegalese are turning to bitcoin as a savings vehicle and means of exchange, while in Benin, Bitcoin Mastermind’s Kassamoto told Cointelegraph that the number of Beninois turning to bitcoin is also on the rise.

Magazine: Bitcoin in Senegal: Why is this African country using Bitcoin?

In the West, much financial discussion and education tends to take place online. However, the focus in West African countries is on physical gatherings and real-life interactions. During the COVID-19 pandemic, discussions about bitcoin and currencies shifted and were limited to online platforms like ClubHouse and X (formerly known as Twitter), but more and more brick-and-mortar spaces are opening up post-pandemic, Nuru said. .

Nourou opens Bitique in the business district of Dakar.Source: Nuru

In fact, as Casamoto explains, one of the keys to unlocking a deeper level of financial education and showing how West Africans use decentralized currencies like Bitcoin is through real-world interactions:

“Bitcoin conferences, meetups, and shops provide opportunities for education, outreach, and direct interaction. Conferences and meetups bring communities together to share knowledge and exchange experiences.”

Norou opened Bitique, the first brick-and-mortar bitcoin store in Dakar for buying and selling cryptocurrencies. He explained that, in addition to trading services, there will also be educational programs for people to learn about bitcoin for themselves: “A training session costs about 10,000 francs ($16) for two or even three hours of training.”

The on-site training goes hand-in-hand with a series of classroom sessions that Bitcoin Senegal is running across the country, called the “Baol Digital Kids” program, which teaches children how to use Bitcoin and the Lightning Network.

The kids in the video receiving and sending the first satoshis over the Layer 2 Lightning Network can spend the money at a growing list of merchants listed on the open-source Bitcoin tool BTCmap.org. In just 18 months, Dakar has grown from a small bitcoin office to dozens of artisans, restaurants and cafes that accept cryptocurrencies.

Nuru recently received a Blockstream satellite kit, and once installed, he can run a bitcoin node in case of network outages. Internet service in West Africa can be spotty and unreliable at times. According to Blockstream, the satellite suite ensures that any connected Bitcoin full nodes “will not be quarantined or partitioned” and that blocks are continuously streamed for node validation.

Across several borders in Benin, Casamoto and his colleagues run what he believes to be the first Bitcoin node in Benin.

He explained that bitcoin adoption has increased, but it also poses risks due to its association with cryptocurrencies:

“Cryptocurrencies have greatly facilitated and hindered the adoption of Bitcoin in West Africa.”

Casamoto said the money-making side of cryptocurrencies has attracted more and more people into the “crypto universe,” but that cryptocurrency scams, losses and fraud have undermined bitcoin’s appeal. The promise of crypto wealth to lure newbies into bitcoin isn’t necessarily a good thing.

“It’s toxic to bitcoin because these people are so quick to be disappointed with their losses and associate it with bitcoin because they don’t even have time to understand the difference,” he said .

Casamoto said that “bitcoin, not cryptocurrencies” is what the West African community should understand.

There are more and more bitcoin meetups, so there are more opportunities to demonstrate what many bitcoin exchanges and thought leaders have long preached: that there may be differences between bitcoin and the rest of the cryptocurrency market.

related: Worldcoin Cryptocurrency Project Suspended in Kenya

As the Central African Republic grabs headlines in 2022 for adopting Bitcoin as a legal tender, shares for much of the Bitcoin community first rose and then fell. After adopting bitcoin, it announced its own crypto token, Sango Coin, while the country is currently experimenting with tokenizing real-world assets such as farmland.

In Ghana, east of Benin, another big bitcoin and education conference is taking place this year. Strike CEO Jack Mallers and Human Rights Foundation Chief Strategy Officer Alex Gladstein will speak at a Bitcoin education event in West Africa.

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