Spotlight on Kenya?
The limited poll, which used results from 96 respondents from the Bitcoin community via a form on BitHub.Africa’s website, suggested technological advancements made in Kenya could easily impact Africa and elsewhere.
A report on the findings said that they were “especially important” given the recent nervous statements by the Kenyan Central Bank (CBK) regarding Bitcoin and digital currencies. In December, the CBK issued a cautionary statement similar to those of other banks in previous years citing alleged security concerns.
“No protection exists in the event that the platform that exchanges or holds the virtual currency fails or goes out of business,” it wrote.
Nonetheless, the BitHub.Africa data gave the company cause for mild celebration. The summary reads:
In conclusion the respondents from this survey are clearly leaning towards Blockchain technology providing opportunity in disrupting businesses […] and offering new growth for startups across the region.
It added that “While the respondents sample is small we can conclude that adoption of this technology is quite feasible certainly in the main country polled which is Kenya.”
Mixed Messages for Africa
Kenya has led the way in terms of Bitcoin and blockchain-based innovation in Africa. This was notable in the success story of BitPesa, the remittance service using the popularity of extant mobile transactions startup M-Pesa to facilitate low cost microtransactions using Bitcoin.
More recently, however, conditions have served to make penetration more challenging for Bitcoin-based newcomers. BitPesa at the end of last year was involved in a lawsuit with mobile operator Safaricom over BitPesa’s offering of Bitcoin as a payment method. BitPesa had enabled customers to purchase bitcoin using M-Pesa, which runs on Safaricom’s network, but a legal battle ended in the option being suspended.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta had only recently prior to the case nominated BitPesa board member Joe Mucheru for his cabinet.
BitHub.Africa meanwhile remained upbeat about the appetite for blockchain innovations such as BitPesa to reach the general populace beyond Kenya’s boundaries. “If it works in Africa it will work elsewhere,” one motto reads.
The survey itself despite its size unearthed several interesting current issues. Notably, those respondents working in notary services and cultural rights produced the lowest interest (7-10%) in blockchain tech. This led BitHub.Africa to extrapolate that there is a missing link between this section of society and the potential of the blockchain, and how it could aid individuals’ everyday lives.
“[It’s] still not clear from an African perspective how Blockchain technology can be utilized in this area,” the report summarized.
Images courtesy of moneysedge.com, bithub.africa