Who could tell that one full week of announcements would be so fun? From launching new innovations like KamWallet and KamMobile - yes, controlling crypto without internet or smartphone access, to strategic partnerships with Meld, SharkCoders and diginex ESG, and so much more in between - 1111 was big for KamPay.
But now that we are done (for now), we get back to the news of the week. And since we missed one News Digest, albeit for very good reasons, we sorted out two weeks’ worth of the most important news from the cryptosphere in Africa so you don’t miss any important developments.
Starting with an amazing one all the way from Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous territory of the United Republic of Tanzania. Authorities are reportedly exploring ways to regulate and adopt cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC).
The Zanzibar government plans to hold meetings with stakeholders such as banks and ministries to discuss policies related to the cryptocurrency industry. Zanzibar Minister of State Mudrick Soraga announced the plans to Tanzanian news agency The Citizen on November 10.
The move is part of a potential crypto adoption plan, as Soraga has previously met with local crypto enthusiasts who assured him that Zanzibar should recognize and adopt cryptocurrency as an official transaction method amid the total market of crypto reaching over $3 trillion. “We are seeking views on the issue before deciding whether or not it is viable,” the official reportedly said.
According to The Citizen, there is a lot of work to be done for Zanzibar before the jurisdiction can adopt the cryptocurrency. As such, the local government will need to develop policies explaining the objectives and benefits of digital currency through the Bank of Tanzania, according to Professor Haji Semboja of Zanzibar State University.
The president of the Tanzania Bankers Association, Abdulmajid Nsekela, has reportedly noted that Zanzibar has a lot to learn about the growing technology. “We need to start learning from other countries about how this technology works. For cryptocurrency to be effective, we will need policies for cryptocurrency,” he said.
The latest news from Zanzibar comes months after Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan urged the country’s central bank to start exploring cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin in June. The move came shortly after El Salvador passed its Bitcoin law in early June, ultimately making the country the first to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender in September 2021.
According to some industry figures, like Cardano founder Charles Hoskinson, many more countries will eventually follow in El Salvador’s footsteps by making it the national currency or adopting cryptography for transactions such as central bank settlements. Although Hoskinson did not specify which countries would be likely to be the first to follow El Salvador, African countries could apparently argue for the fact that the African crypto market has jumped more than 1,200% in one year.
Next up, we see a drive for mass adoption as The Government of Zimbabwe consults with various private sector players to try and gather their views in order to eventually formulate policies on cryptocurrencies
Speaking at a Computer of Zimbabwe (CSZ) summit, the Permanent Secretary and Head of e-Government Technology Unit in the Office of the President, Brigadier General Charles Wekwete, said consultations with the private sector are underway.
His comments come after CSZ members asked what the government is doing in regards to adopting cryptocurrencies.
According to Wekwete:
“Governments are still trying to understand and properly trying to create policies on how to deal with it. In our case, initially, we were trying to understand their implication because they are a fundamental departure from previously known financial instruments and there are a lot of features about the cross-border movement of funds, money laundering, externalization of funds and illicit flow of funds to fund illicit issues. So the government has put in place a mechanism to try and gather views from various sectors of society in order to eventually formulate policies. There have been pronouncements by the Minister of Finance and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and it’s such a complex area. Sooner or later, the government will make statements but we have not gotten there yet. The consultative process is already underway.”
Wekwete invited private sector players who have ideas on how best to handle the issue to make presentations to the government.
The Zimbabwe Minister of finance, Mthuli Ncube, recently visited DMCC Crypto Centre in Dubai, a UAE facility that says it is building the largest ecosystem for cryptographic, blockchain, and distributed ledger technologies in that country.
Ncube has been one of the leading ministers in talking up cryptocurrencies. His comments are appreciated as an indication of his openness to the possibilities that crypto and blockchains present.
Kenya’s Central Bank Governor, Patrick Njoroge, has indicated that it is important to do the right thing, rather than to be first when it comes to the launching of Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs).
According to Njoroge, the Central Bank of Kenya was considering the launch of a CBDC, but it is taking its time as it looks to cooperate with other Central Banks on the introduction of CBDCs.
Njoroge confirmed the bank’s plans for a central bank digital currency (CBDC) after months of little information if Kenya was going to follow in the footsteps of Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa who have unveiled plans for retail CBDCs in the recent past.
The chief use case identified for the CBDC, according to the governor, is to facilitate cross-border activities.
The governor has indicated that CBDCs can enhance the efficiency of cross-border payments, but he insists that countries need to work together for those benefits to be enjoyed.
Indeed, international financial institutions such as IMF, World Bank, and the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) have identified that the impact of CBDCs will mainly arise from collaboration while identifying the problem of several intermediaries in international trade.
This causes key inefficiencies:
According to the governor, however, CBDCs can offer 2 key benefits for cross border trade:
Such issues affect Africans and Kenyans more than their global counterparts.
To illustrate, the global average cost for sending remittances (of $200) in Q1, 2021 stood at 6.38%. On the other hand, the average cost of sending remittances to Kenya is 8.5% of the amount being sent, according to the latest World Bank data.
Furthermore, time lags during cross-border fund transfers expose counter-parties to credit and settlement risk.
Cross-border trade, particularly, the sending of remittances, was one of the targets behind the first CBDC in Africa to go into operation, the e-Naira.
The populous West-African nation is among the key remittance destinations in Sub-Saharan Africa, with remittance receipts amounting to $24 billion in 2019.
The e-Naira is expected to lower remittance transfer costs, making it easier for the Nigerian diaspora to remit funds to Nigeria by obtaining e-Naira from international money transfer operators and transferring them to recipients in Nigeria by wallet-to-wallet transfers free of charge.
However, the move by countries such as Nigeria and China to move out quickly over the CBDCs leaves questions as to how they will be integrated with foreign currencies, even CBDCs given they are all linked to fiat.
To finish off, we have an amazing crypto use case in DRC. After the eruption of Mount Nyiragongo volcano on 22 May 2021, a restaurant worker and a blogger teamed up in the city of Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo and taught displaced families how to use Bitcoin.
Blogger Gloire Wanzavalere went to a refugee camp that popped up in Goma, offering to give Bitcoin to displaced families.
Gloire Wanzavalere went to the makeshift refugee camp that sprang up nearly overnight, offering to give away bitcoin to displaced families.
He recruited by word-of-mouth, asking people if they knew someone who lost their home. But he quickly found that most of the families had already traded their phones for food. They also left most of their belongings behind, so didn’t have the paperwork needed to open new bank accounts or acquire new devices.
“These people lost everything. I understood it was rational for them to sell what they had left in order to buy food,” Wanzavalere said. “So we bought phones for eight people…12 people benefited from our initiative, four among them already had their own smartphones.”
Wanzavalere was inspired by online news of the bitcoin Beach project in El Salvador, which he said proved poor people can still use bitcoin despite the technical challenges and volatility.
“Coming to their aid with bitcoin was a more powerful act than any marketing campaign could be. That’s when we told ourselves, OK, we’re going to do this in Congo,” the crypto-focused blogger said.
They started with a small, circular workflow. Wanzavalere’s mother owns a small shop in town that sells basic hygiene supplies and nonperishable goods. She agreed to accept bitcoin using her mobile phone, relying on apps like Wallet of Satoshi and Phoenix Wallet.
“The learning process was very long, but the minimum research we have done has helped us understand bitcoin without any support,” Kombi said. “We realized that it was easy to set up. A simple wallet and an internet connection are sufficient. In addition, we are studying the possibility of setting up BTCPay Server in the near future.”
So far just a few of the restaurant’s clients use bitcoin, Kombi added, including the displaced people Wanzavalere distributed the bitcoin to. However, they hope that as more people in the community learn about bitcoin that this payment option will set the small restaurant apart from local competition. The restaurant often hosts educational workshops for customers who want to learn more about using bitcoin.
Wanzavalere said he can relate to Kombi’s statement that bitcoin education takes a long time. Wanzavalere first discovered bitcoin after falling prey to an online scam in 2017. That inspired him to do more research into digital assets, and eventually start his own local crypto news blog.
“The Congolese population is suffering greatly; it never had any stable currency except the U.S. dollar,” Wanzavalere said. “I am not a journalist. However, I started to write about bitcoin issues in Africa because there was a lack of information on the subject in French.”
That’s it for this week’s News Digest. Don't miss out on upcoming news and don’t forget to follow us on our social media, so you get all the updates on our project, as well as a lot of fun content we have in the works.
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