Enhancing the Investment Climate in Africa – Exploring Digitalised Currencies

The continent of Africa is one of the most endowed continents by
measure of natural resources. With 54 countries, it is presently the
second most-populous continent after Asia. The entire region has keen
interest in crypto currencies as indicated by the trend and buzz on
social media platforms, but there seem to be hurdles of arbitrage, high
exchange rates, scarcity of readily available markets, accessibility
among others. 

Bitcoin is one of the very first form of crypto currencies to be
created in 2008 and went public a year after. In 2018, Bitcoin is now
known to be the most popular and commonly used digitalized token. There
are several other crypto currencies with much smaller market
capitalisations; these are usually referred to as altcoins. As of
January 2015, there were more than 500 crypto currencies across the
globe. In less than three years, precisely September 2017, the number
crossed 1,100 (representing a rise of 120%) with a total market cap of
over $60bn! By December 2017, the total market cap rocketed to a
whooping $600bn (a 10x increase in 8 weeks). 

With all these amazing statistics, it is quite clear how tremendous
the performance of crypto currencies has been over the years. Companies
popularise their crypto currencies by making them public through a
ticker (usually made up of four letters max), more importantly, an issue
to the public through an ICO. 

ICO is the abbreviation for initial coin offering. Like initial
public offering (IPO) which is related to stocks, every initial offering
is made with the aim of raising equity capital for the company. The
capital raised is then used to fund projects that are expected to
generate returns for the shareholders who invested their money. The ICO
has become a very popular abbreviation in the world of crypto
currencies. 

Invariably, the main aim is to generate funds for the start-up
through a token sale, crowd funding or a coin creation event. The newly
issued digital tokens are priced at relatively low amounts to attract
investors and hump up sales volumes. 

In March 2018, heads of 44 African states emerged in Rwanda’s
capital on Kigali to sign an agreement that will allow free trade across
Africa. The continental free trade agreement (AfCFTA) goes down in the
books of history as the largest single market in the world after the
world trade organisation which was launched in 1995. Will this deal be
the ultimate remedy to trade stagnation in certain African economies?
Surely yes! This will serve as a gateway to increased productivity and
GDP when kick started in the next six months (as per the agreement).
Though the benefits may not directly trickle down to households, it will
foster growth on a national level. Cooperation amongst governments will
be essential in steering the deal on the right track- 10 out of these
44 countries including South Africa and Nigeria have refused to sign the
deal. 

A new crypto currency platform, VendEx just launched an ICO to
focus mainly on African markets with an expected user base of 2
million. It will serve as a trading platform just like Binance and
Kucoin, its Asian counterparts. Binance (BNB) and Kucoin (KCS) started
with ICOs of $0.15 and $0.19 respectively; they have both grown to
achieve all-time highs of 15,000% and 10,000% in the Asian market. Savvy
entrepreneurs on the continent are seizing the opportunity by taking
risks to invest in the new frenzy regardless of the aforementioned
obstacles. In a report published on CNBC Africa’s website, more than 50%
of Africans will be dominated in only 7 out of the total 54 states by
the year 2030. 

One may ask why 7 countries only? Perhaps the integration of
countries via free movement and mobility will cause people to migrate to
the best performing nations in search of ‘greener pastures’– a possible
case of overreliance on the power houses of Africa – hopefully this
does not turn out to be similar to what is happening in the Eurozone. 

The report goes on to mention that, there will be an increase in
the number of individuals that fall within the middle to high class
(roughly 43%). Common logic will suggest that, total disposable income
for the average worker living in Africa is expected to rise if the
population of the lower class lessens. Exciting times ahead for
individuals and businesses that are looking to venture out into the
African markets – a forecast of a decent boost in aggregate demand for
economic goods and services, amidst a generally dovish growth outlook. 

Merchants are beginning to accept bitcoins for payments in Africa,
these include; Sierra Lone, Nigeria and Kenya. Though cryptos are not
known in some parts of Africa, they are ubiquitously gaining grounds in
the Eastern, Western and Southern regions of the continent. VendEx is
looking to bolster day-to-day transactions between individuals,
households and businesses by issuing fiat currencies. Fiat currencies
unlike crypto currencies are approved by governments through the central
banks’ authority as a legal tender, therefore they can be used in
paying for goods and services. On the other hand, crypto currencies are
decentralised digital coins or tokens that are not authorised by central
banks, hence they do not qualify to be referred to as ‘legal tenders’.
Anticipated to be a medium driving mainstream cryptocurrency usage in
Africa, VendEx will also provide ease of access through partner networks
(including mobile money operators, kiosks and merchants), mobile apps
for exchange related transactions and last but not least, trading of
popular and credible assets voted by the general community. 

It is about time Africans took advantage of digitalised currencies
to embrace the new era of investment. In doing so, it is important to
consider the short and long-term impacts on livelihood. 

Leave a Reply