Africa: The New Land Of The Free

I write this text as a resident of New York Metropolis, residence of the Statue of Liberty, one of the crucial well known symbols of America — the “land of the free”.

However, in relation to Bitcoin, I don’t really feel so free as a New Yorker.

New York State (NYS) is among the most restrictive jurisdictions on this planet in regard to Bitcoin. Since 2015, NYS has required firms that deal within the digital forex market to acquire a “BitLicense” as a way to do enterprise within the state. This license is each troublesome and costly to amass. Bitcoin-only exchanges like River and Swan in addition to long-standing, respected crypto exchanges like Kraken can not serve residents of NYS as a result of they don’t have BitLicenses (for Swan, some NYS residents are grandfathered in from a time when Swan was permitted to function in NYS, however the alternate is not allowed to enroll new New York residents). And Strike, a bitcoin fee app, in addition to Ledn, a bitcoin borrowing and lending platform, will not be permitted to serve NYS residents both.

As if the BitLicense wasn’t an offensive sufficient roadblock within the state that’s residence to New York Metropolis — usually presupposed to be the monetary hub of the world — NYS’s present governor, Kathy Hochul, has pushed to make NYS much more unfriendly to Bitcoin. In November 2022, she signed a regulation banning Bitcoin mining companies that don’t use 100% renewable sources from working within the state for 2 years.

To drive residence the purpose about New York’s stance on Bitcoin, look no additional than the phrases of the state’s Lawyer Normal, Letitia James.



(On the very least, she may have differentiated between bitcoin and all different digital property.)

NYS authorities appear to be doing every thing of their energy to protect the old financial guard — Wall Road — pushing Bitcoin-related exchanges and start-ups out of NYS.

To say it’s disappointing to be a Bitcoin fanatic residing in New York is an understatement.

I really feel impressed and hopeful, although, once I look past the state strains of New York, and even past the borders of the US, to Africa, the place the youth are obsessed with selling higher Bitcoin adoption.

On my podcast, new renaissance capital, I interview Bitcoin educators, entrepreneurs and thought leaders largely primarily based in The International South.

Every time I communicate with company from Africa, I get the sensation that they’re keen to push for higher Bitcoin adoption of their nation (and on the continent at giant) — whether or not their authorities is presently open to the thought or not.

Africans particularly have a sure sense of stoicism of their method to Bitcoin. They’re on a mission to additional the adoption of what Alex Gladstein termed “post-colonial money” in his ebook Test Your Monetary Privilege: Contained in the International Bitcoin Revolution.

So, on this piece, I’d like to spotlight some key segments of conversations I’ve had with African Bitcoiners, individuals who I imagine future generations will look again at and thank for the work they’re doing now to make Africans freer and extra self-sovereign.

Let’s begin on the southwest tip of the continent.


Nikolai “OKIN” Tjongarero, founding father of EasySats, an organization that makes it straightforward and low cost for Namibians to amass bitcoin, has been doing his half to persuade the powers that be in Namibia of Bitcoin’s worth. He’s even orange-pilled members of the Financial institution of Namibia, the nation’s central financial institution.

When higher-ups on the financial institution reached out to a burger joint that OKIN had just lately satisfied to simply accept bitcoin as a type of fee and requested to fulfill with OKIN on the restaurant, OKIN fortunately (although with a little bit of trepidation) obliged.

“I don’t think they were there to try to catch anybody,” says OKIN of the 15 central bankers that confirmed as much as the assembly. “They were like ‘Show us how we can buy burgers [with bitcoin].’”

After studying that a lot of the bankers didn’t know the distinction between a custodial pockets and a non-custodial pockets, OKIN taught them tips on how to switch their bitcoin from their Coinbase alternate pockets to a Muun Pockets. As soon as the bankers have been arrange with Muun, they went to city and spent over 6,000 Namibian {dollars} (US$323) value of bitcoin on burgers and beers earlier than the assembly was via.

“This was just to see how they could spend their bitcoin,” states OKIN, who added that almost all of them “didn’t know what [they] could do with this thing (Bitcoin)… People are telling [them] that [they] can’t do anything with it, [that] it’s just magic internet money.”

However after that encounter with OKIN, their perspective had begun to shift, and so they really consulted OKIN for his or her analysis on Central Financial institution Digital Currencies (CBDC). To spotlight the dangers of surveillance and centralized management related to CBDCs, OKIN pointed to the failure of the eNaira, a CBDC in Nigeria, the primary African nation to launch one. He identified in his commentary to the central financial institution that only one% of Nigerians have been utilizing the eNaira whereas 50% have been utilizing some type of cryptocurrency, primarily bitcoin.

Having spent some time in Namibia myself, this story wasn’t so shocking. Throughout my time within the nation, I seen how accessible each high-ranking members of establishments and politicians have been. After I prompt that the accessibility of authorities within the nation may be a plus in relation to Bitcoin getting its truthful shot in Namibia, OKIN agreed.

“Everybody’s a person; a politician is still a person,” says OKIN. “It’s not like [these] people are behind a walled garden — not in Namibia.”

Whereas the Namibian authorities are contemplating higher Bitcoin adoption, on a regular basis Namibians stay free to make use of it at their very own threat, to pay for items and companies with it in the event that they so please.

Now, let’s go subsequent door — to South Africa — to see how Bitcoin is bettering lives within the nation.

South Africa

Luthando Ndabambi, a frontrunner within the Bitcoin Ekasi neighborhood, resides proof of how bitcoin is starting to interrupt South Africans free from the shackles of poverty.

“Bitcoin changed[d] my life,” shares Ndabambi, a Black South African born into apartheid. “I was living [in] a shack where [when] it’s raining, I had to move [my] bed at night because the rain was getting inside the shack. But my life now has really changed because I’m living [in] a proper house now — because of Bitcoin.”

Not solely has saving in bitcoin allowed Ndabambi to improve his bodily residing circumstances, but it surely altered his habits for the higher, as properly.

“I was drinking a lot; I was not thinking about [the] future,” explains Ndabambi. “After I [began] working for Bitcoin Ekasi, my life change[d] completely. I’m thinking different[ly] than before. I don’t care about parties. I just focus on my girlfriend and my son, and my family, as well. But I don’t care about other thing[s] like wasting my money. I always think, ‘If I go to the club, I’m going to eat (spend) a lot of money… No, do not go just to waste money.’ I have to use my money [for] something that’s going to change my life a lot.”

Ndabambi is the embodiment of the concept that “Bitcoin is hope”. And this kind of hope is uncommon to search out in Black South Africans who grew up in townships each throughout and post-apartheid in response to Hermann Vivier, founding father of Bitcoin Ekasi and Bitcoin Journal contributor.

After I met Vivier in New York Metropolis and took a ferry with him from the southern tip of Manhattan to the small island on which the Statue of Liberty is positioned, Vivier defined to me that apartheid did rather more harm to non-white South Africans than could be measured. “It was designed to break spirits and to instill hopelessness,” says Vivier.

He then defined to me how Ndabambi has develop into a mannequin for these in his neighborhood, as Ndabambi has labored laborious to finish duties and assume obligations that he in any other case won’t have if he didn’t really imagine that the long run might be brighter — largely due to Bitcoin.

Now, let’s head over to West Africa to listen to from a Ghanaian who’s doing every thing in his energy to usher in a brighter future for Ghana with Bitcoin.


Kumi Nkansah, journalist by commerce and founding father of the Bitcoin instructional group the Bitcoin Cowries, has been doing his half to orange-pill not solely as many on a regular basis Ghanians as doable but additionally members of the Ghanaian authorities.

“I got called into a very high-ranking office in the government to come and talk about Bitcoin,” shares Nkansah. “This is what they said to me: Keep on — learn as much as you can. Once we are ready, we’ll call you again [and] you will come and help us make certain decisions when it comes to Bitcoin. We like what you’re doing. Keep up with it.”

Nkansah defined that politicians in Ghana are open to the thought of Bitcoin as a result of “they can feel the inflation; they can feel how they are losing money (purchasing power), so they are trying to find alternatives.”

His interplay with a member of parliament (MoP) was notably inspiring.

“I got called by one member of parliament,” begins Nkansah. “His sibling actually came for the Trezor Academy (an event Kumi hosted), and I gave him a hardware wallet. So, he took the hardware wallet and showed [it] to this member of parliament. And then I got called to explain what it is and how they can use it.”

In line with Nkansah, right here’s how the dialog between him and this member of parliament went:

Nkansah: “Sir, did you know next year is the election year in the US?”

MoP: “Yes.”

Nkansah: “Did you know three of the presidential candidates are accepting bitcoin payments [for donations for their campaigns]?”

MoP: “Really?!”

Nkansah: “Yes, they are. Where do we borrow money from? Is it not the US? So, if these guys who want to be president are telling US citizens how they’re going to use Bitcoin to transform the economy and we are not learning more, and at the end of the day we’re going to borrow money from these same people, what are we doing to ourselves? We better start learning about Bitcoin.”

MoP: “Hey, gentleman, you have just shocked me. I’m going to learn more about this — but you have to learn more so that when the time comes, you will teach us what we have to do.”

Nkansah went on to elucidate how whereas some members of the Ghanaian authorities attended the primary African Bitcoin Convention, which came about in Ghana final yr, much more will attend this yr in efforts to continue learning. And this schooling is sorely wanted as Ghana is being pressured by the IMF to implement a CBDC.

“One of the IMF’s conditions is for governments to leverage on CBDCs,” explains Nkansah. “But if they (Ghanaian government officials) should come and learn about the real difference between Bitcoin and CBDCs, they would actually figure out the best way to go about it — rather than doing what the IMF is saying.”

We will solely hope that the powers that be in Ghana proceed to comply with Nkansah’s lead.

Now, let’s head over to East Africa to listen to from another person who has the ear of members of their authorities.


Kal Kassa, founding father of Bitcoin Birr, an open-sourced Bitcoin instructional platform and Bitcoin Journal contributor, is a local Ethiopian with American citizenship who has obtained permission from the Ethiopian authorities to teach the nation’s residents about Bitcoin — although it’s technically unlawful to carry the asset throughout the nation’s borders.

“Members of the government on an individual basis have been helpful in terms of giving me some sort of platform, giving me the ability to speak to audiences,” explains Kassa. “We have a defragmented or decentralized way of governing, so if you were to ask 15 ministers [about Bitcoin], you’re going to get 15 different responses. It’s not going to come from the institution or the agency or the office, but it’s going to come from that individual — and I’m sure they’re holding it (bitcoin) on their private books. There has been some good progress, but just nothing on an official basis.”

Kassa went on to debate how individuals who maintain and use bitcoin achieve this in a authorized gray space, which sounded much less ominous than what he wrote in an article he penned for Bitcoin Journal entitled “The Marathon: Ethiopia and Bitcoin”.

“Even as regulators and lawmen use sticks of persuasion, citizens boldly send and stack sats,” wrote Kassa. “If you thought laser-eyed fund managers in the West were bullish, you haven’t met 23 year-old Ethiopian freelancers who run completely digitized projects (from procurement to contracting and invoicing) using applications and Layer 2 open-source Lightning wallets. Humble as these transactions may be, these kids are taking a large risk to fulfill their basic rights of untampered money and sovereign value.”

However primarily based on what Kassa is saying now mixed with the truth that, in response to Kassa, nobody within the nation has been prosecuted for utilizing or holding bitcoin, it doesn’t appear that Ethiopian Bitcoiners have a lot to concern.

Kassa defined that as a result of there’s been no prosecution for utilizing Bitcoin and subsequently no authorized precedent set, most are merely following what the Nationwide Financial institution of Ethiopia has said, which is that Bitcoin isn’t authorized tender and that any losses sustained whereas utilizing the asset are past what the financial institution can cowl.

The state of affairs is analogous throughout the borders of Ethiopia’s subsequent door neighbor, Kenya.


Grasp Guantai, founding father of Bitcoin Mtaani, a platform that educates Kenyans about Bitcoin in a number of African nationwide languages, explains that Kenyans are primarily free to make use of Bitcoin at their very own threat, as per the Central Financial institution of Kenya.

“In Kenya, [according to the] government and central bank, Bitcoin is not a currency,” states Grasp Guantai, who additionally added that the messaging from Kenyan authorities round bitcoin is “use it at your own risk; do your own thing.”

He did add, although, that additional laws round Bitcoin is probably going on the best way however that there’s little likelihood it could hinder adoption.

“Basically, all African countries are just waiting for America to pass a law and then they’ll copy paste [it] with some edits,” he explains. “So, the American [law] or the European [law] — whoever does it first — will [create] the template, which will set the tone of how harsh or how lenient the Kenyan government [will be].”

After I requested Grasp Guantai if he was fearful that the Kenyan authorities may undertake unhealthy or anti-Bitcoin laws from the US, he responded with a transparent “No”.

“Kenyans, we have our way of making our government listen to us even if by force — especially on Twitter,” he explains. “Kenyans on Twitter are no joke at all. If something is not in good taste or whatever, it [gets] blown out of proportion to the extent that even our own president cannot ignore it. He has to address it when it becomes a whole thing. The government’s primary objective is to look out for the youth. The government does not want to hear the youth saying ‘You’re bringing this legislation which is negative and we already don’t have jobs [even though] we are educated; it’s like you’re blocking us from opportunities left, right and center.’ With that in mind, I can say I’m not worried.”

Marcel Lorraine, founding father of Bitcoin Dada, a corporation that educates African girls about Bitcoin, doesn’t appear fearful both, particularly since Kenya is such a tech-friendly nation.

“Kenya has established itself as a pro-technology nation, earning the nickname ‘Silicon Savannah’ for its vibrant tech ecosystem,” shares Lorraine. “The country’s government has actively promoted technology adoption through initiatives like mobile money pioneer M-Pesa, digital literacy programs, and e-government services. Kenya boasts a burgeoning startup scene, tech hubs, and research institutions, fostering innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Lorraine explains that particularly due to Kenya’s work in implementing M-Pesa, a cell cash service created to extend monetary inclusion in Kenya and different African nations, it needs to be open to the thought of Bitcoin.

“Kenya’s leadership in peer-to-peer (P2P) transactions through technologies like M-Pesa offers an interesting connection to cryptocurrencies,” explains Lorraine. “Some Kenyan individuals and businesses have started exploring cryptocurrencies [like bitcoin] as an alternative to traditional financial services, particularly for cross-border transactions and as a store of value.”

After listening to these phrases from Grasp Guantai and Marcel Lorraine, it’s laborious to think about the Kenyan authorities or central financial institution wanting to chop off on a regular basis Kenyans from the kind of empowerment and monetary autonomy that Bitcoin presents.

Let’s make one final cease in East Africa earlier than we wrap this up.


Whereas the Financial institution of Tanzania, the nation’s central financial institution, issued a one-page statement in 2019 in regards to the risks of cryptocurrencies and the truth that they aren’t thought of authorized tender in Tanzania, this hasn’t stopped trailblazers like Man Like Kweks from selling higher Bitcoin adoption within the nation.

Man Like Kweks, a instructor by commerce and a musician, just lately summitted Mount Kilimanjaro with the assistance of the over 5 million Sats he raised by way of Geyser Fund in efforts to convey consideration to and lift funds for his new Bitcoin schooling program: POWA (Proof of Work Academy).

“There’s been many different projects that have been funded by bitcoin, [and] I want[ed] to put Tanzania on the map,” explains Man Like Kweks. “I was just very blessed that my network in the Bitcoin and Nostr community was enough to get enough traction to climb it (Mount Kilimanjaro).”

And as for the inspiration behind the title of his academy:

“In Swahili, a greeting is ‘mambo’ and then the response is ‘powa’, [which means] ‘things are cool’,” he explains. “[POWA] is targeting the youth. Linking it with ‘Proof of Work’, I just wanted to do something cool and something fresh, and calling it an academy, it all just kinda worked.”

It positively did work, and issues will probably proceed to be very cool for the Tanzanian youth if they will comply with Man Like Kweks’ lead and leverage the worldwide Bitcoin neighborhood to assist elevate their inventive efforts.

Handing Africa The Torch

So, now you may need a greater thought of why I’m a bit envious of what I see occurring in sure African jurisdictions in comparison with the one through which I reside.

Whereas New York continues to be inhospitable to Bitcoin companies, Africans are taking the bull by the horns and forging forward fearlessly, working to create a future buoyed by a community on which customers can transact permissionlessly with the toughest asset humanity has ever identified.

If Girl Liberty may, I’m certain she’d attain throughout the Atlantic and hand Africans her torch, asking them to run with it, as a result of the phrases of Kal Kassa — “Ethiopia, we’re a country of poor, young masses. Give them a computer and some objective and we’ll get there” — sound much more just like the phrases printed at Her base — “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” — than the phrases of authorities in New York, or the US extra broadly.

Godspeed, Africa, and I’ll see you on the African Bitcoin Convention in Ghana in December.

This can be a visitor submit by Frank Corva. Opinions expressed are totally their very own and don’t essentially replicate these of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Journal.

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