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Cryptocurrency in Africa : Investing in the future

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Cryptocurrency in Africa : Investing in the future

Cryptocurrency is rapidly expanding its footprint across Africa, offering a hedge against economic volatility and fostering legislative support to invigorate its burgeoning market.

Levers for the adoption of Bitcoin in Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa commands a notable 9.3 % share of the global cryptocurrency transaction volume, as reported by Chainalysis. Between July 2022 and June 2023, virtual currency exchanges within this region surged to an impressive 117.1 billion USD. Notably, interest in digital currencies is rising in North Africa, with Morocco and Egypt witnessing a burgeoning adoption rate. Across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, crypto fund transfers contribute significantly, accounting for 7.2 % of the global total.

Blockchain technology offers inclusive investment avenues and a compelling alternative to conventional financial systems. Its increasing prominence owes to various factors, including its inherent benefits and the aspirational allure of successful cryptocurrency investors, which is particularly resonant among the younger demographic. Moreover, economic uncertainties, inflation concerns, and the imperative for seamless cross-border transactions further propel this trend.

Enhanced efficiency in international transfers

Cryptocurrencies offer a decentralized and reliable means of transferring, receiving, storing, and investing funds. Leveraging blockchain technology, they facilitate swift and cost-effective cross-border transactions in Africa, safeguarding currency value and bolstering reliability. With robust security measures, cryptocurrencies become appealing for transactions demanding trust and transparency. This financial alternative is especially advantageous in rural areas with sparse traditional banking infrastructure.

Securing economies through decentralization

Crypto assets play a vital role in safeguarding economies against the volatile nature of fiat currency and inflation. Heightened economic uncertainties often erode trust in traditional financial systems. The decentralized nature of crypto assets fosters a sense of security and independence. For instance, amidst Nigeria’s record inflation rates, the widespread adoption of stablecoins serves as a hedge against Naira depreciation. Similarly, Ghanaian reliance on Bitcoin grows amid liquidity shortages in the cedi.

Advancing financial inclusion

Cryptocurrency emerges as a pertinent solution to foster financial inclusion. The popularity of trading digital currencies, such as Bitcoin, has soared, becoming a favored investment avenue. This technology enables individuals to participate in trading with minimal initial investment. Moreover, the rise of FinTech further democratizes access to the crypto space in Africa, catering to individuals from diverse socio-economic backgrounds.

Advancements in blockchain utilization across Africa

African countries are advancing in the Global Cryptocurrency Adoption Index developed by Chainalysis. This index considers transactions conducted on centralized platforms and peer-to-peer exchanges, reflecting a substantial portion of the overall volume. While some African nations continue to enforce bans on crypto assets, others are adopting compromise measures and actively pursuing regulatory frameworks to navigate this evolving sector.

Nigeria : Spearheading cryptocurrency growth

Nigeria, the largest economy in Africa, is a pivotal player in the expanding landscape of cryptocurrency usage. According to a comprehensive study by Chainalysis covering 50 nations, Nigeria boasts an impressive adoption rate of 9 %. Positions the country 3rd globally and establishes its leadership regionally. Nigeria’s crypto economy alone generates a staggering 56.7 billion USD, constituting nearly half of the total volume in the sub-Saharan region.

Kenya : Embracing cryptocurrency innovation

Renowned for its trailblazing approach to adopting new technologies, Kenya stands out as one of the most dynamic nations in cryptocurrency. Despite a recent deceleration in its crypto market, primarily attributed to a downturn in peer-to-peer transactions from July 2022 to June 2023, Kenya remains a formidable presence. According to Chainalysis, the transaction volume during this period amounted to 8.4 billion USD, compared to 20 billion USD the previous year over the same timeframe. Consequently, Kenya’s global ranking slips from 19th to 21st, signaling a nuanced trajectory in its crypto journey.

Ghana : Increasing adoption despite ban

Despite regulatory prohibitions, Ghana is a significant player in cryptocurrency transactions within sub-Saharan Africa, securing the fifth position. Many individuals in the country turn to Bitcoin as a hedge against economic instability, reflecting a growing adoption trend. However, the use of cryptocurrencies remains officially prohibited within Ghana’s borders. In July 2023, the Ghanaian Minister of State for Finance reiterated the ban on all virtual currency-related transactions.

South Africa : Pioneer in regulation

Distinguished by its progressive regulatory framework for cryptocurrency exchanges, South Africa stands at the forefront of regulatory innovation on the continent. This proactive stance, aimed at safeguarding investor interests, propels the growth of the South African cryptocurrency market. By the close of 2022, the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) is set to implement a licensing regime, formalizing these digital assets as financial products. According to Chainalysis rankings, South Africa is second in sub-Saharan Africa. Notably, from June 2022 to July 2023, the volume of cryptocurrency exchanges in the country approached 21 billion USD.

Morocco : Rising crypto and regulation

In a significant milestone, Morocco secures a spot in the top 20 of Chainalysis’ Global Crypto Adoption Index for the first time in the 2022 edition. The kingdom solidifies its standing as a critical player in the virtual currency landscape of North Africa, ranking 5th in Chainalysis’ MENA region assessment. Despite initial governmental skepticism, Moroccan interest in virtual currency surges. The adoption rate is projected to increase from 2.4 % in 2021 to 3.1 % in 2022, with further growth to 4.9 % anticipated in 2023.

Outlook on bitcoin regulation for 2023 and beyond

The decline in cryptocurrency transaction volumes in Kenya is primarily attributed to regulatory shifts aimed at curbing potential money laundering and illicit financing through blockchain channels. However, amidst the expanding footprint of virtual currencies in African urban hubs, government bodies are actively exploring avenues to harness their benefits.

Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs), digital incarnations of local currencies, are emerging as a focal point. Despite regulatory constraints, Ghana’s central bank remains committed to modernization, embarking on a two-year journey to develop its own CBDC, the eCedi. Meanwhile, the Bank Al-Maghrib is contemplating legislation to regulate and legitimize the cryptocurrency sector in Morocco.

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