Bitcoin leaders come together to drive Blockchain adoption across Africa

On Thursday 15th December 2016 BitHub.Africa hosted a Bitcoin meetup in Nairobi. It was a great meet up that saw it graced by guest speakers like Sinclair Skinner, the enthusiastic African-American who gave us a scintillating account on the proper orientation of technology, Alakanani, the effusive Bitcoinlady who was quite poignant on the stark difference between Bitcoin and traditional financial systems, and finally Peter Todd who addressed the contentious elements of scaling Bitcoin. I’d also like to note the presence of Michael Kimani, notable Bitcoin propagator, CEO and Co-Founder at Umati, local Bitcoin company that offers advisory and exchange services to clients on Bitcoin. And from the hallowed halls of academia, we had Gibson, Co-Founder at BitSoko, a wallet service dedicated to the business case adoption. Not to mention the blokes from the newly launched Blockchained TV who are making a documentary for the sole purpose of driving Bitcoin adoption in Africa. Convened by the well-known Bitcoin crusader, John Karanja, who is  the Founder of BitHub Africa, an accelerator committed to the development of Bitcoin and Blockchain solutions. John has been a pioneer in the tech space in Kenya and it is only natural for him to be at the front guard of an impending revolution in Africa.

To extol on the issues that emerged, three issues stood out during the conversations by the guest speakers:

Alakanani Itireleng, fondly known as the Bitcoin lady, gave us a passionate account of her experience in accessing funds in Botswana, of how one cannot withdraw more than 10,000 Pulas one needs to obtain permission to acquire more, which is a ludicrous thing! Then she said something rather brilliant, “…with Bitcoin, the banks are never closed!” With a team behind her, she is becoming a veritable force and pioneer for the space on the continent. As founder of Satoshi Centre, Alah is collaborating with Bitcoin operators and enthusiasts alike to drive it’s adoption.

Sinclair Skinner, who spoke extensively on the sociological aspects of Bitcoin tracing back to his work as an activist for the advocacy of Black Empowerment and Liberation. He spoke about how current monetary systems in Africa are not built for indigenous people and how Bitcoin & Blockchain as a socio-political tool for just not change but for revolution, which is demanded of us techno-philosophers. So having the “proper orientation” about technological inspiration and what it can do to the amelioration of the indigenous situation. One of the most illuminating statements he made was the fact the biggest competition in the Bitcoin & Blockchain space is user adoption. Having founded BitMari, which offers a wallet service to the population in Zimbabwe, he is working with one of the largest State-owned African to streamline and apply the Bitcoin technology in Agriculture. Proving the concept he hopes to make relevant the technology to the local context.

Peter Todd, one of the Six, if one were to be dramatic, one would refer to them as the brotherhood of the six! He stood in front of the room and went off on an esoteric exposition of the Bitcoin code. He addressed the controversies facing the scaling question. The way he spoke, showed a man grappling with a technical conundrum in league with the political element of the scaling. Again, the age-old query remains, ‘Cui Bono’ when it comes to the contestants of the scaling- Lightning, Segwit, things like Bitcoin Core and Bitcoin Classic. All these things are enough to render one quizzical, but nonetheless they must be tackled if Bitcoin were to thrive and prove utilitarian in the long run! Off a thing that stood out is his research, which he dubbed Sharding, essentially breaking up the Blockchain into shards, what in blimey am I saying, think shards of glass as it breaks, it is the same glass, but distributed. That’s one way to grasp the first principles of this research item.

Indeed, as this Bitcoin meet up showed, Africa is a crucible for innovation, case in point, in Kenya where the success of M-Pesa is unparalleled. We have the opportunity to be on the cusp of something epoch-making, to delve into the inspiration of technology to better our lives. It is not only a viable business endeavour, but a commitment to future generations who will demand of us, the ancestors, to act in the common good for Bitcoin and the blockchain ecosystem it is spanning.

The Blockchained.TV crew also launched their crowdfund appeal for funds to finish the production of the Blockchained documentary, a story on Bitcoin adoption in Africa.

Photos of the meetup.