Accelerating Africa’s Growth Through Blockchain Technology

Africa is far behind regarding technological innovations. The continent needs a solution to catch up with the rest of the world. However, the current lack of infrastructure can turn into a big advantage. Africa currently provides an exceptional playground and field of exploration for blockchain opportunities. This, in turn, could result in accelerated growth for the continent.

This paper aims to analyze how blockchain technology accelerates economic, cultural and societal growth in Africa. To start with the investigation, a short explanation of blockchain technology will be provided in the next section.

Blockchain technology explained

Blockchain technology is in the spotlight. As many analysts are saying, the best ways of this revolutionary technology are still to come. If blockchain technology is used properly, it can accelerate innovation development and help humanity to reach the next level of evolution

Blockchain is a public decentralized registry, which works without middlemen. The best examples are Bitcoin and Ethereum. This disruptive technology has a strong potential to make businesses, governments, supply chain systems more reliable and safe. As a new form of database, blockchain technology solves many financial problems such as removing middlemen and avoiding double-spending.

If companies successfully deploy blockchain applications, they can improve the quality of their business processes.

Potential applications of blockchain technology

Blockchain technology applications have the potential to restructure the business and social infrastructures. Due to its advantages such as decentralization, security, and transparency, the potential applications of this new technology are endless.

It is notable to mention that the market for blockchain applications has grown enormously in the last few years. Experts are confident that the market will grow to 2.3 billion US dollars by 2021.

Unlocking blockchain opportunities in Africa

Possible implementations are already being explored in countries like South Africa, Ghana, and Kenya. While the understanding and knowledge of blockchain technology is still poor, some applications have already been developed. Examples are:

  • Online payment systems for e-commerce
  • International money transfer systems
  • Land security systems
  • System for tracking raw materials
  • System for public procurement.

Africa has the highest rate of people that are holding their foreign currencies in mobile accounts as opposed to bank accounts. Therefore, its inhabitants have a strong interest to invest in cryptocurrencies.

In comparison, figure 1 shows that regions such as South Asia and the Middle East demonstrate a lower amount of inhabitants that are holding their foreign currencies in mobile accounts.  It can be concluded that other regions demonstrate a smaller demand to engage with digital currencies.

Figure: Percentage of foreign currencies held in mobile accounts


How can blockchain technology benefit Africa?

With its unique technical features, blockchain has a huge potential to improve societies and economies. Enormous efficiency gains in economic sectors such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries, gas and water supply, manufacturing, public administration, and communication can be achieved. In this regard, blockchain technology has already demonstrated significant impacts in the following economic sectors:

  • Facilitating transactions among African countries: With the help of blockchain technology, cross border transactions within Africa become more cost-effective.
  • Reducing the costs of remittance payments: Cryptocurrencies eliminate the use of traditional remittance companies that charge around 10%.
  • Increasing access to financial services: 80% of Africans are unbanked. In turn, blockchain applications can provide access to affordable financial services in low-income countries.
  • Issuing credits to small and medium enterprises: Blockchain benefits African companies by providing better credits through smart contracts .

Is the blockchain in Africa rising despite the continent’s challenges?

An increasing number of African companies are researching blockchain technology but are operating outside of existing securities laws. Regulators could then apply pressure which would make blockchain business models unsustainable.

However, blockchains can only be sustainable if the cryptocurrency reaches broad adoption. It is therefore of utmost importance to work with governments and regulators in order to create sustainable blockchains for the African continent.

IBM, for example, is already engaging with the blockchain environment in Africa. Furthermore, Binance has launched a cryptocurrency exchange in Uganda.

Another challenge is the lack of infrastructure. Many cities have limited energy and internet, which prevents them from innovating and growing . 

Despite the obstacles, it can be concluded that efforts are being made to continue with the implementation and widespread adoption of blockchain technology in Africa. The continent is the leader in mobile money, which means there are high demand and interest in blockchain applications and digital currencies.

How these efforts look like, will be shown in the next paragraph:

Blockchain use cases in Africa

BitHub Africa, a Nairobi based blockchain accelerator for local start-ups, started its operations in 2015. The hub helps start-ups to grow and expand . 

Another example is Ghana, where most of the landowners are unregistered and don’t have any ownership titles. The startup Bitland, which is specializing in blockchain technology, has allowed landowners to register their lands and real property rights. The public blockchain is already serving 28 communities.

Also, South Africa is setting a good example with the Blockchain Academy in Cape Town, where local startups and entrepreneurs are taking blockchain and cryptocurrency courses .

Conclusion and outlook

Blockchain technology is an accelerator to Africa’s growth. While Africa has the highest number of inhabitants that are holding foreign currencies in mobile accounts, efforts are increased to unlock the blockchain’s enormous opportunities in the continent.

Moreover, blockchain applications have already been developed such as international money transfer systems and land security systems. On top of that, blockchain technology has helped the continent to facilitate transactions among African countries and to increase access to financial services.

The continent still faces obstacles. Regulators could make blockchain business models unsustainable and a lack of infrastructure is slowing down widespread adoption. On the other hand, a substantial number of use cases demonstrate that blockchain technology is being taken very seriously.

If there was no such form of technology, the continent would still have difficulties in growing its economy and creating more wealth for its inhabitants. Besides, there would be fewer incentives for building startups, which are important to Africa’s economy.

The economic situation in Africa causes a higher demand of blockchain technology. Thus, stable growth and broad implementation of blockchain applications are certain. However, it is expected to be more patient until all efforts and initiatives are bringing significant results.


The governments in Africa need to establish and define regulations that favor blockchain technology. Many countries in Europe have already made considerable progress in embracing this new technology. Africa should learn from those countries.

In regards to infrastructure, Kenya is already setting a very good example. However, most of the countries on the continent need a clear vision to follow the example of Kenya.

The public sector could fund those required infrastructure projects. On the other side, public debts and political instabilities can result in a significant delay. Therefore, private companies are called to contribute and to invest. This can be done by making the new technology appealing to them and to explain its benefits.


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Justin Krakenbuerger is a Blockchain Researcher and Developer. Justin has a lot of international professional experience. After he graduated with a Master in Business Administration in Germany, he worked in London and in Dubai. The experience abroad has shaped his way of thinking and professional approach. Following his return to Europe, Justin moved to Greece where he applied all his experience and knowledge to create a company that is specializing in blockchain research and development. Justin lives in Greater Athens, Greece. He speaks German, English, French and Greek fluently. Justin is teaching and inspiring refugees and immigrants in Greek NGOs.

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