As crypto leaders head to Nairobi for the Sixth Africa Tech Summit, this last year may have been relatively quieter for Web3 development on the African continent. Despite the general cryptocurrency market downturn and waning interest in cryptocurrency, some moves were made to push adoption, as discussed in our 2023 African crypto roundup. With the new year here, one may wonder what the future holds for Web3 adoption on the African continent.
AppsAfrica/Africa Tech Summit spoke with a range of experts from across the industry to discover what 2024 holds for the African Web3 Space. Here is what the experts are saying:
Web3 adoption in Africa will increase in 2024
Adoption is one of the biggest talking points at the beginning of every year. This is largely because the economic situation on the continent has led to the devaluation of local currencies, high cost of living, and high levels of unemployment, making cryptocurrencies and their ecosystem a viable alternative to the traditional financial system.
Farzam Ehsani, CEO of South African-based cryptocurrency exchange Valr, shares his projections for the new year. Ehsani argues that the current financial systems are ineffective and people deserve better, something that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies can offer, especially for payments.
“Our beautiful African continent is divided into over 50 sovereign territories with a jumble of different currencies and high costs to transfer money. If you ask any African whether it’s easier to send an email or to move money, no one will say moving money is easier. Bitcoin and crypto will usher in an age where moving money will become as simple as sending an email across the continent. Africa deserves a better financial system. Crypto should help us get there.” – Farzam Ehsani, CEO of Valr
Currently, sending money across the African continent is still a struggle for many despite multiple attempts by major fintech firms to fix the problem. Beyond the expensive nature (fees), there are multiple steps that make it so complex for the average person. In some instances, to avoid a significant loss of value during the transactions, people have to convert from their local currency to the US dollar and then to another African country to maintain as much value as possible. Stablecoins and Bitcoin have been touted by many as great tools for solving payment problems on the continent. This trend is set to become more popular in 2024, with some major African fintech companies looking to use stablecoins as a means of enabling payments. During the Africa Money and DeFi Summit West Africa 2023 held in Accra, Ghana, Flutterwave, the most valuable fintech unicorn and startup in Africa, announced a partnership with Hedera blockchain to integrate USDC. This announcement is significant because Flutterwave processes billions of payments across the continent, indicating a potential turning point in the adoption of stablecoins for cross-border payments in Africa.
Kena Amoah, CEO of MITA, puts a figure to the projections on more adoption. According to the CEO of a firm, building a Web3 gaming experience that combines DeFi, the Metaverse, and traditional gaming technology, the big number is 100 million.
“As we look ahead in 2024, the future of Web3 and crypto in Africa is poised for unprecedented growth and impact. With a young and tech-savvy population, Africa stands as a fertile ground for the adoption of blockchain technology, GameFi and decentralized finance (DeFi). I anticipate a substantial increase in crypto adoption rates, with projections indicating that over 100 million Africans will actively engage with digital assets.
I foresee a rise in blockchain-based solutions which will address the longstanding challenges, particularly in the financial sector. Recent data showcases a surge in crypto ownership across Africa, with over 53 million crypto owners in Africa currently, we will be seeing more growth in 2024.” – Kena Amoah, CEO of MITA.
Victor Denise Idongesit, a Web3 Community Manager and popular voice on X (Twitter,) shares in the optimism of renewed interest and mass adoption.
“In 2024, Africa will witness a crypto boom like no other. With increased accessibility, mobile money integration, and innovative use cases, crypto will become the cornerstone of financial inclusion and empower millions across the continent. While 2024 will see significant crypto adoption in Africa, regulatory uncertainties and lack of infrastructure could pose challenges. Navigating these hurdles will be critical for widespread adoption and sustainable growth,” said Victor Denise Idongesit, Web3 Community Manager.
Denise is quick to point out that the growth will not come with hurdles, as regulations will continue to be a major area of concern for builders and users of cryptocurrency.
Will regulators change their minds?
Regulations have become a hot topic on the continent because multiple central banks and regulators have fought against cryptocurrency adoption in the past. In 2023, significant changes in major markets like South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, and Nigeria point to a potential shift in approach by regulators.
Harri Obi, the co-lead of Superteam Nigeria, mentions that more African countries will see a positive shift in regulatory sentiments in 2024.
“Regulations are on the horizon, whether we like it or not. Therefore, as stakeholders, it’s in our best interest to participate in shaping favourable crypto regulations. One of my predictions for the African crypto space in 2023 was that regulatory bodies would demand more assurances, ask more questions, and enact stricter policies to safeguard their citizens following the FTX and AAX debacles. South Africa is already taking the lead in this regard. Just before the year’s end, the Central Bank of Africa’s largest crypto economy lifted its crypto banking restriction. With Nigeria’s regional position and influence, I anticipate that more African countries will follow suit. Coupled with the imminent bull market, I expect to see more institutional players, investors, builders, and liquidity flowing into the space. Overall, I’m optimistic about the African crypto space in 2024.” Harri Obi, co-lead of Superteam Nigeria
In 2023, South Africa formalized regulations, Nigeria lifted restrictions on traditional financial institutions working with cryptocurrency companies, and Ghana and Kenya kickstarted the process of formalizing regulations in the new year. These changes may lead to the attraction of major projects that have stayed away from the continent due to uncertainty in regulation.
Africa becomes a hotspot for the on-chain wars
The two biggest projections by many thought leaders from the continent are adoption and better regulations. According to Elisha (GhCryptoGuy), former Business Development Manager at Binance and Podcast Host at Cointelegraph, these two events will make Africa a hotspot for projects looking to onboard new users and capture significant market share.
“Africa will become the battleground for the wars of the L1s and L2s. Think Ethereum vs. Solana and Optimism vs. Arbitrum. Africa will play a significant role in these on-chain wars as various networks seek to find the next million users and developers to build the applications that will attract the users. The continent creates a fertile ground for cryptocurrency adoption, but the question of who leads the pack needs to be answered. For instance, the use of stablecoins is on the rise, but on what blockchain would people prefer? In 2024, more projects will invest heavily in education, marketing and developer initiatives to claim a portion of the growing market.” – Elisha (GhCryptoGuy), Podcast Host for Cointelegraph.
Signs of this battle can already be seen with the increase in developer groups for Ethereum, Solana, and some Ethereum layer 2 networks on the continent.
Based on what various experts are saying, the Web3 landscape in Africa is heading for a bullish 2024, with regulations as the biggest hurdle to mass adoption sponsored by a struggle for the next million users on the continent.
To see these trends and projections in action, attend the Africa Tech Summit 2024 in Kenya to see what is happening in the African cryptocurrency landscape firsthand.