Unlocking the global digital economy in Africa

Unlocking the global digital economy in Africa

Once one of the most prosperous and thriving economies of the world, Africa today is making great strides to shift away from being the poorest region in the world

Africa is a region that is unique in many ways. Before the arrival and exploitation in the late 19th and early 20th centuries of western imperialism, the continent was one of the most prosperous and economically thriving regions of the world, mainly because of its immense natural resources.

Today, it is the world’s largest but poorest region. However, it represents a significant opportunity for FinTechs and cryptocurrencies, particularly those focused on eradicating financial exclusion.

Why it represents an opportunity

On November 1st, Worldometers reported that just over 1.3 billion people were living in Africa. That represents 16.7% of the world’s 7.7 billion inhabitants. The median age in the continent is 19.4 years.

The United Nations says that provided with the knowledge and the opportunities, youth represent a positive force for economic development. The younger generations are also the most tech-savvy and open to change. They represent the largest age group in today’s workforce, according to a study. However, the World Bank says youths account for 60% of all of Africa’s unemployed.

The 54 countries in the African continent are home to newer generations and the middle of Africa is the youngest region in the world. Their global share of people younger than 15 years of age is 46%, according to PRB.

Most experts agree that millennials, including post-millennials, are particularly open to embracing new technology and cryptocurrency, agree Forbes and Cointelegraph. The same goes for those who are unbanked. Venezuela is a prime example.

Traditional banks vs Fintech and Crypto

Access to traditional financial services remains almost a mirage for the majority of the African population, as 66% is unbanked. However, the penetration of mobile devices in the regions has provided millions of access to digital banking. In fact, according to Forbes, mobile digital accounts are now higher in number than bank accounts. “The number of new FinTech users has increased by 250% to 7.2 million from the 2012 baseline,” the news outlet stated.

Sub-Saharan Africa (the African nations south of the Sahara desert) is the only region in the world where nearly 10% of gross domestic product (GDP) in transactions are processed through mobile currency, according to an International Monetary Fund (IMF) study. It added that most Africans currently depend on mobile payments to send and receive funds domestically and, increasingly, internationally. Mobile apps are also increasingly being used to pay bills, receive wages, and purchase goods and services.

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Technological innovation is enabling an increasing number of Africans to move up the financial services value chain, the IMF added. They are accessing mobile financial services to open savings accounts for loans, insurance, and investments. With over 20 million users, M-Pesa is arguably the best example of this in Africa.

Electroneum is another start-up poised to help reduce financial exclusion in the region. Thousands of merchants in South Africa, Uganda, and other African countries are already accepting ETN, the name of Electroneum’s cryptocurrency. It is a mobile-based cryptocurrency that does not require users to have a bank account.

Johannesburg, South Africa.
Johannesburg, South Africa.

Users benefit from the up to US$3 worth of ETN every month, for simply engaging with the app. This can be used for mobile top-ups and, in some areas, for purchases of everyday items like bread, milk, maize and services, such as taxi rides, car washes, and haircuts. Electroneum’s ecosystem will grow further through the ETN Everywhere, their on-the-ground program to incentivise and educate thousands of merchants to accept ETN.

In a United Nations blog, business and tech journalist Rakesh Sharma said, “Africa is rarely mentioned among the largest markets for cryptocurrency, but it may be set to steal a march over other markets.” This is already true in South Africa, which tops the list of Hootsuite’s 2019 survey of internet users reporting they own crypto.

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Freelancer and eLearning platforms

Electroneum’s mobile app is one of the fastest ways to globally send and receive payments, and it is free. Electroneum aims to spur local prosperity in developing countries by providing access to global digital economy through its AnyTask freelancer platform. It gives people the opportunity to sell skills online and earn ETN at no cost. Buyers of these digital tasks pay with credit and debit cards, and sellers seamlessly receive ETN. Electroneum’s upcoming free TaskSchool platform offers people online courses to learn skills they can perform and sell with a smartphone or laptop.

The new technologies that Electroneum, M-Pesa, and others have developed could help millions break the cycle of poverty in Africa, a region where the overall number of people living in extreme poverty is increasing, according to a report.

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World Bank Senior Research Advisor Francisco Ferreira late last year said that 413 million in Sub-Saharan Africa live in extreme poverty. That represents half of the world’s total. He added that if the current economic trend in the region continues, by 2030, 25% of the population will continue to live in poverty. That means that nine out of ten poor people in the world will be living in Africa, he said.

The IMF agrees that greater digital inclusion and innovation has the potential to spur economic growth, which comes with new jobs.

In the same article, the GSMA said that by next year, there would be 725 million mobile phone subscribers, and that 70% of them would have adopted smartphones by 2025, which contributes to making the region ripe for unlocking its access to the global digital economy.

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About Electroneum

Having attracted nearly 4 million registered users in just under three years, award-winning Electroneum is making great strides toward becoming a top 10 crypto in usability as just over 1,900 merchants, and service providers in over 170 countries around the world accept ETN as payment. More than 2.6 million app downloads have taken place. Approximately 175,000 mobile top-ups and more than 296,000 app-to-app transfers have taken place with ETN by our Electroneum users. AnyTask is Electroneum's global freelance platform and has seen over 444,600 people register to the website as either buyers or sellers, with over 6,050 tasks listed. AnyTask does not charge freelancers any fees or commissions, and unlike all other leading freelance platforms that take up two weeks to get freelancers paid, it takes minutes to get paid after the buyer approves a task. Electroneum is one of the world's first fully KYC/AML compliant cryptocurrency. It is also one of the few blockchain networks that are insusceptible to a 51% attack. It is the greenest cryptocurrency in existence and the only one to have launched its very own affordable US$40 smartphone designed for the needs of people in developing regions. It is currently the only cryptocurrency that has a direct collaborative agreement with two mobile network operators. It is presently the only crypto that works with NGOs as their trusted blockchain transaction validators. And the only cryptocurrency to allow for an in-depth examination for publication, and verification for public knowledge. Check out ETN Everywhere and ETN Donate.