In Africa, where the payments revolution has seen a huge amount of the world’s mobile money pass through Africa-based and led payments platforms, a race to capture the African crypto market has accompanied wider increased investment interest in cryptocurrencies.
Twitter’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, last year, announced he would be moving to Africa to explore the opportunities in crypto (though he changed his mind later).
The crypto-industry went from strength to strength in 2019. It has been professionalizing and the bitcoin price has been stabilizing, and much like the dotcom boom and crash, the products and services that offer real value to consumers and investors are proving to have staying power.
Africa is rarely mentioned among the largest markets for cryptocurrency, but it may be set to steal a march over other markets,” says Rakesh Sharma, a business and technology journalist.
[READ MORE: Cryptocurrency: Discern investors’ goldmine)
Sharma said that citizens of countries battling high inflation were likely to opt for cryptocurrency, because “with their paradigm of decentralization, cryptocurrencies offer an alternative to disastrous central bank policies.”
It is also becoming apparent in the geopolitical tumult of the US-China trade war and Brexit, and alongside government failures such as those in Venezuela and Zimbabwe, that crypto is an important hedge against political risk, in providing a means to diversify assets externally.
That African governments are not regulating cryptocurrency may be a factor spurring its growth on the continent. However, there is no guarantee that governments will not change their current mindset.
Rather than simply not wanting to, governments may be powerless to regulate cryptocurrency, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) indicated recently. Currently tackling the country’s 12.2% inflation rate, the CBN announced that it could not control or regulate Bitcoin, “just the same way no one is going to control or regulate the internet. We don’t own it.”
Fearing a collapse of the banking industry or arbitrary appropriation of money by the government, Africans without access to banks and who live in politically unstable countries could be attracted to cryptocurrencies.
Bitcoin transactions help to eliminate the procedural bottlenecks that plague traditional banking and financial services,
As one of the most outstanding fintech innovations of the decade, crypto technology holds enormous promise for allowing countries to restructure their economies and leapfrog the constraints of the global economy, although there is still a long way to go.
Recently, Rapper and entrepreneur, Akon said, “We have so many currencies in Africa. A lot of them are unstable, and most of them are untrusted. It got to the point where the day-to-day African people don’t even use the currencies any more, they’re using their cell phone minutes and credits as a way of trading for basic goods like produce, fish, fruits and things on the market.”
Africa should warmly embrace innovation. Truth be told, Africa needs blockchain technology and its resultant cryptocurrencies more than any part of the world.
Covid-19: African Union in talks with China and Russia over vaccine
The AU and Africa CDC have revealed that they have reached out to both China and Russia over the possibility of vaccine partnerships.
The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the African Union announced they have been in talks with China and Russia over the possibility of vaccine partnerships to ensure that Africa is not left behind when vaccines become available.
This was disclosed by John Nkengasong, Africa CDC Chief, at the Bloomberg Invest Africa online conference.
“We are not limiting ourselves to any particular partner. As a continent of 1.2 billion people, we are willing to work with any partner who adheres to our strategic plan for vaccine development and access in Africa.
He said that the WHO Covax programme only covers 20% of the population, but Africa will need 60% of its population vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.
“There are multiple avenues being explored now to make sure Africa has the appropriate doses of vaccines and also that we have that in a timely fashion, not in a delayed manner,” Nkengasong said.
He revealed that the AFREXIM Bank agreed to finance vaccine procurement with $5 billion and is waiting to see how much it will receive from World Bank’s $12 billion vaccine procurement fund for developing nations.
What you should know
Nairametrics reported earlier this month that Pfizer Inc. disclosed that its experimental vaccine, which is jointly developed with BioNTech, was more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19, based on initial data from a large study in the ongoing phase 3 trials.
Last week, a pharmaceutical company, Moderna Inc., stated that its COVID-19 vaccine was 94.5% effective in treating coronavirus, after preliminary analysis of a large late-stage clinical trial.
The G-20 nations also announced a pledge to pay for vaccine distribution to developing nations that could not afford it. The leaders also unveiled a debt extension programme to developing nations during the weekend’s G-20 summit.
The Federal Government of Nigeria also announced through the Ministry of Health, that it would inaugurate an 18-man Covid-19 Vaccine Task Team, in a bid to ensure vaccine security In Nigeria.
Covid-19: EU considers skipping vaccine patents to boost vaccine access
The EU has disclosed plans to increase its access to Covid-19 vaccines by offering financial incentives to vaccine production companies.
The European Union says its planning emergency measures to increase its access to Covid-19 vaccines including sidestepping patent rights and offering financial incentives to vaccine production companies to move production to Europe.
This was revealed in an EU document on Wednesday and reported by Reuters. The Document says the EU may create an emergency coordination mechanism to be issued at short notice when the EU needs a vaccine license, which is different from fully patent waivers, discussed in the WTO last week.
The EU says the new move will ensure faster procedures during a pandemic, which will enable generic production in the EU without the consent of patent holders.
“The Commission sees the need to ensure that effective systems for issuing compulsory licenses are in place, to be used as a means of last resort and a safety net, when all other efforts to make IP (intellectual property) available have failed,” the EU’s document said.
The EU’s actions may be triggered by its inability to access the antiviral drug, remdesivir, during the pandemic, as the United States ordered most of the stock.
The EU also disclosed that it will begin a consultation process with pharmaceutical companies next year to address issues in its pharmaceutical value chains. They added that measures could be imposed to encourage manufacturers to move pharmaceutical production to Europe from China and India.
“The Commission calls on member states to ensure that the tools they have are as effective as possible; for instance, by putting in place fast-track procedures for issuing compulsory licenses in emergency situations,” the EU said.
They added that it is urgent “to assess whether manufacturing capacity for certain critical medicines may be required in the EU.”
“We need to be able to rely on ourselves, not on others,” the Commission’s Vice President, Margaritis Schinas said. He disclosed that the EU is working on more compliance with drug supply need and increased stock levels by 2022.
What you should know
This comes as surprise considering the EU rejected a World Trade Organization (WTO) proposal last week to waive the intellectual property rights needed for the manufacturing of Covid-19 vaccines. The waiver would have made the vaccine access cheaper for developing nations.
#EndSARS Sanctions: Nigeria has reached out to the UK Government – Foreign Minister
Onyeama has stated that the FG has reached out to the UK Government over the parliamentary debate on the #EndSARS protests.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, said that the Nigerian Government has reached out to the UK Government over the parliamentary debate on the #EndSARS protests.
The Minister disclosed this to Newsmen at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting on Thursday, which was recorded by Channels TV.
He added that the UK Parliament did not speak for the UK government, and that the UK had heard the Nigerian government’s side regarding the incident at Lekki.
“On the issue of the UK parliament, yes, we have reached out to the UK government on this question. The meeting that took place was of Parliamentarians, they don’t speak for the UK government and the UK government which acts for the United Kingdom has also heard the side of the (Nigerian) government regarding everything that happened.
“So we are in touch with them and engaging with them. But, of course, as in any democracy, the Members of Parliament are able to also air their views, but what is important is that a balanced picture is made available to them all before they take any decision,” Onyeama said.
What you should know
Nairametrics reported earlier this week that the British Parliament had announced it would consider a petition by some groups and individuals, asking it to apply sanctions against the Nigerian government and officials for alleged human rights violations during the #EndSARS protest and Lekki shooting incident.
Also, the presidency earlier disclosed that the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, had a meeting with the UK Special Envoy for Humanitarian Affairs, Nick Dyer, accompanied by the UK High Commissioner to Nigeria.