As the annual Africa Tech Summit came to an end in London, there was a significant amount of positive comments coming from the speakers regarding the potential of blockchain technology in Africa.
This year, the Africa Tech Summit London brought together over 300 attendees, comprising of tech entrepreneurs, investors, corporates and other key stakeholders. The summit featured discussions focused on driving investment and business forward as well as a host of pitching sessions.
It kicked off with attendees opening trading at the London Stock Exchange. Currently, more than 100 African companies are listed on the London Stock Exchange with an aggregate market cap of $203 billion.
Africa Tech Summit Blockchain Debate
In a blockchain-focused panel themed “Blockchain and Crypto for Africa,” there was a general enthusiasm about the possibility of using blockchain as a tool to provide freedom and access to financial services. Edward George, CNO of Kleos, argued that Bitcoin was invented to allow people to transact without the need for banks and regulations.
However, Ted Lin of Binance pointed out the scalability challenges of Bitcoin, stating that Bitcoin is not well-suited to fast-transactions. Bitcoin’s current throughput is somewhere between 3.3 and 7 transactions per second (TPS). By comparison, VisaNet financial network currently scales at 1,700 TPS on average while Ethereum processing capacity can handle between 10 and 30 TPS.
Poor Understanding of Blockchain
Meanwhile, Elizabeth Rossiello, CEO of BitPesa, said that blockchain provides financial inclusion by giving people the ability to access services they cannot currently get in their own countries. Rossiello, however, noted that access to financial opportunities such as FX trading is hindered by a poor understanding of the blockchain technology by local governments. To illustrate her point, she highlighted a regulation in Tanzania that requires the use of local servers – defeating the spirit of decentralization. Additionally, there are several jurisdictions that have banned, or considered banning cryptocurrency.
Lin echoed Rossiello’s comments noting that “a lot of regulators are trying to find their footing about how strict to be”.
Rossiello also rejected concerns over cryptocurrency risks, arguing that even traditional currencies, which have traded throughout history, have presented similar risks.
“Stop vilifying cryptocurrency for volatility. The more liquidity, the less volatility,” she said.
Microsoft Not Involved in Blockchain
Bunmi Durowoju, head of business development at Microsoft, said that the tech giant is not currently not working on any blockchain initiative, but it is evaluating the business and socioeconomic outcomes of the technology. In particular, Microsoft is looking at blockchain’s impact on supply chain platforms, especially in reducing transaction and delivery times as well as offering traceability and transparency.
She added that these benefits could be extended to land registry, where transparency is particularly valuable.
The Africa Tech Summit London is part of the same series as the flagship Africa Tech Summit Kigali, which is returning to Rwanda in February next year.