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South Africa has become a blockchain hub lately and this is no longer a secret. The country’s economic advantage, the strong blockchain community, and the growing popularity of hubs and aggregators purposefully built to cater to blockchain startups have all contributed to this narrative.
On top of that, South Africa has taken further steps to ingrain itself as a potential blockchain and cryptocurrency powerhouse with the formation of a national blockchain strategy. The South African National Blockchain Alliance, to be launched in April 2020, aims to develop opportunities in the blockchain industry and to enable collaboration with other sectors.
Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana may appear to have taken blockchain adoption in a big way but a closer look reveals that South Africa is an early leader in the space.
Thriving hub for blockchain startups
When it comes to major blockchain startups in Africa, South Africa is clearly the leader. Out of the top ten blockchain-driven companies in Africa, four are from South Africa. By comparison, Kenya, Ivory Coast, and Ghana have each a single company in the top ten list while Nigeria has three. Some of the South African blockchain companies include TariLabs, Bankymoon, Sun Exchange and Custos Media Technologies.
Many of these startups are capitalising the booming blockchain ecosystem in the country. For instance, South Africa boasts an energetic tech scene with hubs and aggregators springing up to specifically to support blockchain startups.
There is also a strong blockchain community, particularly in the capital Johannesburg, which has given rise to more community working groups, events and research. All around the country, innovative spaces are popping up to cater to budding entrepreneurs and blockchain startups.
Further, many established companies in South Africa are embracing blockchain technology to improve business operations.
The South African Reserve Bank (SARB), for example, has issued a number of recent determinations regarding the use of cryptocurrency in the country. It is also currently running Project Khokha to explore the use of distributed ledger technologies in interbank settlements.
Growing participation of women
South Africa has also seen increased participation of women in the blockchain industry, despite women’s contribution getting insufficient recognition.
According to Paxful’s inaugural list of top African women to watch in the blockchain and bitcoin industries, four of the 10 women featured in the list are from South Africa.
These include Monica Singer (ConsenSys SA), Sonya Kuhnel (Blockchain Academy, Bitcoin Events, Xago), Naomi Synman (Standard Bank Group, South African Financial Blockchain Consortium) and Yaliwe Soko (United Africa Blockchain Association).
Paxful’s list also features two women from Nigeria, and one each from Kenya, Botswana, Zambia and Tunisia.
Ray Youssef, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Paxful commented:
“Personally, I think women are better at tech. Women add a new dimension to innovation, they’re better collaborators, community builders and in many ways better problem solvers. And as such are absolutely critical to the future of the blockchain and bitcoin ecosystem.”
The increased participation of women in the development of blockchain is a clear indicator that South Africa’s blockchain industry is embracing diversity in the sector.
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