Zimbabwe is plagued with many problems ranging from socio-economic to technology. However, probably, the biggest challenge we are confronted with is the future. As the whole world embraces and gears up for the digital revolution,many times we have almost always been at the back-end. Unless this changes,Zimbabwe will continue to play the catch-up game in relation to its developed counterparts.
Melissa Messe Mwale, a Zimbabwean born co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of CryptoGem, a cryptocurrency exchange spoke on how blockchain technology has the power to transform many lives.
“I have always been fascinated about the concept of technology transforming people’s lives, how it brings about prosperity, and how technology makes life easier for people in Africa, who may have limited access to a lot of things. So in relation to my own business, for instance, if you have access to technology, you have a global presence. You’re no longer limited to selling locally. The internet opens the door to millions of people and a lot of potential new customers. For me anyway, I believe that technology can transform the lives of many people.”
“Blockchain, in particular, can bring about shared prosperity. That has always been my drive, how to bring about equal opportunities in society. When you look at blockchain, I think it’s a great thing, especially for Africa. My passion really is Africa.” she said.
Melissa is one of thousands of Zimbabweans who are working towards creating solutions that benefit the people in a country that has received so much negative publicity.
“My main driver has always been to put Zimbabwe, and Africa in general, on the global market, to reach a global scale. So for instance, if someone is making a really nice handbag here, I’d like that person to be able to sell it anywhere. I recently visited Paris to attend a tech conference and realized that the African Queen dresses we make are sold here for about $20, whereas in Europe, they would sell for 100 euros. So there’s a lot of potential for financial gain there. The problem is, nobody knows about local designers from Zimbabwe, that’s why I think technology can bridge that gap.” added Melissa.
Terms such as cryptocurrency and bitcoin have become common in the past few years.The former is a digital currency built with cryptographic protocols that make transactions secure and difficult to forge.Transactions for transfers are simplified through use of public and private keys for security and privacy purposes. These transfers can be done with minimal processing fees, allowing users to avoid the steep fees charged by traditional financial institutions.
The most striking feature of a cryptocurrency is that it is not controlled by any central authority and theoretically immune to the old ways of government control and interference.
On bitcoins,it is a digital currency and are the best known cryptocurrency that offers the promise of lower transaction fees than traditional online payment mechanisms and is operated by a decentralized authority, unlike government-issued currencies.
Since it is a virtual currency,only balances are kept on a public ledger along with all Bitcoin transactions which are verified by a massive amount of computing power. Bitcoins are not issued or backed by any banks or governmentst therefore they are not legal tender
For cryptocurrecies such as bitcoin to be used properly the they are enabled by blockchain technology.
Blockchain technology has emerged as a vital innovation that the country needs to tap into and leapfrog the early developments of the digital age.This new technology has been described as an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.
This technology is making wholesome changes to how business is done as the exchange of goods and services is now easier. Not so long ago , it was difficult for two parties to make an exchange without the oversight or intermediation of a third party.
Banks for instance have a documented history ripping people off with outrageous bank charges, making it difficult to carry out transactions without incurring massive charges.But these third party intermediaries and overhead costs for exchanging assets are drastically reduced by using blockchain solutions as third parties are being removed and driving down cost for the average person.
Zimbabwe has faced economic challenges since the turn of the millennium and thousands have crossed the borders in search of greener pastures.Cross border transactions have become the norm and mostly expensive . If someone is to receive a particular amount of money from the South Africa or the United Kingdom, they would incur some extra charges. But blockchain transactions have lessened remittance problems and it is only a matter of time before banks start supporting these cryptocurrencies.
Few countries have seen harder times economically, fiscally, and monetarily than Zimbabwe and it has become a good haven for blockchain technology proponents who are likely to have an easy time explaining advantages of such an innovation to Zimbabweans.
For a country riddled in cash crisis,Zimbabwe is positioned to benefit from the blockchain technology colossal demand of digital currencies that is gaining momentum in most African countries at this particular time. However for most people, the issue of cryptocurrencies and bitcoins is primarily backed by nothing but sentiment and for them it is reasonable to believe that the digital currency bubble may eventually burst.
Other African countries are taking great strides in adopting blockchain technology. Kenya recently announced its Blockchain Taskforce in Kenya which has been cited as a step in the right direction in the right direction towards adoption and implementation of this technology. Kenya is one of the African countries taking the blockchain technology seriously and consequently, it stands to benefit most from adoption.
Lack of regulation remains a stumbling block for blockchain technology to be adopted and implemented and it remains a double-edged sword.There may be gains from time to time, but any precipitous crash in price could leave investors with no escape route.