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Weekly Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup: Africa, 19 to 26 March 2018

Africa

Welcome to our weekly roundup of all important blockchain and cryptocurrency news from around the world. Follow the latest developments in the cryptocurrency space continent by continent, country by country.

African Union Meets in Rwanda – African Union leader Ramaphosa has proposed Africa’s own cryptocurrency following Venezuela’s state coin. At a recent African Union meeting in Rwanda, where delegations of 44 nations participated, the idea was floated to sign a deal to establish an African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and a new currency similar to Euro but only digital. There are initial discussions going on regarding the new currency but it is unlikely that a consensus can be achieved in the near future.

Uganda

Africa’s young crypto enthusiasts are flocking to embrace Bitcoin and are incentivizing other people to get into the blockchain space. This is especially the case in Uganda where tech-savvy Africans are using Bitcoin for trading and long-term investments.

Bitcoin is also a new source of income for many of these new entrants in the blockchain space as the centralized economy is creating problems. The attitude of Uganda’s central bank is not encouraging for local traders as they have been warned against investing in Bitcoin as it “is taking a risk in the financial space where there is neither investor protection nor regulatory purview.”.

Kenya, Nigeria and Namibia

Kenya and Nigeria have voiced similar concerns while Namibia has banned cryptocurrencies altogether. But, overall the African countries are diverse with some taking an anti-Bitcoin stance while other more liberal economies looking to open new possibilities with the right kind of guidance and regulations. In the words of blockchain analyst Stephen Kaboyo, “it is not wise to dismiss cryptocurrencies at this stage”. Crypto enthusiasts are overall unfazed by the volatility of the market.

South Africa

Scam – In South Africa, a USD 50 million cryptocurrency scam was unearthed. A company named BTCGlobal was implicated in it and tens of thousands of African investors lost their investment, either fully or partly.

South Africans rode the cryptocurrency wave in the tens of thousands and many of them invested in BTCGlobal but it was uncovered to be a scam when CEO Steven Twain disappeared and site stopped payouts. Its guaranteed 14% weekly returns was a definite sign of scam but did not raise alarms for newcomers from the country.

CryptoKitties, that cute little game run entirely on the Ethereum blockchain, was received popularly by South Africans.

Hardware – Graphics card shortages in South Africa still abound as crypto miners are buying all the high-end GPUs, creating a demand and supply gap. NiceHash is one of the services that provided these GPUs to the public. Six card rigs are around 50,000 South African Rands (ZAR) – approximately USD 4,300 – mark right now and the goal was to buy as much hardware as they can. Some local businessmen even bought more than eight of these totalling  ZAR 300,000 (USD 26,000) . Such costly investments are not advisable, especially when possessing little or no understanding of cryptocurrencies.

Egypt

A report by the University of Toronto purports that the Egyptian government is secretly mining cryptocurrencies on its citizens’ computers. This follows a series of apparent moves by the incumbent Egyptian government to hijack computing resources and to “put them into good use”. According to the researchers, “this type of intrusion by a nation-state” is “the stuff of legends”.

A scheme called Adhose is being held responsible for the mining malware. The research found a staggering number of computers affected by Adhose in the African country. The infrastructure that is being used to enable this illegal mining effort also doubles up as a censorship tool.

The Egyptian government is in full crackdown mood against its citizens following the disruption of its electoral process. It blocks access to new sites like Aljazeera and NGOs like Human Rights Watch.

 

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