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Bitcoin in Botswana

by: Tristan Winters

Bitcoin in Botswana

Africa is often touted as the region most likely to benefit from Bitcoin. However, for the most part, the technology has yet to take off in any meaningful way.

A recent survey by mobile platform Jana interviewed 1,800 people across 9 emerging markets. This included respondents from Africa’s leading market, South Africa. Of the survey group, only 13% had heard of Bitcoin. This represented the lowest awareness of any emerging market.

At present the continent has two full service exchanges, both in South Africa. One of these exchanges has made its services available to Rand holders in Botswana. iceCUBED now offers a full service exchange in Rand for Botswana users.

This has been the first order of business for Alakanani Itiriling since joining the iceCUBED team. After spending so much time evangelising, Alakanani expressed a strong desire to have trading available for her local market.

“As many people become aware of the opportunity of borderless trading we are surely going to see growth in the number of people using bitcoin and hence a place for them to buy and sell their bitcoin is needed. We also have an ATM being donated to us and all this means a lot to Botswana.”

Alakanani first came to the world’s attention when this article was published in VICE Magazine.

Alakanani is Botswana’s key Bitcoin evangelist and organiser of many local meetup groups. She is known globally for her fervent support of the technology in Africa. Alakanani believes strongly in Bitcoin’s potential to revolutionise all aspects of life in her native Botswana, across the African continent and the world.

Alakanani is a university graduate currently studying a Masters Degree in business administration. She organised Botswana’s first Bitcoin meetup in October 2013. Since then the events have flourished.

In her new role as chief evangelist for iceCUBED, Alakanani is most concerned with building a positive image for Bitcoin in Botswana. To that end she has joined forces with the SOS children’s village.

SOS Children’s village has been operational for over 30 years in Botswana. In partnership with the United States Department of Labor, they are caring for 1,100 children exposed to exploitative child labour. This programme provides uniforms for the children. Staff also organise placement in schools and other support in the holidays.

Alakanani notes that:

“The SOS program for me means a lot […] It means being part of the country’s vision of being a compassionate and caring nation. I care and bitcoin offers me the opportunity to do that and raise funds without borders.This is also to show that we in the bitcoin community are not greedy or thieves as people tend to think. Let the good outshine the bad and I am trying to do just that.”

The program will form part of iceCUBED’s charity program ‘Resources’, launched earlier this year.

The company aims to provide the necessary resources and support for Alakanani, as she continues her good work educating people on this technology in Botswana and throughout Africa. The company has a full support team on hand to help new users in Botswana.

While the market in Botswana is small, the level of entrepreneurial activity is high. Merchant adoption and awareness is growing. This is largely due to Alakanani’s efforts.

(disclaimer: the writer has some involvement with iceCUBED and Bitcoin Botswana).

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