#EndSARS Protest: Bitcoin poses as an inevitable path to Africa’s financial freedom

Following the launch of Bitcoin in 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto, the founder of Bitcoin, wrote: “Cryptocurrencies could provide significant benefit by overcoming the lack of trust and increasing access to financial services.”  

Whilst this statement has largely proved to be true, cryptocurrencies are doing more for the world, beyond providing financial services. 

Over the years, cryptocurrencies have paved the way for young Africans to make an honest living. Trading bitcoin has been on the rise in Africa, and as at August of this year, a week’s trade volume in Sub-saharan Africa, peaked at $18.3 million, coming after North America which recorded over $28 million. A closer look at the statistics, further reveals Nigeria as the lead country with respect to trade volumes within the sub-region. 

According to CoinMarketCap, in Q1 of 2020, crypto saw a jump in youth usage. Africa came in second with 91.47% growth, in terms of youth usage. The growth is owed largely to Nigeria’s 210% growth in the number of young crypto users. With such a large percentage of the young population in Nigeria turning to crypto, it is safe to say it is a lucrative source of income and by extension, it has offered a viable alternative to a large number of youths who have been affected by the unemployment scourge in the country. 

Sustaining a living with bitcoin

Not only are young Nigerians earning a living with Bitcoin, the asset has also been helping them keep their hard earned money out of the prying eyes and hands of the government. As a result of the fact that bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies (altcoins) are built on an independent blockchain that cannot be controlled by any individual or entity, these assets are beyond the control of influence of the government. 

In a way, this is what youths in Nigeria are protesting against— putting a halt to the status quo where their lives and sources of livelihood are being taken away from them by law enforcement officers. 

Sustaining #ENDSARS with bitcoin

From feeding a traffic warden, to becoming a source of daily meals for many, the ENDSARS protest in Nigeria, is a protest that will definitely go down in the history books. 

The protesters, largely made up of the Nigerian youths, are currently calling for an end to police brutality in the country, and have been protesting fiercely for days. These youths have filled up major streets across the country, persistently outlining their demands, and repeating the names of the Nigerians who have lost their lives as a result of police brutality— a menace that has eaten deep into the system. 

However, these youths have met some resistance in their bid to ensure that their demands are met. There have been reports, including video evidence, of members of the Nigerian Police Force shooting and harassing peaceful protesters. 

One of the confirmed deaths during the protest is that of Jimoh Isiaka. Isiaka was allegedly shot dead by a police officer, during a protest in Ogbomoso, a town in Oyo state, Nigeria. Yet, the use of brute force is not the only form of resistance which has been mounted against the protesters. 

An indirect attack on the protest funding was allegedly launched days ago, by the government. A series of tweets have pointed to the fact that the government of Nigeria is allegedly trying to stop funding that will assist the continuation of protests. Most of them read that the Central Bank of Nigeria was putting restrictions on Flutterwave for being the platform for protest donations. 

Feminist Coalition, an organisation formed in July of this year, has been at the forefront of raising funds for protests. These funds have gone into providing medical care for victims, as well as food, face masks, and other essentials. 

The turn to bitcoin

Flutterwave’s alleged clampdown by the Central Bank, in a bid to halt the funding of one of the largest protests ever organised in the Nigeria, proved abortive, as the Feminist Coalition turned to cryptocurrency. 

A Bitcoin address was created for donations, and according to reports, donations to the tune of 1 million naira worth of Bitcoin, was realised within a few hours. A report on Coindesk also revealed that some members of the Feminist Coalition are tech workers and as such, the move to Bitcoin was imminent and largely inevitable. 

Beyond money

The clamour for Africa to embrace cryptocurrency has often been centred around financial inclusion and the need to make financial services accessible to every African. Over the past decade, several experts predicted that the rise in the adoption of cryptocurrencies would help Africa, but no one ever saw cryptocurrency as the saviour that would help youths in their fight for a worthy cause. 

The ENDSARS protest further amplifies the shortcomings of the traditional financial system. It qualifies as another reason why cryptocurrencies should go mainstream in Africa. Financial freedom will not only give people control of their finances, it will make groups like the Feminst Coalition raise funds to protest the brutal killings of young Nigerians. 

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