Bitcoin (BTC) adoption in West Africa is dominated by Nigeria, the crypto powerhouse and the region’s economic engine. But against a backdrop of anti-French sentiment, Bitcoin educational efforts are also bubbling away in French-speaking West Africa.
Senegal recently opened its first physical Bitcoin exchange and education center called Bitique, and the country of 17 million people will host another Bitcoin Forum in the capital, Dakar, in December, where pseudonymous local Bitcoin advocate, known as Nourou, runs an independent Bitcoin node beamed from space.
In Benin, a country of 13 million people to the west of Nigeria, the Bitcoin-only Bitcoin Mastermind conference takes place next month. The first of its kind in the country, Bitcoin Mastermind unites Bitcoin entrepreneurs and crypto enthusiasts from homegrown groups and businesses such as Izichange, GoesPay and Flash, and it offers locals a space to learn about Bitcoin.
Cointelegraph spoke with Nourou, the founder of Dakar Bitcoin Days and Bitcoin Senegal, and Loïc Kassamoto, the founder of Bitcoin Mastermind, to better understand the Bitcoin and West African crypto evolution — or revolution.
A rising tide lifts all boats
Countries in French-speaking West Africa are subjected to the West African CFA franc currency, described by the Economist as a “colonial hangover.” The Senegalese are vocal in their criticism of the currency, with some Bitcoin advocates, such as local crypto enthusiast and entrepreneur Mama Bitcoin, explaining that it’s pretty normal to complain about the currency — an implicit criticism of post-colonial French policy in the region.
Anti-French sentiment has historically existed in the region but has recently manifested in public demonstrations. Neighboring Mali recently dropped French as the nation’s official language — a law in place since the country won its independence in 1960.
In Niger, to the east of Mali and north of Nigeria, a recent military coup represented a significant setback for French President Emmanuel Macron and France’s military strategy in the region. Well-known French newspaper Le Monde commented that the coup was a “new heavy blow” for France’s military strategy in Niger’s Sahel region.
A groundswell of alternative currency initiatives is occurring across French-speaking West Africa. Growing numbers of Senegalese are turning to Bitcoin as a savings tool and a means of exchange,…