Bitcoin

With the rest of the world focused on the coming new year, Ghanaians had some additional news to celebrate. A cryptocurrency marketplace released a new report pegging Ghana and Nigeria among the industry’s largest global markets. There’s little wonder why. With global upheaval, millennials are turning to cryptocurrencies as an alternative to traditional financial instruments — an alternative which can offer easier access to global markets.

While the industry has seen significant turmoil over the past year, many see cryptocurrencies as a way to hedge against national monetary concerns, including inflation. As Ghana’s extreme poverty levels have declined by more than 2/3 over the past two decades, per capita income has soared by 80+%. The IMF expects 7% growth over the medium-term, and inflation is now under 10%. That growth, however, is enhanced by oil and gas production, an industry which is in flux.

In a speech last month, Christina Lagarde called for the planting of new economic seeds to ensure future prosperity in Ghana. The country can be proud of its institutions of higher learning and its startup culture. In particular, the MEST Incubator offers globally-recognized training and mentorship, along with seed investment, that will encourage and promote a budding generation of innovators and software entrepreneurs. That technical knowledge and skill set is critical for a country looking to engage private sector investment.

It is no secret that Google chose Accra to house its first AI research center in Africa. Ghanaian attitudes about technology create a culture which invites investment and excitement. And culture is important when assessing technological investment. Of course, the country faces real and significant challenges moving forward. But, as Ghana is in the news as a nation of early adopters in the cryptocurrency space, perhaps it is time to reflect on Lagarde’s call for new economic seeds. Technology is the great equalizer. Excellence in innovation and an ability to solve real-world problems are paramount to succeed in tomorrow’s economy.

With a vibrant young population and free secondary education, Ghana is primed to produce a generation of new technologists. Coding is a real-world skill that can offer a pathway to lifelong employment. Learning such skills early on will allow a new generation of Ghanaians to gain a foothold in an industry which is only destined to grow. And an interest in cryptocurrency will open doors to the blockchain economy. The question is not whether blockchain technology is a disruptive innovation. The question is how many industries will blockchain technologies completely transform. With smart public policy and wise public-private partnerships, Ghana can ride the wave into its future.

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