Decentralized technologies like Bitcoin and emergency response app Cell 411 could help with South Africa’s economy and high crime rates.

South Africa’s government has let its citizens down, overseeing both a disappointing economy and a frightening crime rate. Thankfully, the people still have recourse in decentralized technology. With Bitcoin in one metaphorical hand and Cell 411 in the other, the average South African can hope for a brighter future, government incompetence be damned.

Bitcoin’s potential to alleviate economic woes

South Africa’s economy is in trouble. Sluggish economic growth compounded with a drought, spells ill for a nation that has traditionally been one of the continent’s most prosperous. These issues are particularly well illustrated by currency troubles, prompted by government failings. Faced with corruption surrounding the untimely departure of the finance minister, the county’s currency, the rand, fell over 6% almost instantly.

"President Jacob Zuma has become a one-man wrecking ball who will stop at nothing in order to survive, including wrecking the economy and wrecking South Africa," David Maynier, the Democratic Alliance's (DA) shadow minister of finance, told parliament during the nationally televised debate. In February, the country announced an austere budget aimed at avoiding credit rating downgrades, but investors were not convinced and analysts said a recession is still likely to affect the country.

Thankfully, South Africa’s citizens don’t necessarily have to live with the consequences of their government’s folly. By employing Bitcoin instead, they can ditch the rand for a currency that has, for well over a year at any rate, surmounted numerous obstacles to exhibit an incredible growth in price. South Africans seem to be catching on to this, with Bidorbuy, Africa’s largest online retailer, not only accepting Bitcoin as a payment option for its thousands of sellers, but actively encouraging its use. Since approximately 20% of the over 7,000 sellers active on Bidorbuy use it as their primary source of income, this could mean a significant blow to dependence on the rand.

Cell 411 as a solution to high crime rates

Next, South Africa has a tragic modern legacy of violence, with sky-high murder and street violence rates. The murder rate has jumped 4.6% in the past year, with almost 49 people killed every day. More than 50,000 sexual offences were reported to South African police last year. Armed robberies, carjackings and burglaries also increased.

Gareth Newham, of the Institute for Security Studies thinktank, says to the Guardian:

“That robberies have increased raises questions about the extent to which police resources are being effectively used. With some of the best technology in the world, and more than 194,000 personnel, the South African police service should be better able to reduce crimes such as robbery.”

 Gareth Newham, Institute for Security Studies

Enter Cell 411, a decentralized security and emergency response app developed in the United States by Romanian immigrant Virgil Vǎduva. Created under the idea of building a defense network in absence of (or sometimes in direction opposition to) law enforcement, Cell 411 has seen thousands of downloads in South Africa by citizens eager to build their own form of community and individual defense in a dangerous country.

South Africans are afraid and most avoid open spaces, such as parks and public transport. Many crimes are not reported because people believe the police will not do anything about certain offenses. Since Cell 411 has recently acquired a substantial angel investment, all in cryptocurrency, its features and effectiveness will only grow stronger, providing more options to South Africans struggling to survive in their increasingly violent environment.