The future of the African economy is closely connected to digital money. The potential and opportunities of using cryptocurrencies on the continent will be the focus of a special event, organized by ON21 in partnership with the Global Entrepreneurship Center, where thought leaders in entrepreneurship, finance, and nascent digital currency systems will gather in New York City on February 4.

Spotlight: Africa

Africa has been undergoing rapid economic change in the past few years. One of the most notable examples of this is how people communicate and share information. Mobile technology has allowed much of the continent to leapfrog building costly telephony infrastructure. 

Meanwhile, Bill Gates recently stated in an interview with Jimmy Fallon that the future of increased financial liquidity in Africa for the everyday user lies in mobile payments, not in the expansion of the traditional financial framework.

Add that to the fact that seven of the world’s fastest growing economies are in Africa, and the potential becomes clear. This potential is highlighted by a recent Goldman Sachs-issued report titled Africa’s Turn, which draws similarities between the current business opportunities in Africa with those in China in the early 90’s.

“Africa's lack of infrastructure both technologically and financially have conspired in the past to keep it down,” explained the event moderator, Rik Willard, to CoinTelegrah. “Those very things now combine to provide a platform for the most profound and impactful economic inclusion since China came on the financial stage in the 1990s.” He added:

“There is virtually no technological legacy system in place to constrain an entire continent.”

The era of big data and digital value is starting to emerge as mass mobile connectivity is facilitating new capital flows. Digital currencies are promoting the growth of borderless, peer-to-peer networks, allowing many of the poorest Africans to take control of their own data and ultimately be their own banks, lenders and entrepreneurs.

The economic benefits of this trend may usher in yet another important technological ‘leapfrog’ moment on a massive scale. As Africa is planning to hold its first ever cryptocurrency conference this year, digital transactions and virtual currencies could soon become the standard in many African countries, utilizing mobile devices like phones and perhaps even wearable technologies, such as “digital bangles”.

Bitcoin Africa Conference logo

Willard concluded:

"The revolution in Africa is mobile - we think we may know what that means but in truth it's a throwback to nomadic times. The combination of powerful and digitized societal, scientific and financial tools makes me believe that what happens now in Africa will be new to the world and, once again, set the precedent for how humans evolve moving forward. Africa is the litmus test for how much we can and want to achieve... and for what societal scale and global inclusion really means."


ON21 will focus on such important questions as:

  • What social, regulatory and technical hurdles will be faced before digital currencies become a reality in Africa? 
  • Could new, highly localized economic models with digital currencies, indexed to commodities, work off a base currency that empowers a new Pan-African economy by the mid-21st Century?
  • What are the breakthroughs needed to make this economic evolution happen, and who are the players that have put stakes in the ground? 

Additionally, Co-Authors and Wall street journal financial writers Michael J. Casey and Paul Vigna will be signing their new book, “The Age of Cryptocurrency,” at the post-panel reception.

When & Where

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015 at BNY Mellon, 101 Barclay Street, New York City

  • 5:30pm VIP reception
  • 6:00pm Panel/Q&A
  • 8:00pm General Post-Reception

The event will be moderated by the CEO of MintCombine, Rik Willard and the speakers will include:

  • Matthew Mellon (Chamber of Digital Commerce)
  • Elisabeth Rosiello (BitPesa)
  • Emmanuel Abiodun (PeerNova)
  • Michael Casey (The Wall Street Journal)
  • John Betts (Noble Markets)

For more information about the event, go here

We are also proud to announce that Cointelegraph readers will receive a 50% discount using the Code: onafrica2

We hope to see you there on Wednesday, February 4!

About ON21

ON21 conferences present challenging questions, futurity scenarios and practical information for industries that are experiencing "innovation crisis" and/or complete disruption. They examine the realities, perceptions and potentialities at the nexus of technology, entrepreneurship, finance, corporate innovation and impact. 

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About GCEC

Global Entrepreneurship Center, formerly the National Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers (NCEC), was founded in 1996. The intent of the organization is to provide a coordinated vehicle through which participating members can collaborate and communicate on the specific issues and challenges confronting university-based entrepreneurship centers.

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