The mysterious computer scientist behind crypto-currency and Bitcoins is attending a continental tech summit in Rwanda. The buzz around him on social media as he spoke on several platforms has been as equally controversial as inspiring.
The four day Transform Africa 2018 summit that opened Monday brings together the smartest minds in technology, business and politics to find ways of how the three can be combined to boost the continent’s fortunes.
Speakers, including host President Paul Kagame, have pointed out that Africa needs a tech-led “fourth industrial revolution”.
Kagame affirmed in his two speeches on Monday and Tuesday that Africa is not looking for donations, but wants a win-win partnership.
Experts agree that the main key enablers of investment are Infrastructure, content and applications as well as capacity building and education. Estimates point to a $300 billion investment goal.
On Wednesday morning, Australian virtual currency founder who is said to be operating as Satoshi Sakamoto took to the podium in the session: ” A Single Cryptocurrency for Africa?”.
His PowerPoint presentation was titled – ‘Bitcoin Cash: The Crypotocurrency and Blockchain for Africa’. In his usual trademark style, Wright made statements that will stand out from the summit.
“I don’t care. I’ve got more money than your country,” is how he put it to emphasize that he did not need any national currency to operate. “I dont need your money!”
The idea of the African currency has been around right from the time the idea of ‘united Africa’ was mooted. Decades later, as the continent’s recently adopted free trade area takes shape, and free movement of people meet with blockchain technology, policy makers are coming onboard with innovators who are pushing for a ‘single African crypto-currency’.
The Chief Scientist at nChain – a blockchain technology development firm, also told the audience that a “single world currency” is what has to be set up now, “not just an Africa currency”.
“We need to allow people across the globe to freely transact through blockchain technology,” said Wright.
“We want to enable people to trade, one to one, individual to individual, that’s where the world changes.”
But as has been said in various sessions at the Kigali tech summit, a lot remains to be done. Should the technology be opened up? What are the challenges and how can they be tackled?
Dr Craig Wright wants the politicians to let the scientists and investors do their work, and the rest will follow.
“Bitcoin can turn Africa into a smart digital economy,” he said yesterday at another session, and today added: “I want a competitive Africa. People don’t want to be equal, because the lowest equal is a common denominator. The lowest equal is poor.”
When reminded that Africa was still faced with the challenge of low broadband connectivity, Wright says the fact that phone network was spread across the remotest villages, cryptocurrency will work perfectly.
“You Don’t need internet to transfer Bitcoin, you can use sms,” he said.
Meanwhile, apart from the various side events and the tech exhibition, there was also the annual competition where 200 girls from across Africa showcased their innovations in what is called “Miss Geek Africa”. The winners get money and backing to implement their idea into a start-ups.
Also, there is a separate forum called “Face The Gorillas” where tech start-ups pitch to cash-wielding investors eager to spend on new ventures. Tens of thousands of dollars are up for grabs.