As anti-French sentiment escalates in West Africa, the region is experiencing a notable surge in Bitcoin adoption and education. While Nigeria remains a crypto powerhouse in the region, French-speaking West African countries are also making significant strides in embracing the cryptocurrency.
Senegal, for instance, recently inaugurated its first physical Bitcoin exchange and education center, Bitique. The country is set to host the Bitcoin Forum in December, fostering education and discussion around Bitcoin. Similarly, neighboring Benin is preparing for its inaugural Bitcoin Mastermind conference, aiming to unite Bitcoin entrepreneurs and enthusiasts from local groups and businesses.
Bitcoin’s appeal in these French-speaking countries is attributed to the dissatisfaction with the West African CFA franc, considered by many as a lingering colonial legacy. Amid anti-French sentiment, locals are increasingly turning to Bitcoin as a means of savings and exchange.
Despite the global trend of virtual financial education, West Africa emphasizes physical meetups and real-life interactions. The COVID-19 pandemic initially shifted discussions online, but as restrictions ease, more physical spaces are opening up for Bitcoin education and interaction.
Bitcoin conferences, meetups, and shops are emerging as crucial platforms for fostering education and direct engagement. Bitique, Dakar’s first physical Bitcoin store, offers not only trading services but also educational programs to help people learn about Bitcoin in person.
Notably, Bitcoin is also being introduced to children through programs like the “Baol Digital Kids,” teaching them to use Bitcoin and the Lightning Network. This practical education has enabled children to spend their first satoshis at various merchants.
Despite intermittent internet connectivity in the region, Bitcoin advocates are taking innovative steps to ensure network continuity. Nourou, the founder of Dakar Bitcoin Days and Bitcoin Senegal, has received a Blockstream Satellite kit to establish a Bitcoin node, enhancing the network’s reliability.
These initiatives across West African countries reflect the growing interest in Bitcoin as a financial tool and highlight the significance of in-person education in facilitating its adoption and use.