Cointelegraph goes to Senegal, West Africa. The mid-sized African nation recently hosted a Bitcoin (BTC) conference and more merchants and customers are joining the Lightning Network.
Armed with a camera, lightning wallet and microphone, journalist Joe Hall took to the streets of Senegal to peer below the surface of bitcoin adoption in the capital, Dakar.
As the Cointelegraph Youtube video points out, Senegal has a young, digitally native population and in recent years it has become second nature for people to send money via mobile phones rather than banks.
A mobile money provider called Wave, for example, started in 2017 in Senegal and has since expanded to other West African countries. It now has millions of users.
Much like Bitcoin, the mobile money revolution is trying to bank the unbanked and improve financial conditions for financially underserved populations. Its user experience is quite similar to sending money through Bitcoin’s Lightning Network, in that you scan a QR code or send money to a number, however, mobile money charges between 1 and 3 % and may take a few minutes to confirm. So it’s a useful tool, but too expensive for microtransactions.
In the video, Hall sends Bitcoin over the Lightning Network to a Wave official, who showed interest and surprise at the effectiveness of the Bitcoin Lightning Network. In fact, many Senegalese were interested in receiving, acquiring, or learning how to hold Bitcoin.
The Dakar Bitcoin Days conference highlighted the interest of Senegalese in the knowledge and use of Bitcoin. Founded by Nourou, Dakar Bitcoin Days is part of Bitcoin Sen, another pocket of nascent Bitcoin activity in West Africa.
However, the main reason that could lead to greater Bitcoin adoption in Senegal is to break the monetary shackles of its colonial past.
Related: “We Don’t Like Our Money”: The History of CFA and Bitcoin in Africa
In 1994, the value of the local currency, the CFA, was halved by a combination of efforts by France, the IMF, and the World Bank. Senegalese fiduciary savings have been decimated.
The scars of this monetary collapse and its residual regime remain in West Africa and Senegal. CFA money is not sovereign and it disempowers and deprives people of their rights.
This is why people are looking for alternatives, and some are turning to Bitcoin.