Exploring the landscape of crypto regulations in sub-Saharan Africa

Despite facing hot-and-cold rules, growing crypto usage in sub-Saharan Africa is forcing regulators to reconsider the industry.
Sub-Saharan Africa has no doubt suffered many regulatory setbacks in adopting cryptocurrencies. With most countries in the region struggling not to buckle under economic uncertainties and pressures looming over them even as the ripple effects of COVID-19 set in, it would appear that many Africans, especially millennials, aren’t waiting for the government anymore.The main issue inhibiting regulation seems to be a combination of resistance and indecision both from regulators, which has majorly been a result of little or no understanding of cryptocurrencies. Speaking to Cointelegraph on the attitude of regulatory bodies in Africa toward cryptocurrencies, Andrew Nevin, partner and chief economist at PricewaterhouseCoopers Nigeria, said:“I think it’s fair to say that around the continent, people are being cautious. There’s been a lot of problems with cryptocurrency and various kinds of fraud: initial coin offerings and projects that didn’t have sufficient value and have gone backwards or folded up. So, I think that the authorities are taking the right view in taking this step by step.”For the most part, governments of most sub-Saharan countries have not taken any clear stance toward cryptocurrencies.The waiting gameMany African governments pretty much don’t know what to do about cryptocurrencies, although recently, there has been some progress. For example, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Nigeria has officially defined digital assets under its regulatory umbrella in a recent statement. Before, the Nigerian Central Bank had flip-flopped, going from warning its citizens against doing business in digital currencies to launching research on potential policy proposals. In Kenya, authorities have gone from comparing cryptocurrencies to pyramid schemes to setting up a task force to study the challenges and benefits associated with the underlying blockchain technology.Over the years, the legality of Bitcoin (BTC) and other crypto assets has varied significantly across the region, with over 60% of African governments yet to make their position known.Blockchain and cryptocurrency in Africa — Geographical overviewSource: Baker McKenzieWhile some nations have openly declared their support for cryptocurrencies, most countries have either issued complete or partial bans. The most common position, however, is one of caution. Countries such as Kenya, Ghana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe have warned its citizens about cryptocurrencies without actively banning crypto trading or use. Other countries such as Namibia and Burundi, while also not banning usage, have issued bans against trading, citing lack of consumer protection.Similar to what we see in Kenya, a statement from the Ugandan government referred to “One Coin Digital Money,” as a cryptocurrency alongside Bitcoin, Litecoin (LTC) and XRP, among others, putting them all on equal footing as cryptocurrencies. OneCoin was a notorious multilevel marketing scheme that allowed “representatives” to earn incentives from selling memberships for an enterprise with no genuine product.Taking a critical look at these countries, we could infer that Ponzi schemes have tainted the reputation of legitimate crypto projects and may be slowing things down. Paxful CEO Ray Youssef spoke with Cointelegraph on

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