Blockchain technology penetration in the Republic of Sudan is rising at an exciting rate despite the political turbulence and lack of openness that engulfed the country.
In an interview with QT, Mohamed Osman Elawad, Co-founder of Sudan Blockchain Community, remarked that the technology is especially popular among young developers. He, however, indicated that the focus is mainly on Bitcoin/Crypto.
There were some mining activities as well before it became unprofitable,” Elawad said. “This was due to the hi-tech development of mining devices with high prices which made them unaffordable for most of the miners.”
Use of Cryptocurrencies
According to Elawad, the ban on foreign exchange in the Middle East North African (MENA) country has spurred the use of Cryptocurrencies for cross-border trading and remittances. At the heart of the development is a burgeoning community that facilitates such activities.
“Sudan is a sanctioned country in addition to the ban on unlicensed foreign fiat trading by the government (USD, EUR, Sudanese Pound [SDG]). Therefore, remittances are not easy and involve a high cost via official channels which make crypto the easiest and affordable way to transfer money.”
Elawad revealed that there is a community of Bitcoin and Crypto enthusiasts, and it is growing. The Bitcoin Meetup Sudan group was founded in 2013 and has over 2800 members who are actively working to facilitate moving money out of the country and buying goods abroad.
“One smart solution is BitSouq.com, a platform founded by my colleague Waleed Hassan, one of the early Crypto adopters and developers in Sudan. It allows users to buy local telecom top-up cards using Bitcoin,” he told QT.
Government’s Attitude Towards Cryptocurrency
Dozens of African countries have forbidden Cryptocurrencies. These counterproductive policies usually come from their Central Banks.
When QT asked about the Sudanese government’s approach to the digital currency, this was Elawad’s response:
“Mentioning the government, I would like to highlight here the major shift of political power in Sudan due to the Sudanese Revolution. The situation resulted in the overthrow of Al-Bashir’s dictatorship regime last April then a new transitional government was formed last August followed by the formation of The Transitional Cabinet led by Prime Minister Dr Abdalla Hamdok. Until now, there are no regulations or even official actions toward cryptocurrencies. The deposed regime merely avoided delving into any related subject or discussion, and the Central Bank officials have considered “informally, in a way or another” that cryptocurrencies are just SCAM and illegal!”
With new leadership in place, there are some initiatives actively working towards framing a new ICT structure and vision coupled with a new Digital Transformation Roadmap. “We have been invited to be part, and we’ll do our best to influence the adoption of Blockchain as a central pillar of the next National Digital Strategy among other emerging techs,” Elawad hinted.
Challenges To Adoption
Elawad who is the first Sudanese and the second African to be certified by Blockchain Training Alliance as a Certified Blockchain Solution Architect thinks the biggest challenge to mass adoption is the low penetration of internet in his country. Only 30% of the population has access to the internet.
Moreover, there are misconceptions about Blockchain particularly, Bitcoin and other Cryptocurrencies concerning scams. “That’s why the Blockchain community members bear a great responsibility to keep educating people about the positive side of this technology and how it would change our future for the better,” he noted. “On top of that, building some tangible solutions/products that really work could support our cause.”
The Co-founder was confident that the new political development in Sudan would encourage more innovation in the Digital Technology space. From his point of view, there would be sustainable solutions for long-existing problems in the country, such as access to the internet and financial inclusion.
“There are countries in the MENA region that have already started adopting the technology with ideal strategies and robust regulations,” he pointed out. “These would be great models to be embraced as a stepping stone.”