The Bitcoin rush around the world has raised many legitimate questions about what the cryptocurrency is all about and how it can be beneficial to individuals, organisations and governments. And rightly so, as we have seen over the past couple of months a substantial rise in demand, price and utility of Bitcoin across several sectors around the world.
If we consider countries like Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya where Bitcoin has granted many citizens freedom to create, manage and grow their wealth without stress, we can understand in part why many are turning to cryptocurrencies amidst instability in governance and economies in COVID-destabilised world.
However, coming home to Zambia where cryptocurrencies have not yet made as much impact, one may wonder what the implications would be if Bitcoin were to become commonplace and widely accepted. We will look at this but first, what is Bitcoin and what makes it special?
What is Bitcoin?
Bitcoin is a type of digital currency. What that means is that unlike the kwacha that is printed on paper, Bitcoin is purely electronic and can only exist in a digital form. As a cryptocurrency, other than being digital and encrypted, another particularly notable feature of Bitcoin is its decentralised nature, meaning that it is not controlled by an entity or government. Rather, millions of people around the world who operate powerful computers referred to as nodes all contribute to the smooth functioning of the Bitcoin network. This decentralised nature of Bitcoin is a huge advantage to the world considering the many hurdles we’ve had to face this past year.
To put this in perspective, consider the past year and the woes that came with COVID-19, including country-wide lockdowns and the closure of businesses. This caused major problems for the economies of many countries, forcing some into a recession. To deal with the recession, since the government controls fiat currency, they usually decide to print more money. The implication of this is that it often leads to inflation as Zambia and many other countries have experienced, and the purchasing power of that fiat currency is lowered. That means that you can have more money but you can’t buy as much as you used to buy with it.
With Bitcoin, this is different.
The need for Bitcoin
Money came to be because it solved a problem with transacting. But beyond that, money has also become a tool to create wealth. We often do this by saving or investing, hoping that we can have more money in the future when we need it. But over the years, using money for these purposes has become harder with issues such as exorbitant transaction fees, inter-border regulations and basic lack of trust causing major issues for the average Zambian or even organisations.
Imagine setting a particular sum aside for a few years only to discover that it worths less than it did when you saved or invested it. Rather than helping people create wealth and plan for a better future, many have found it difficult to attain financial freedom even after they have done everything right.
Fiat currencies, as wonderful as they have been for centuries may just not be the answer to the same questions in the fast-changing world we live in today.
Benefits of Bitcoin to Zambians
The following are ways that Zambians can use Bitcoin to ease their everyday financial needs.
- Cheaper transaction fees – Traditional banking systems and money transfer companies have come a long way in solving the problem of sending money from one place to another. But a major deterrent of these channels is the exorbitant fees they attract. Not that banks and the likes of MoneyGram of Western Unions deliberately hike fees but as there are different processes involved in sending fiat money especially across borders, the operational cost cannot but be high.
This is where Bitcoin comes into play. By design, the Bitcoin network allows you to send bitcoins to anyone regardless of where they are in the world at a very small network fee. This is possible because checks that are manually carried out with traditional banks are automated on the blockchain, making it easier to confirm the existence of an amount being sent and ensuring it gets to its destination securely.
- Faster transactions: Another good thing about Bitcoin is that transactions on the Bitcoin network are usually completed in about 10 minutes, regardless of where in the world you are sending Bitcoin to. This, again, is possible due to Bitcoin’s decentralised nature. There are thousands of people around the world known as miners who are responsible for confirming Bitcoin transactions by solving problems using computers with very high processing power. So, if one miner isn’t available, there are hundreds of thousands of other miners who can confirm your transaction in record time.
With this, a businessperson paying her European suppliers, or a parent who wants to send money to their child studying in China no longer has to worry about the conversion and transaction fees with Bitcoin or delay in sending. By simply buying Bitcoin in Zambia and sending to the desired destination, the recipient will receive the payment within minutes and also as easily convert the Bitcoin to the fiat currency where they are.
- Improved savings culture – the issue with the devaluation of currencies and inflations make saving unattractive for many as they do not know if their money would be available to them when they need it or if it would still be worth what it should. But with Bitcoin, users can easily create free Bitcoin wallets and keep their savings in it for years and have instant access to it when they need it.
- Alternate investment option – For many Bitcoin users around the world, Bitcoin is used as a store of value. This means that you can buy 1000kwacha worth of Bitcoin today, keep it for years. But because Bitcoin has a limited supply (only 21 million bitcoins can exist), the value of any bitcoin owned today is more likely to have appreciated significantly in the future.
Consider the fact that just a few years ago Bitcoin was worth just a few hundred dollars. Today, it is worth over $50,000 dollars. And as the adoption rate of Bitcoin increases globally, with institutions like Paypal, Mastercard, Visa, Square Inc., and notable banks like JP Morgan Chase and co. joining the cryptocurrency space, the value will yet appreciate. This positions Bitcoin as a good store of value for those seeking investment options.
- Availability – A good way to look at Bitcoin is as a global currency, not limited by social status or borderlines. Bitcoin is a currency for everybody that will likely be embraced by more countries and properly regulated to better serve its citizens. Bitcoin can easily be purchased by anyone at virtually any amount. Cryptocurrency exchanges like Yellow Card make buying and selling of Bitcoin easy for Zambians by making it easy for them to sign up, create a Bitcoin wallet and purchase as low as x kwacha worth of Bitcoin instantly.
For many apparent reasons, Bitcoin is here to simplify the lives of everyone and companies like Yellow Card whose mission is “financial freedom for all” are working to ensure that every citizen, including the unbanked and the underserved by prevailing financial systems have access to Bitcoin.
Zamtel targets near countrywide blanket coverage as it erects 790 new towers
Zamtel says it is confident of attaining a near countrywide blanket coverage as it nears the completion of its towers roll out project.
Zamtel Chief Executive Officer Sydney Mupeta said once the project is completed, over 90 percent of the country will have adequate communication coverage.
Mr Mupeta said Zamtel is confident it will complete the installation of the remaining towers which are part of the 1009 towers project by end of the year.
He said access to communication services in the rural areas is helping transform livelihoods.
Mr Mupeta said farmers are now able to negotiate for better prices for their produce as they can now approach different buyers using their mobile phone.
The Zamtel CEO was speaking in Msanzala Constituency in Petauke when he launched two communication towers at Misolo and Ukwimi.
“I wish to inform you that the sites we are launching are is part of the 1009 communication towers which Zamtel has been erecting in different parts of the Country mainly in rural areas as part of Phase II of the GRZ Communication Towers project. So far, this project has delivered over 790 new sites with Msanzala receiving 8 new towers, one of which we are commissioning today at Misolo,” Mr Mupeta said.
“As the GRZ Communication Towers project nears completion, we are confident that we will deliver the remaining few sites this year which is within the project schedule. Allow me to make a bold proclamation here by stating that once this project is fully completed, Zambia will have a near blanket coverage with regard to communication services,” he said
He added, “This means that almost all the corners of this beautiful Country will have access to communication services.”
And Msanzala PF Member of Parliament Peter Daka says the PF government deserves re-election because they have delivered development everywhere.
Mr Daka said there is no part of Zambia that has not been touched by any form of development.
He said the PF under President Lungu has constructed roads, built clinics and hospitals and installed communications towers across the country.
“President Lungu promised when he came here that he will bring development without leaving anyone behind and this is what is happening today. We are here launching this tower as testimony of that promise by His Excellency President Edgar Chagwa,” Mr Daka said.
At the two ceremonies, both Chief Nyampande’s Representative Joyce Mwanza and Chief Sandwe commended Zamtel for bringing its network closer to the people.
The University of Zambia (UNZA) commences construction of 3km perimeter wall fence
THE University of Zambia (UNZA) has commenced the construction of the three (3) kilometres perimeter wall fence aimed at securing the institution from vandals and theft activities.
Speaking during the official ground-breaking and laying of the foundation stone ceremony, University of Zambia Vice Chancellor, Prof. Luke Evuta Mumba says that, once completed, the wall fence will enhance the outlook of the university but also improve the security of its infrastructure as well as the community living and working within the institution.
The Vice Chancellor has thanked the government of the Republic of Zambia, in particular the Ministry of Local Government for funding the construction process. The Vice Chancellor adds that, the funds for the construction of the wall fence have been derived from a compensation arising from the land affected by the construction of the new road connecting Nangwenya and Kamloops roads.
The University of Zambia has in the recent past embarked on a massive infrastructure development program, demonstrated by a number of projects at both the Great East Road and Ridgeway campuses. Of note, is the East Park Mall developed by Graduare Property Development Limited, the construction of student hostels which are yet to be completed, the construction of the road connecting Nangwenya and Kamloops roads and most recently the completion of the Teaching and Learning Complex commissioned by the Republican President, Dr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu.
While the University of Zambia notes with pride, that these developments have changed the outlook of the university, it also notes that the developments have exposed the institution to a number of entrances into its premises. This exposure has in turn brought about challenges in effectively providing security to the university and its important installations.
To secure the university from vandals and theft activities, Management of the institution has embarked on a project of constructing a perimeter wall fence around the university which is expected to be completed within three (3) months.
This is according to a press statement issued by Dr. Brenda Bukowa, A/Head – Comm. & Marketing at the University of Zambia (UNZA).
Minister was wrong to declare CEC’s transmission and distribution lines as a common carrier, Court rules
THE Lusaka High Court has quashed Energy Minister Matthew Nkhuwa’s decision to declare the Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC’s) transmission and distribution lines as a common carrier.
In her judgement delivered on Friday judge Elita Mwikisa noted that there was a failure on the part of the Minister to act with procedural fairness towards CEC.
She said Minister’s decision to declare CEC’s transmission and distribution lines as common carrier through the passing of S.I No.57 of 2020, had taken away CEC’s rights to negotiate terms and conditions of use of its infrastructure in view of the fact that any enterprise can use CEC’s infractructure at the wheeling charge that ERB has set, which CEC had argued was not cost effective.
“In fact, KCM has abrogated its contractual obligations under the Power Supply Agreement (PSA) to pay the debt owed to CEC amounting to USD 144 million. I agree with CEC that S.I No. 57 of 2020 is too wide in its application in that it affects all the applicant’s transmission and distribution lines instead of only affecting lines supplying power to KCM,” judge Mwikisa said.
She found that the minister’s decision to declare CEC’s distribution and transmission lines as a common carrier was not for purposes of the Act but was intended to assist KCM avoid the effect of section 43 of the Electricity Act.
Judge Mwikisa agreed with CEC that the Minister’s decision was meant to ensure continous supply of electricity power to KCM, despite being indebted to CEC.
“The Minister’s decision is ultra vires the provisions of section 15 (2) of the Act and therefore illegal. KCM failed to pay the debt of USD144 million and CEC has the right under section 43 (1) to discontinue the supply of power,” she further said.
She further said CEC was not fairly treated by the Minister who arbitrarily used his powers to declare its transmission and distribution lines as common carrier without giving CEC a chance to negotiate terms and conditions for the use of its infrastructure.
“All in all, I find that the applicant has succeeded on all grounds under order 53 rule 3 of the Rules of the Supreme Court. I accordingly quash the decision of the Minister of May 29, 2020, to declare the applicant’s transmission and distribution lines as a common carrier. Costs follow the event,” ruled judge Mwikisa.
In this matter, CEC which cited the Attorney General and the Energy Regulation Board (ERB) as respondents, was seeking a declaration that Nkhuwa’s decision dated May 29, 2020, to declare its transmission and distribution lines as common carrier was unlawful.
CEC wanted a declaration that the decision of the Minister of Energy to direct it to provide a wheeling path for Zesco Limited to supply power to KCM on terms directed by the Energy Regulation Board was illegal and therefore null and void.
It also wanted a declaration that the decision by the Director General of the Energy Regulation Board of May 31, 2020 to direct it to charge a wheeling tariff of US$5.84/kw/per month was illegal and therefore null and void.
CEC further wanted among others, an order to quash the said decisions and a further order to stop Nkhuwa from enforcing SI no.57 of 2020 as it is illegal.