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The Importance of Bitcoin to Zambians

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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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.
  4. 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.

  5. 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.

Business

The Future of Zambia’s Tourism is Domestic

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There has been a lot of emphasis placed on promoting international tourism in Zambia, with little attention given to domestic tourism, which is often relegated to being a buffer for the tourism industry’s off-seasons, when there are fewer international guests.

This is unfortunate in the wake of the recent turmoil that has rocked the industry.  When international travelers were forced to stay home due to COVID-19 lock-downs, tour operators were forced to look to the fact that domestic tourism can play a key role in shaping the future, beyond just revitalizing the sector after COVID-19.

When inflow of international travelers decreased by up to 80 percent and bookings were cancelled due to global lock-down measures, Zambians were called upon to help the industry stay afloat. They responded to this distress call and took advantage of discounts and other promotional packages that some operators were offering. They also spread word of special offers and the need to visit various destinations to help people working in tourism keep their jobs.

For a country like Zambia, which attracts considerably fewer international tourists than countries in the region such as South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe, the need to promote domestic tourism cannot be overemphasized.

Having a stable base of local tourists would not only complement the tourism sector’s low share of international guests, it would also help cushion operators from severe impacts of losing international tourists due to unforeseen circumstances in the future.  As mentioned earlier, when Zambians were called upon to visit the country’s tourist destinations in order to help the industry survive the impacts of COVID-19, many did. Imagine what can be possible if deliberate steps are taken to keep the momentum going?

Promoting domestic tourism would also have conservation benefits. Zambia’s conservation sector is intricately linked with tourism. Public resources allocated to conservation over the years have been low. According to a report by International Growth Centre (IGC) in Zambia, between 2010 and 2018, only an average of 0.6% of Zambia’s national budget was allocated to environmental and wildlife conservation. As a result, conservation activities have heavily depended on funding from donor organizations and tourism firms. Boosting domestic tourism will increase operators’ profits which would translate to increased donations to the conservation sector.  For the conservation sector, increased funding would ensure that Zambia’s ecosystems and wildlife are protected.

The Government also recognizes the strategic role that domestic tourism can play, as it has been identified as one of Zambia’s promising prospects for economic growth and sustainable conservation.  Earlier in 2021, Former Tourism and Arts Minister Ronald Chitotela called on tourism operators to partner with Government to reduce the cost of domestic tourism in Zambia after COVID-19. In a statement issued to the media by the Ministry’s Public Relations Officer Sakabilo Kalembwe in April 2021, the Minister implored tourism operators to “see what they can give to the Zambian people so that domestic tourism can be boosted.”

Zambia is endowed with many beautiful landscapes and some incredible heritage sites.  The country currently has 20 national parks that hold a great diversity of wildlife. This includes the world-renowned Kafue, Liuwa and South Luangwa national parks, which are counted among the greatest wildlife sanctuaries in the world. Combine this with diverse cultures and the many museums dotted across the country and you end up with something that can truly be appreciated by the local people.

It is worth noting that promoting domestic tourism cannot be achieved by the Government and tourism operators alone. We all have a part to play. As citizens of this beautiful and resource-rich country, we need to extend the “support your local team” slogan to the country’s tourism industry because supporting Zambia’s tourism is supporting local businesses and local communities. And while it is true that some operators may need to reduce their prices to cater for the local nature enthusiasts working with a tight budget, there are many establishments that are actually affordable. All that remains is for us to identify them and take advantage of their packages.

As global lockdown measures are slowly lifted and Zambia prepares to re-open its boarders for international tourists, players in the tourism sector should remember that while domestic tourists may not provide as much money as international tourists, the sustainability of the industry depends on Zambians buying into the idea that they can enjoy all that the country has to offer, without breaking the bank.

In other words, international tourism is what has sustained Zambia’s tourism sector up to this point, but domestic tourism is what will take it to the next level.

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Nkanda Yatu launches a corporate collection for men

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NKANDA Yatu is a well-known fashion label in Zambia founded by Head Designer Nkandu Kabaso and popularly known for its stylish and exquisite suits. In 2022 Nkanda Yatu has expanded its portfolio with an introduction of menswear to cater for the ideal corporate man. Starting the year 2022 on a high, Kabaso Nkandu jetted off to Kampala to launch the exclusive menswear collection in collaboration with prominent Ugandan Photographer Daville Mutabazi.

“We have made efforts to grow our clientele outside of Zambia over the past years; I chose to launch this collection in Uganda to expose our brand to the rest of Africa. Zambian fashion is growing and we are here to promote it”, said Nkandu Kabaso. The Winter/Fall 2022 collection is a unique blend of colours and patterns that are well-suited for corporate boardrooms and business networking events. For this particular collection, Nkanda Yatu Head Designer, Kabaso Nkandu sought inspiration from classic trends to which he added a touch of modern styles.

Following a successful 2021 with showcases at the Lusaka July and Windhoek Fashion Week, Nkanda Yatu will be a huge force in the fashion industry this year and a designer worth watching

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Zamtel unveils Kasama Service Centre, pledges quality customer service

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ZAMTEL has unveiled its state of the art customer service centre in Kasama, bringing the total number of new service centres to 43.

In addition to the Service Centres, Zamtel has also rolled out more than 80 Mini-shops across the country.

Zamtel Acting Chief Commercial Officer Keith Banda said this is in line with the Company’s new strategic direction of taking service-access closer to the customers.

Mr. Banda said Zamtel has had physical presence in Kasama at the Kasama Exchange but that the growing demand for products and services in the district required that the company open a dedicated and modern service centres.

“As part of our retail expansion drive, we have adopted a unique franchise model through which we are assisting enterprising Zambians to seize opportunities being created in the telecoms value chain. To this date, over 300 direct jobs have been created as more Zambians are taking up the opportunity to partner with Zamtel to run Service Centres,” Mr. Banda said.

He pledged that in 2022, Zamtel will be rolling out new and innovative products and that customers should look out for more value based customer service this year.

Mr. Banda said Zamtel stands ready to work with the Zambian government through the Ministry of Science and Technology in partnership with other independent developers in creating local digital solutions that will address local challenges.

He was speaking in a speech ready on his behalf by Regional Business Manager William Mwale.

And officiating at the event, Northern Province Permanent Secretary Bernard Mpundu commended Zamtel for the efforts in providing affordable and quality services to its customers.

“We can confidently say that Zamtel has now positioned itself quite well on the market and is one of those indigenous brands that makes us proud to be Zambian. It is gratifying to see that Zamtel is competing in a highly competitive market but has proven its capabilities for many years and the only thing we can do as Zambians is to support our own brand for it to grow even stronger,” Mr Mpundu said.

“With the opening of the Kasama Customer Service Centre, I hope many Kasama residents will take advantage of this location to acquire Zamtel Simcards and start enjoying excellent products and services offered by Zamtel.”

This was in a speech read for him by Northern Province Deputy Permanent Secretary Mr. Sineva Kambenja.

(Mwebantu, Thursday, January 13th, 2022)

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Foxdale Forest – Phase 2 Selling

ZAMBIA: COVID-19 STATS

21 Jan 2022, 3:50 AM (GMT)

Zambia Stats

300,587 Total Cases
3,885 Deaths
287,646 Recovered

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