The Senegalese Bitcoin community is thriving, with a homegrown Bitcoin exchange, localised Bitcoin seminars, and a growing list of retailers adopting Bitcoin in 2022.
Nourou, a 29-year-old Bitcoiner from Tunisia, has a vision for his homeland. He started Bitcoin Senegal in late 2021 after working as a financial analyst for a French bank.
Nourou was ready to orange-pill Senegal after an eight-year spell in France, during which he gained his Masters degree, Bitcoin Chaincode certifications, and a strong understanding of legacy financial systems thanks to work in investment finance.
He was saddened to realise that Coinmap (a website that lists Bitcoin retailers and merchants throughout the world) had no locations in Senegal when he returned home. Despite Akon’s aspirations to build a crypto-style Akon City, this is the case.
The 29-year-old was motivated to try something similar in his hometown after learning that a “Bitcoin Beach” notion in El Salvador eventually led to the country becoming the first to recognise Bitcoin as legal cash.
Nourou has made strides since arriving in Dakar, Africa’s westernmost capital. He’s delivered upwards of 18 instructive speeches about Bitcoin and orange-pilled two restaurants, one games shop, a surf camp, and a few local vendors in addition to launching Bitcoin Senegal. All of this happened in around six weeks.
By July 2022, he wants 20 restaurants to take Bitcoin, just as he finishes developing Senegal’s first bespoke Bitcoin exchange from the ground up. The exchange would go up against Binance (which has a strong presence in Africa), Paxful, and a friend’s cryptocurrency exchange, which uses a third-party solution off the shelf.
Nourou stated that his exchange will be as decentralised as possible, and that despite the fierce competition:
“Bitcoin demand in Senegal is so high that it doesn’t matter how many exchanges you build.”
While the Sub-Saharan country of 17 million people is aware of Bitcoin, it is far from knowledgeable about the digital currency. Furthermore, “literacy rates are quite poor, one of the main impediments to adoption,” according to Nourou.
Furthermore, while French is the official national language, the majority of Senegalese speak Wolof, a local dialect. Because there are few Bitcoin teaching materials in Wolof, Nourou created a Wolof-language YouTube channel to teach his countrymen about Bitcoin.
For merchants, the Bitcoin journey began in Les Almadies, a rich ex-pat neighbourhood in Dakar with a high literacy rate and a significant number of international visitors. He’s approached beach bars, restaurants, and barbershops, offering to come “day or night” if BitPay or lightning terminals fail.
The Bitcoin sign is prominently displayed in the restaurant Pranha (see photo). Renée, the establishment’s owner, is a free thinker and surf coach who was “open to the idea of Bitcoin.” “Why not?” you could ask. They took their first Bitcoin payment on February 24 after setting up a BTCPay Server earlier that month.
Nonetheless, the price of Bitcoin continues to fluctuate, and Nourou’s efforts to orange pill continue to be hampered. As a result, he urges merchants to add a 10% markup to Bitcoin payments.
He also spends a lot of time with retailers, explaining Bitcoin to them before introducing them to Lightning, the Bitcoin layer 2 solution.
In terms of teaching, equipping taxi drivers or street vendors with QR codes and BTC Pay servers is just not cost-effective. A chat and a mention of the Youtube channel is a good place to start for self-employed hustlers.
Nourou is instead going after restaurant owners, company owners, surf schools, and established businesses. It’s a modest but significant step toward greater Bitcoin acceptance in the country.
Disclaimer: These are the writer’s opinions and should not be considered investment advice. Readers should do their own research.