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Blockchain firmly on Nigeria's 2019 political agenda

Blockchain firmly on Nigeria's 2019 political agenda

The main opposition presidential candidate in Nigeria's general elections in February 2019, the People's Democratic Party Atiku Abubakar plans to introduce a blockchain and cryptocurrency policy if elected.

Abubakar, a former vice president, proposed the policy as a way to improve the Nigerian economy. To date, it is the first time a national policy for the nascent industry is being suggested.

In his 'Let's Get Nigeria Working Again' campaign manifesto, Abubakar noted that more than 70% of the country's population is below the age of 30 - an estimated 140 million people.

Like the country's existing mobile money policy, which has created jobs in the informal sector, a well-drafted blockchain policy is likely to establish guidelines for business initiatives within- and into the country.

It should define if and how a separate economy would be developed around blockchain/cryptocurrency or incorporated into another, especially with talks of blockchain technology's capabilities to enhance openness in most sectors.

Munachi Ogueke, co-founder of Nigerian start-up Cryset and avid blockchain and cryptocurrency enthusiast said, "So, according to the policy plan he laid out, a planned blockchain and cryptocurrency framework would be looked into by the administration. To what end? We can't say for now ... but the blockchain community believes it's a step in the right direction. We have been broadly unregulated in the space in Nigeria."

Although no statistics have been made available, Nigerians continue to engage the blockchain/ cryptocurrency space. They are focused on global trends, they trade in cryptocurrencies and invest in digital assets as tokenised by start-ups through blockchain-backed initial coin offerings.

Others have focused on acquiring the necessary technical skills to improve their work prospects within the sector.

Locals like Ogueke look up to the government to take full advantage of the technology, particularly in light of the fact that corporate enterprises like Oracle, Microsoft and InterSwitch have launched blockchain-related projects in Nigeria, albeit on a small scale or as pilot projects.

There's been no concrete government position on blockchain despite discussions for the past three years.

Ogueke adds: "Blockchain and cryptocurrency companies are playing over cautiously or recklessly because there is no clear line. A framework will go a long way to give clarity."

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