Part 4: If Bitcoin Works in Zimbabwe, It Works Everywhere – Bitcoin in Africa: The Ubuntu Way


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The fourth part of the six-part series about Bitcoin in Africa is an interview with a young woman from Harare. She calls herself a Digipreneur and is working as a teacher, too. With her organization that is focused on the digitalization of Africa, she aims to bring Zimbabwe forward. As the use of Bitcoin is outlawed and the state of human rights and free speech is rather poor in Zimbabwe, we agreed to not mention her name. We are talking about:

  • The opportunities for bitcoin adoption
  • Shutdown of Golix, the only Zimbabwean crypto exchange
  • The philosophy of Ubuntu and how it relates to bitcoin
  • Hyper-inflation
  • Future of Bitcoin in Africa
  • How cryptocurrency feels like luxury in Zimbabwe
  • How to design bitcoin for use in Africa
  • Libra, a game changer
  • Most used social media tools
  • The need for even more accessibility and ease of use

“If I have a Bitcoin, I can send money to my relatives, who are in Malawi or in Namibia or in Ghana. Currently I can’t with our own currency. I can’t send money out freely and quickly, but if we can sit down as a community and say okay, we need to buy a new borehole and we can do that just by using our phone. That’s an amazing thing. You know, if we look at it from a place of development, if you look at it from a place of helping the community and taking care of each other, if it allows us to take care of each other without having to create so many barriers and so much red tape to get stuff done with money, I feel like when you change that narrative, you speak to something very deep within an African.” – Teacher and Digipreneur, Zimbabwe

Image: Martina Gruber "going home"
Image: Martina Gruber “going home”

“Cryptocurrency feels almost like luxury. It’s sad because I don’t think that’s what it’s supposed to be, but it was also bearing in mind cryptocurrency was designed in a functioning environment. It was designed by people who maybe haven’t spent 12 hours in a fuel queue?” – Teacher and Digipreneur, Zimbabwe

“We need to start having more conversations about the future with the people who are actually affected by the future. Hold workshops under a tree in Binga and have someone who is there who can translate into the local language and have a conversation.” – Teacher and Digipreneur, Zimbabwe


This podcast special and my trip to Africa would not have been possible without my sponsors and supporters.
I want to thank my sponsors first: Thank you: LocalBitcoins.com a person-to-person bitcoin trading site, Peter McCormack and the whatbitcoindid podcast, Coinfinity and the Card Wallet, SHIFT Cryptosecurity, manufacturer of the hardware wallet BitBox02 and many thanks to several unknown private donors, who sent me Satoshis over the Lightning Network.

This special is edited by CoinDesk’s Podcasts Editor Adam B. Levine and published first on the CoinDesk Podcast Network. Thank you very much for supporting the Bitcoin in Africa series with your work.

Thanks goes also out to stakwork.com – stakwork is a great project that brings bitcoin into the world through earning. One can do microjobs on stakwork, earning Satoshis and cash them out without even having an understanding about the lightning network or bitcoin. I think we need more projects like that to spread the usage of bitcoin around the world.

Thank you also to GoTenna, for donating several GoTenna devices to set up a mesh network in Zimbabwe and to Team Satoshi, the decentralized sports team for supporting my work.

This special is also brought to you by the Let’s Talk Bitcoin Network.

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TRANSCRIPT
Today’s guest is a young woman from Harare. She calls herself a Digipreneur and is working as a teacher, too. With her organization that is focused on the digitalization of Africa, she aims to bring Zimbabwe forward. As the use of Bitcoin is outlawed and the state of human rights and free speech is rather poor in Zimbabwe, we agreed to not mention her name. Thank you anonymous friend and I also thank all the other people in Zimbabwe who have been so kind to dedicate their time to support my work. And thanks to you, my listener for following.

If you want to ask a question, feel free to visit the episode page at https://bitcoinundco.com/en/africa4 and press the appropriate button. I will answer your question in one of the next episodes.

Teacher and Digipreneur
I am an entrepreneur or what we would call a digipreneur. I’m an educator and I’m also creative. My main interaction with Bitcoin has come through my organization – we basically focus on furthering the dialogue and development of the fourth industrial revolution and its impact on African economies and communities. And so we look across all sectors, from finance, to agriculture, to education, arts, to governance, mining, etc. So, my research into bitcoin and everything else related to FinTech and cryptocurrencies came through my organization.

Anita Posch
And what is your current opinion on Bitcoin or how do you see Bitcoin in Zimbabwe?

Teacher and Digipreneur
I think Bitcoin in Zimbabwe is going to be a challenge to try and establish, also considering like our tech infrastructure is not that great. It could be a lot better. But I think Bitcoin as a way to, you know, fight the system and you know, the usual narrative that comes with Bitcoin, I don’t think would be successful in this country.

Anita Posch
That’s interesting. But the properties of Bitcoin, like being permissionless cannot be inflated, cannot be censored, will be or is maybe more stable than your local money here. Isn’t that enough? Like, isn’t that a good thing to do, to be?

Teacher and Digipreneur
It’s incredibly attractive. It is the right thing to do. I mean, it would be the right thing it would make so much sense. But I think where we’re coming from culturally, as a nation, our belief systems, also our lack of trust, generally in whatever is new, or different, I think would make it really hard to justify why we would adopt something like Bitcoin especially since it cannot really be controlled or taxed per se.

Anita Posch
So you are talking about the government at the moment? Yeah. So yeah, okay. Yeah. So that’s this side? Yeah. At the moment, I think it’s not really regulated. But there was a platform called Golix.

Teacher and Digipreneur
Yes, there was a platform. I believe they’ve since shut down. It’s because it was new and it was different. And the government had no way of controlling people where they had an ATM which is actually what got them shut down. They had an ATM which you could cash out your Bitcoin in hard currency, in US dollars and that obviously, you know, obviously caused a bit of a stir, and I’m not sure what regulations they hadn’t followed, etc. But it was very soon. Initially, it was just the ATM that was removed. And then I think a couple of months later, the entire institution had shut down. I’m not sure whether you can still trade on Golix but yeah, as far as I know, that was shut down very quickly, which for me was very eye opening and indicative of how cryptocurrency is viewed generally in this country and how it’s mistrusted a lot.

Anita Posch
Yeah. Because the government cannot control it. And they do not want to have people exchange their money, the local money into bitcoin or the USD into bitcoin, they want to control it because they use it by themselves. I mean, yeah, they want the money here.

Anita Posch
What’s about Ubuntu?

Teacher and Digipreneur
Ubuntu is basically stands for I am because you are the health of your community, the health of the people around you will determine your own personal well being. So I’ll give you an example on how we greet each other. So when we say good morning, it’s typically Mamukase which is just asking, how did you wake up? The response to that is Tamuka Mamumokau which means we woke up well, only if you woke up well, so it’s ingrained in our very language it’s, it’s basically putting an emphasis on those around you in order to improve your own social standing your own your own well being as a person, so I feel like if we shift cryptocurrency for what it stands for aside, there’s a one sideways yeah it’s against the system it’s like this activist. It’s almost taken on the shade of activism. But if you look at it, then the benefit that I can if I use if I have Bitcoin is just choose Bitcoin, right? I can send money to my relatives who are in Malawi or in Namibia or in Ghana. Currently I can’t with our own currency, I can’t send money out freely and quickly. It’s usually a bit of a process and you have to get all sorts of approvals. But if cryptocurrency if Bitcoin allows me to quickly take care of the people around me if we can sit down as a community and say, okay, we need to buy a new borehole for our community because we don’t have water, we haven’t had water for years. And we need a communal borehole. If Bitcoin allows us to buy and ship that a borehole was they want the equipment or they want to bring it in from America or China or Europe. And we can do that without just by using our phones and not having to go through like, that’s an amazing thing. You know, if we look at it from a place of development, if we look at it from a place of helping the community and taking care of each other for allows us to take care of each other without having to create so many barriers and so much red tape to get stuff done with money. I feel like when you change that narrative, you speak to something very deep within an African.

Even in the midst of our selfishness, I will be selfish about something because in my mind, I know I’ve got my mother, my father, my brother, my grandmother, my aunt, my daughter, my husband, I’ve got my whole family to take care of, if this thing allows me to take care of everybody around me and those outside of the country, as well, that’s amazing. You know, that’s fantastic. And instead of focusing on fighting the system, because that doesn’t work, you know, especially in such a politically volatile country and an economically volatile country as ours. The narrative won’t be well received and will most likely be met with a lot of resistance from the government, from people as well, who are already in positions of power. I think I feel like we put a lot on the government. Yes, the government is responsible for a lot, but it’s at the end of the day, it’s the market, its people and how we use the resources that we have as a country. And so sometimes it’s people who will resist new changes, because then it affects their own under dealings and their own corruption dealing. So when you sell it from a place, almost like CSR, corporate social responsibility, you know, we’re being responsible, and that Bitcoin is a tool for responsibility. It’s a tool for community development. And if we started off at that level, I feel like we’ll be a bit more open to learning about it and understanding how it works and realizing that it can be a solution. Sometimes it’s scary, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad.

Anita Posch
Yeah, so changing the narrative from Bitcoin and money of freedom, freedom for yourself to Bitcoin is community money maybe? Yes. Okay. Yeah. Then Yeah, understand. So because, outside of Africa, in Europe and in the US, the narrative around Bitcoin is very much this self sovereignity and independence and freedom. And I understand that that would not be the right way to communicate that here.

Teacher and Digipreneur
No, it’s not. It’s not we’re not selfish people. Africa, Africa as a continent has always been built on your neighbors, on being neighborly, on building communities, we work, we’re about kingdoms, you know, and that’s sort of nature. It was always the wealth of the community, the well being of the community. We even this culture of, for example, just an example to illustrate culture, putting our elderly in homes that was like our ancestors right now are turning in their graves like what are you doing? That’s not what we do. It’s as soon as the person gets past a certain age where they struggle to do things for themselves, you bring them into the family. And what would happen is the grandmothers or the grandfathers would be the ones who would then impart wisdom on to the children because you got children in the house so they would almost become like your nannies, may be there to look after the children and but you know, pass on knowledge and that sort of thing. And so, independence like self sovereignty. It’s important but not as important as the health of your community.

Anita Posch
Yeah, I think self sovereignty is also meant in a way against or in opposite to the government or to the state, to the nation. You know, it’s the nation state independent yeah exactly. Because you were speaking of elderly people, now, I realized that here in Zimbabwe elderly people are very well respected, yes there’s even – we don’t have that – there’s a line in the supermarket where it says elderly people, that’s a line especially for them yes we don’t have that.

Teacher and Digipreneur
Really? wow that is I’m sorry, I’m sorry, if you’re old and listening to this podcast come to Zimbabwe we’ll take care of you if we can find the fuel to pick you up from the airport.

Anita Posch
In the last weeks, I think the government decided on the minimum wage for workers. Like for gardeners or maids, something like that. And I think it’s like eight USD a month. Yes. I mean, imagine that, yes. How can they live? And then they have to get home with, with the mini buses public transport, which costs like maybe 50 us cents or something like that, you know? So. So basically, people cannot go home to their family because they can’t afford because they only earn like 10 USD a month. Exactly. And then you have children at home. Exactly. And elderly people and your whole family. I mean, actually, this is this actually I’ve that slavery in a way.

Teacher and Digipreneur
It is and then you have people who are desperate. So for example, then we start to borrow behaviors that aren’t ours, and I hope I can speak candidly. So, when you talked about slavery, I thought a story came to mind. Yes. So I like a lot of people who work – I am fortunate that I work – so I have someone who works who stays at home with my child and who takes her to school. So I have a nanny, I have a live-in nanny reason she has to live-in because I can’t afford to pay her enough to pay her rent every month. Because if she really wants to live in a place every month, it’s gonna cost her at least 30 US dollars a month in addition to her, she has two children that she has to put in school. They need school uniforms. She has to feed herself so she’s a live-in, which is cheaper for me, in that I know everything is covered for you, you have food 24/7, there’s electricity, there’s water. And for her it’s actually more favorable to be live-in because to stay in, in this you know, for example, in .. that’s where she’s based to go and live there all the time you’ve either got no power all the time, we’ve got no water and you have to walk long distances with a bucket. So she opted to stay in because we stay in a neighborhood where there’s always water there’s always electricity and its borehole water so it’s clean. But you’ll have a scenario where I have someone ask me, how much do you pay your maid? And then I’ll say, Oh, well, you know, 800 Bond, basically, and then I take care of everything else. And you’ll have a lot of people say it is far too much, far too much, has too much and like, but, you know, because of the winner, I mean, you know, you can’t you can’t pay someone that much only because then they would have to pay more. Yes. And I am but, why not? Because she’s a mother. She’s a single mother with two children. And I know that’s not even enough. That’s not even enough to fill up a trolley. Right now. 40 Bond is the new 1. What is the new $1 . 40 bond, right like not as an rate not rated per se. I mean, like, so when you walk into a shop, things like to buy anything basically, that’s not your bread or milk. Usually the cheapest price you’ll see is 39,99.

So that’s become like what will then call us the new dollar basically, that’s the new $1, the new five, watch what used to cost $1 or $2 is now 40 bond. So if you have 100 bond, you can come out with two things. Right? If you have 500 bonds, you can come up with five things. So now, you’re constantly looking at different ways to supplement right. So we’ve managed to get her to a place where now she’s able to afford to rent one room. So on the weekends, he has some way to go home so she’s now got a place that she’s calling her own. But you have to supplement that because that 800 today by the end of the month, it’s not going to be worth much because everything has gone up. And she’s affected by everything she’s affected by the fuel increase because that means the price of combis and the public transport goes up. That means the price of food will then go up. Every time fuel goes up, food in the shops goes up, everything goes up once fuel goes up, so you can’t say oh, well you know, she’s got no you know, it’s not like she’s driving it’s like well, it’s she’s still affected because the cost of fuel, so you’ll have to supplement so it’s like okay, here’s your salary, I know it’s not enough. And then maybe you’ll top up with some groceries for home, buy school uniforms, you know, for the kids because she can’t afford to, school uniform bill for her alone for one uniform one uniform set for each of her child came up to 80 US dollars. That’s a shirt, short, socks and a jersey to 40 US for each child 80 where, where is you’re going to get that money from, so you have to do it and people like no but you shouldn’t. And it’s become our culture where you want to pay someone as little as possible because it’s like a well, you know, but survival. What about me? And what about my kids? That same money, it just means, okay, this month you’re not maybe you know, buying takeout, that same amount of money that you would have paid for takeout in a month. If you add it all out. All up. If you go out every weekend, and you add up how much money you’ve spent every time you go up, I am sure it will actually hit that 80 US dollar mark. So instead of going out every weekend, take care of the person who’s taking care of your household because if that person’s not there, who’s going to look after you who’s going to look after your children, who’s going to make sure your house is clean when you’re out at work? And there’s a sense of those who are employed have a way of oppressing others. It’s almost like we’ve gone back to the way our colonialists, you know, operated. That’s how they operated. Yeah, when they came and colonized us, that’s exactly what they did. And now when you come into good fortune, you go right back to that weird cycle. I’ll pay you the bare minimum, the bare bare minimum. So that you know because you are lower than me and you just clean the floors. Well, and it’s become a cultures. It’s disgusting to see really because that’s not who we are as a people, we look after each other, that’s what you should do. 8 US dollars is nothing and if you’re paying that and you’re feeling proud of yourself because of that, and that, you know, it’s not something to be proud of. It’s not, it’s unfair. It’s, as you know, Hunhu that’s what we say Hunhu that’s the Shona word for Ubuntu, it has got no no culture in it. It’s uncultured. It’s uncouth, it’s almost savage behavior. That’s not how we operate as a people, you know, if you have wealth, you are supposed to build a bigger table not a higher wall.


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Anita Posch
So let’s talk a little bit about the positive sides. You’ve got a great country and I think the rain I think is a problem at the moment. There’s not enough water.

Teacher and Digipreneur
Yeah, it’s the rainy season came late. Very late. Yeah.

Anita Posch
Do you see any chances that I mean Zimbabwe was once the breadbasket exporting food to other countries and now you’re importing everything basically. Do you think there is a way back?

Teacher and Digipreneur
Absolutely I, I believe very strongly in that. Our biggest and most valuable resource right now actually is our people. I think it’s fair to say Zimbabweans are some of the most resilient people in the world. Put a Zimbabwean anywhere, and they are most likely to be very successful or to make a big impact on whatever community that they have joined. The current people that we have the current brain power that exists, I don’t think we’ve actually had a stronger generation intellectually than we currently have right now. Our millennials, for lack of a better term are very, very bright and passionate. But I feel like it’s currently, the slightly younger than the born frees have so much going for them. And I would accredit a big chunk of that to that we have more access to information than any other generation before us. The digital age, this fourth industrial revolution has allowed us to be a lot smarter. I mean, we’ve got our children are all already know how to use tablets and cell phones. And we have access to information at our fingertips and we know how to use the tech. And so because we know how to use the tech and we’ve grown up in the space, we’re very eager to see change and so we can grow, but only by doing things differently. This is where we’re struggling. Right now as a country, because I feel like there’s this huge generational gap. It’s it’s a gap where we have a group of people, right the baby boomers. I don’t know the group after baby boomers I always forget. Yeah. Sorry, group after baby boomers,

Anita Posch
that’s my group.

Teacher and Digipreneur
Wow, I’m sorry.

Anita Posch
I’m not a baby boomer.

Teacher and Digipreneur
Yeah, so after the boomer Yeah. Basically 50 and above, basically, sorry,

Anita Posch
No not above yet.

Teacher and Digipreneur
Okay, good space to be in. They, they’re so used to doing things a certain way. And the adoption of new ways of thinking, new ways of doing things, even utilizing things like tech, but also just new ways of thinking. It’s very hard to get them to sort of adopt that. But then you have this crop that’s like 50 and below basically almost 40 and below actually pegged at 40 and below. Because like 40 and 50 is a bit of a grey area here in Zimbabwe, like use goes up to like what 45? Nuts? I think until 50. Yes, young here still very youthful here. But like you, you have this group that’s key on doing things differently. And that’s got the tools and the know how, and that are trying to infiltrate. That sounds very dark, this could get me followed at night. But like trying to assist in improving the way we do things, but we’re very stuck in an archaic way of functioning. I mean, we’d like to talk of E-governance but go as far as even just the National Archives, for example, it’s paper. You know, even if you go into the computer, it’s not much that’s been posted in a lot of it is still hard copy. A lot of companies function like that, where they’ve got piles and piles and rooms and rooms full of paper. And that’s where our information our data is stored. I feel like the key to Zimbabwe turnaround is actually in data. I asked a question to the Ministry of Energy and I said, with our energy crisis, we obviously need to harness alternate sources of power. But does the ministry know right now, how many people own generators? Do we know that figure? How many people own generators and how many people own inverters? Because just that little number alone, those figures alone can help us figure out how to create an alternate power source that feeds back into the grid. But how do you know how much power we can generate? If we don’t know how many people have alternate sources? How many people have solar? How many people have? We don’t you don’t have this information. I feel like if we just took time to gather data, data is what is required to turn Zimbabwe around. I deeply believe this. And I feel like I will be proven right, maybe many years from now. But I feel like if you just have the right information, quality data, you know, not like, knowing how many generators or how many solar packages are imported into the country is not useful. Knowing how many people have actually acquired those things, and how many how much power we can generate. If all your excess power feeded it back to the grid, you’ll find that we might even have a surplus where we start paying people you know, to produce power because it’s too much when we now have to start sharing our power with everybody else with South Africa …., why not with our own alternate energy? So I feel like little things applies everywhere.

You know, like, how many Zimbabweans have medical aid. How many Zimbabweans have ever been in hospital like, little bits of information like that can feed so much into solutions because a lot of the current solutions are very data heavy. You need knowledge in order to turn things around. I feel like it is quite possible, especially things like agriculture agriculture sector has always held our economy. Basically, agriculture has always been a cornerstone of our economy. Mining as well but agriculture more than mining even. We’re now trying to put a lot of emphasis on mining things like our lithium belts, and because lithium is required in the special batteries, we shouldn’t even be thinking that far. How do we utilize the gold that we have? Zimbabwe hasn’t run out of gold, gold is still very valuable. How do we, how do we utilize the resources we currently have before we’re trying to find the new buzzword, the new, the new, next best mineral, because they’ll always be a new next best, you know, but at the end of the day, gold often backs up a currency, the currency is backed by bullion, right?

Anita Posch
There are no more currencies that are backed by gold worldwide.

Teacher and Digipreneur
But I’m saying if we go back, you see this

Anita Posch
That is what Bitcoin is about.

Teacher and Digipreneur
This is true. I now have nothing left to say. Thank you so much for this interview. It was great.

We are currently in hyperinflation, I believe so maybe an economist will tell me I’m wrong. But from the conversations I’ve been in both formal and informal around our economic forecast. I mean, we were told in I think it was in December, I had a, very well known economics professor, who did basically an assessment of our budget, our national budget, as well as what it implies and what this means for our economy going forward. And he basically was like, oh, look, this budget really is actually useless. Sorry, government. Yeah, because inflation is going to make these figures irrelevant. So we’re running against this clock where, we we can’t seem to control inflation. And the moment you can’t control inflation, it doesn’t matter what other measures you put in place. Look at how we’re taxed. We have regressive taxation. Regressive taxation is when you tax spending, the moment you start taxing spending, everyone spends so you’re constantly taxing people that that is a sign of a failing economy, regressive taxation is not positive. And so once you do that, you you already put yourself in this tight spot. So now it’s like, I feel like we’re living hand to mouth as a country. Like whatever money we get in that day from taxing everybody on what they’ve spent. You tax regressively meaning that all the prices then go up, meaning that you have to spend more, but then now you can afford to spend more and as dangerous cycle of prices constantly going up because the shops have to be prices up because they’re getting taxed. So me as a shopper, I get taxed when I bought purchase, the shop gets taxed. So they then have to put tax upon tax, and then they put their tax. So when you swipe, you get taxed by the shop, then you get taxed by the bank. We get taxed by the country, right, then you get taxed by the bank. Three sets of taxes that hit you when you pay.

Anita Posch
Do you think that if the narrative of Bitcoin would change, could it be of any help you know, supporting the country or the people, the community. Do you think there is a way I mean, I imagine one problem is liquidity so you don’t have much Bitcoin here. Nobody takes it. People want it maybe to hold it or because you can exchange it to USD

Teacher and Digipreneur
Yes.

Anita Posch
What’s your opinion on the future of Bitcoin here?

Teacher and Digipreneur
The future of Bitcoin in Zimbabwe, my question always becomes, can I pay my rent with my Bitcoin? Can I go into a shop and buy my food with a Bitcoin? And those are the really basic needs of any person. Can I get on to public transport and be able to get from point A to point B? With my bitcoin. These are the questions that I asked even when we had an event focused on FinTech. And we had a really long discussion, like we stuck on to the topic of cryptocurrency for a long time. And of the people who had attended and these are just ordinary people. Those were the questions that cryptocurrency is great as an idea in a functioning economy where people can afford to choose that. It’s, it feels almost like a luxury. And it’s sad because I don’t think that’s what it’s supposed to be – no, but it was also bearing in mind cryptocurrency was designed in a functioning environment. It was designed by people who maybe haven’t spent 12 hours in a fuel queue?

Anita Posch
I guess so, yeah.

Teacher and Digipreneur
Oh, yeah, you know it.

Anita Posch
I think the basic problem I mean, the the problem of I can’t pay my rent in Bitcoin it’s the same in Europe, because people still don’t want to use it. They don’t trust it. It’s just digital. What is it? You know? So there’s no trust in this trustless system? Yeah. So I think the first thing that has to happen is that people gain trust and they can educate themselves and gain knowledge and there is a way to cash out. I mean, I’ve heard that if you have Bitcoin in Zimbabwe, you always find someone who buys it from you for USD. Really, yeah. And there’s also a possibility online for instance, there are platforms like bitrefill.com for instance, where you can send your bitcoin and they pay you out in airtime for Econet, or Telecel and Netone

Teacher and Digipreneur
Netone yes.

Anita Posch
One AND and OR you can buy gift cards, you know, we see. So I think there are ways around the system. So you could basically be if you’re a freelancer, for instance, and you’re doing web design, you could be paid from abroad in Bitcoin. And then if you want to hold it as an asset, you can hold it and on the other hand, you can cash it out here to USD. So there is a way we tried it.

Teacher and Digipreneur
There is a..Wow, really? I think making the process easier because it’s only going to benefit and I’m sorry to put it this way. And it’s really strange coming from me because I am all things tech and digital. But I feel like if it’s going to only be going to benefit those of us who live in cities, where in Harare and in Bulawayo if you live in a capital city where you know, you can get access to money and I, my parents, for example, live in a small town called small mining town called Chegutu. And if I send it to them, can they also find someone who’s in that small town who will buy it for them? Give it to them at all? It’s usually happens in the hubs, the state the capital,

Anita Posch
Yeah, but that’s the basic thing of this open source community money, because it’s not owned by anyone it has, it’s like a grassroot development and it has to go there first. So it’s, that’s the problem or not a problem. But yeah, in the challenge, the challenge in the adoption is that Bitcoin is not marketed by anyone. It has to find its way. So people have to realize its value, as a medium of exchange or as a store of value. And I think then they start using it. If it’s also easy to use and to understand. Yes, that’s, I think, also a main part, I have a friend and I see how even even though she’s so close to me, and I talked so much about Bitcoin for three years now, she still has never said, I want to set up a bitcoin wallet, because she says, it just has to get into my head before I want to understand it. And then I realize how difficult it is actually, again, yeah. And so I think basically, it will need time.

Teacher and Digipreneur
It needs time. I think it’s long term. I don’t think it can’t work. If at any point have suggested that it will never work in Zimbabwe. I stand to correct that. It will work and it can work. But I feel like there’s so many fundamentals that need to be fixed first, the cost of airtime to be able to log onto the cost of data alone, to be able to log on people. Just buy a WhatsApp bundle if I can set up if people can find a way to make Bitcoin work with WhatsApp so that I don’t have to have a whole new data bundle that I can afford to you know, or or to find a way to piggyback it in such a way that it doesn’t become an extra cost.

Anita Posch
What is a WhatsApp bundle?

Teacher and Digipreneur
Our data is packaged into bundles. Yeah, our mobile data even right now even our Wi Fi you buy bundles as well you can buy a bundle as well and your Wi Fi, although its general internet access, yeah. Okay, maybe I don’t certainly want to watch YouTube whatever, I will buy data that is specific that will only allow me to use WhatsApp. Or you have a social media bundle where you can access Facebook either like so they bundled, so WhatsApp is usually just WhatsApp on its own. You can then buy social media bundle. So sometimes it’s Facebook and Twitter, or Facebook and Instagram. Or Twitter only. And then you can buy WhatsApp or any and you’ll find most people’s use buying of data as always social media bundles its just for communication. The cost of normal data, which gives you general access to the internet is very expensive.

Anita Posch
We don’t have these bundles.

Teacher and Digipreneur
Now this is a culture here.

Anita Posch
Yeah, it’s interesting. Do people use the internet also, like www websites? Because I’ve heard in many countries people think that Facebook is the internet.

Teacher and Digipreneur
I mean for some. Yes. For some. I think I think here generally we do know the internet is you know, the World Wide Web. But what’s more affordable to just buy your social media bundle, communication bundle. So my own parents will not buy a standard data bundle, they will buy a social media bundle, they’ll buy a WhatsApp bundle. So if I send them a YouTube link, they can’t open it because I don’t have those bundles. They just have social media, which is WhatsApp bundles. It’s just to allow me to be able to talk to people, so people rely heavily on that. So that’s what I’m saying that if you don’t fully understand the way the country operates, and the people use data or internet trying to introduce something that means I’m going to have to spend how much on data in order to use this or there’s not just like a whatsapp group where like if someone can learn how to create a bot or a group whatever that allows you to set up a wallet through whatsapp – using the platforms that exist.

That’s why Libra was so interesting. I know Libra is not going to be coming to Zimbabwe. But Libra was a game changer.

Anita Posch
Yeah, I think Libra is also not coming to Europe or something. Because the governments, of course, don’t want it.

Teacher and Digipreneur
Yeah, no one wants it. You know, he’s fighting. He’s facing so much resistance. Libra is a game changer. Because especially in Africa, where you have things like social, we have limited data, we have limited access to the internet. Everybody has a Facebook account. And setting up a Facebook account is really easy. And every country has created especially in Africa, Southern Africa is create allowed you to be able to at least very least be able to access social media and WhatsApp.

Anita Posch
Short question, do you use Telegram here?

Teacher and Digipreneur
Yes. It’s not as popular.

Anita Posch
It’s not in a Social Media bundle.

Teacher and Digipreneur
No, it’s not, you’d need actual normal data.

Anita Posch
Okay, so if you want to reach many people, you have to use WhatsApp or Facebook?

Teacher and Digipreneur
Yeah. WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Yeah,

Anita Posch
Twitter is another company.

Teacher and Digipreneur
Okay, Snapchat for the younger guys. Tik Tok. That’s a very young ones. Yeah. So.


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Anita Posch
So you said Facebook Libra is a game changer.

Teacher and Digipreneur
I thought it was going to be a game changer. Like if it was gonna come here. When I heard about it, I got so excited. I was like, wow, that will change my life. But then I was like, so coming to Zimbabwe was like, okay, of course not. It’s not going to a lot of countries, of course not. And when you see the amount of resistance that Libra has faced, as when you realize that giving power back to the people I think is a global leadership concern. There is no government. I wouldn’t just say Zimbabwe

Anita Posch
I think it’s a difference between Facebook and Libra and Bitcoin is that Bitcoin is common good. And Facebook is facebook, facebook and these other corporations. Yeah. So, I mean, do you want to have all of your money owned basically by a private company?

Teacher and Digipreneur
No, of course not. Yeah, no one really and also so the privacy implications the privacy implications as well an issue I think what is attractive to it? Because there’s a lot of cons to it. The pros to it was accessibility. You just made access to money easier. It just makes it easier. You know, it’s like okay, I can say like, if Worldremit was a bank, basically, you know, like an online bank it’s like a PayPal I guess so of sorts. It being cryptocurrency. I think also the fact that people could maybe use the Bitcoin I think the one of the conversations I had with a group of geeks if I can call them that we call each other that geeks would sit down and say okay, well, if I can use my Bitcoin or what is it was at Onecoin all these other…

Anita Posch
Onecoin is a scam.

Teacher and Digipreneur
This is a scam no not onecoin. I’m sorry I watched a documentary about Onecoin. Yeah, very interesting but all these other cryptocurrencies and if I can transfer that and transfer it to Libra and I can get to, you know Venezuela or Yemen or wherever it needs to get to that’ll be you know cool was like yeah we’ll be cool yeah the Facebook is the big demon of stealing your privacy and it’s basically Facebook is like you know, huge pervert basically that’s just constantly spying on you and you know they know everything is creepy if I have a conversation with you right now you’ll probably see on Facebook I’ll start seeing ads about cryptocurrency and as you know this, you creepy people like so. I mean, it is kind of scary, but I think the interest comes from a place of alternatives. We don’t really have freedom of choice. Yeah, in terms of how what money to use and How to use it here. It’s really USD or Zim dollar. That’s all that really has power here. Rand, if you’re going in the south, they don’t even really want to see US dollar they would rather have Rands. This is such a difficult conversation. It’s exciting, but it’s difficult because yeah, accessibility, accessibility, ease of use – half the time you don’t have power. This is why I always keep saying like, how do I get that Bitcoin out? Which is what everyone wants, like, if you come here will say, but okay, how do I touch it? How do I use it for something? You know, and will it cost me more to use that Bitcoin? And if you look at it, it will because one, you need a normal data bundle. That’s the thing. Yeah. Which is a lot of money and not everyone can afford a normal data bundle?

Anita Posch
So there should be basically an integration into Telegram or WhatsApp for instance. Yes. Or in Facebook. That’s an interesting question, because I’m sure there are developers who can think a way around that maybe.

Teacher and Digipreneur
How do you get it to the people through their avenues? Okay, you want to bring it here? Great. But you need to learn how we function.

Anita Posch
Yes. Do you when you use ecocash? For instance, you need to have a phone? Yes. And what is the minimum plan that you are required? Do you need internet or airtime?

Teacher and Digipreneur
None? None? None. You just need a SIM card.

Anita Posch
Okay, that’s the way how it works, because people wouldn’t be able to afford that. Yes.

Teacher and Digipreneur
Okay. So as long as you have a phone and your phone doesn’t even have to have access to the internet, you don’t even have to have air time in order to set up an EcoCash or to receive money through EcoCash the only you just need your phone just needs to be on. Understand. That’s it.

Anita Posch
Okay, so that’s a small hurdle. Yeah. Yeah, that can be taken by everybody. But yeah, basically, as soon as you have an old mobile phone, because you don’t even need a new one on a smartphone, No, you don’t.

Teacher and Digipreneur
This is why it was so successful. And this is why it’s also sort of become a little bit of a demon as well because when EcoCash goes down, everybody suffers for it.

Anita Posch
So basically, you would need free internet here.

Teacher and Digipreneur
Yes. Which we are very far away from.

Anita Posch
I’m not sure I mean, Elon Musk is working on this Starlink project. And it would be great if he would bring internet here, free internet.

Teacher and Digipreneur
It would be amazing. It would be a game changer. It would change everything. If something like that could happen. Goodness me. It would, a lot of the problems we are talking about right now, like we would have smartphones all over the place, like everything would change. If that was, you know, the case. It’s also difficult, you know, to see how that would work. How do you access it? Is there a way for the country to decide we don’t like this thing?

Anita Posch
I don’t think that I’m not sure if they can shut it down. I don’t think so.

Teacher and Digipreneur
Block access to, we don’t like this free internet thing. So we’re gonna, is there a way to create a cover over the country where no phone can catch this network? Like, you know, it’s people and you have to think about these things. Because like, that’s how governments think across the world. For every positive thing that comes out. How do we control this?

Anita Posch
Basically, Zimbabwe would be a great country for these developers to live in for a time to get to learn the hurdles here, because then you can overcome any hurdle in every country. I think yes, I think so, actually a good idea –

Teacher and Digipreneur
it’s Zim or Venezuela one of those two. But yeah, I feel like it’s, and I say this again, with all due respect, and candidly, it’s great to want to, to come up with an idea and hope that it will revolutionize the world and save the world. But you can’t apply a global north mindset to a global south problem or a global south mindset. The way things function down here is very different from how things will function in the US or in Europe or in the UK, wherever you are in the world. So there has to be a conscious thinking I know there’s no like one person that particularly owns or, you know, like, directs how Bitcoin is going to function. But if you’re a Bitcoin developer, if you’re a developer, whatever, to take time to contextualize, and it’s not a one size fits all, it could work, but it may not work the way you think it will. The same way I always say the fourth industrial revolution in Africa is going to be, it’s going to look very different from what it looks like, in the US, for example, the way we do things and the way we think and our cultural values will, will shape our future differently. We might not have flying cars. Maybe our entire system, maybe our futures underground, we don’t know because our values are different. Did that I mean, like, our climate is different. Did I mean like, everything is different. So Western, a Western, so or a foreign solution to any nation and African solution. If I come up with a solution like I’m gonna go to save Australia, you know, it might not work there I have to spend time that I have to understand that climate I have to understand that market and I have to design it according to the needs of the people. Do we really need flying cars? No. Maybe we need , maybe we need roads that move on their own and just get us from point A to point we you know, you don’t you don’t know that until you’ve lived you know, a life I could call you an honorary Zimbabwean now only because you’ve lived you know what it’s like to drive and have to avoid. You know, they say drunk people in Zimbabwe if you want to tell if a person’s drunk, they drive straight.

Anita Posch
That’s great because the last time we were driving at night, and only in town and I thought to myself, it looks like drunk driving, but actually it’s exactly the way people drive straight they are drunk Yes. So under everything yeah, I see what you mean. Yeah. And there has been awful lots and lots and lots of money from abroad that has been sunken here because people thought we do it like we do it in Europe, or in the US. And we are more clever than the people here. Yes. Yeah. We’re more advanced. Yeah, be more advanced. If we show them how it works. Yes,

Teacher and Digipreneur
yes. But then it would not trying to explain that to my elders. They’re like, no. And then you wonder why and you’ve sunk so much money. You wonder why it didn’t work. For this, that’s because there needs to be a culture of collaboration. I think. I think I can I can push that again. Which brings us back to: Ubuntu. we have to work together. Yeah, it can’t come from the Savior complex. can’t save us. You have to help us save ourselves.

Anita Posch
Yeah, but how could we do that? What would you expect or What would you say to bitcoiners in the world? That could make a difference? What should we do? How could we support you?

Teacher and Digipreneur
Collaborate.

Anita Posch
So come here seek out developers or, or people who know things, learn from them economists Yes. and accessibility, like, come here and design a wallet with you together, for instance, yes. Because you know, it only works with WhatsApp or Telegram or

Teacher and Digipreneur
Take time to like, and it’s an excellent solutions, a brilliant product, but it might not work the way you think it will or you would even like it to maybe even think that way. I think there has to be, you know, less assumption. You know, don’t assume you all have, you know, normal access to the internet. We only have social media. You know, like this social media bundles Really? Yes. How many people use normal internet? How many people have access to Wi Fi? How many people use have Wi Fi in their homes? Cost of Wi Fi is ridiculous. A lot of people, but it’ll Okay. How many of those people like actually buy like an unlimited bundle? A lot of us are limited on limited packages. You need 1000 bond 1000 Zim dollars or some, it’s not called bond anymore. A thousands of dollars for that’s not even unlimited. There’s like 150 gigabyte package for the average person who’s maybe earning 2.5 or three grand for still a lot of money. So there needs to be run away from assumption if you are a person and you like I can come and save you. Thank you for wanting to come and save us. Come and come and help us think for ourselves. Show us options. Zimbabweans, we love to learn. We’ve lost our culture of learning. We’re very educated. But we love to learn, you know, and we catch on things very quickly. But it’s also like have the same way I won’t walk into your house and assume that you cook the same way or that you have the same diet as me, the same sensitivity you have towards veganism. And all this stuff is the same sensitivity you need to have towards solving any kind of world problem or social economic problems, the same sensitivity, never assume that things work the same, or people think the same.

Anita Posch
And that’s the point where you need diversity in people, you know, like, have different sets of people if I can say it that way, with different experiences from different countries, continents with different living life backgrounds and stuff, to work together on these things. I mean, to be honest Bitcoin is a very white, very male space.

Teacher and Digipreneur
Hmm, that just that just turned me off.

Anita Posch
I completely understand that I completely understand that. And I hope that more and meet more people come in. And also, the black community in the US, for instance is very small into bitcoin. So there’s the first book written now by a guy about black America, Bitcoin, black America, something like that. Yeah. And I would wish for more people from different aspects and ethnic backgrounds and everything here that also be a part of this community. Because it’s a community. It should be one. Yeah, yeah. And I like this community. And but I want to grow. Yeah. Yeah, for the sake of the possibilities you have with it to have permissionless uncensored, uninflated, open source, platform money. Yeah,

Teacher and Digipreneur
That sounds exciting, just because of you or I started like, like I said, I watched the documentary about Onecoin. I think I’m going to take. I’ve had so many conversations about Bitcoin in this country, but yours has been the most enlightening. It’s been very enlightening. And it’s the first time I’ve been curious. I google searched bitcoin wallet for the first time ever, ever since hearing about it, like, so how do I do it? You know, like, it’s, it’s, it’s triggered a thought, and I’m grateful for that. I’m grateful for the conversation. I think if I can add another thing as to what people can do, increase the conversation, at least at the very least, even if you can’t create a solution immediately. Find a way to get us to stop talking about it, whether it’s holding workshops, and I don’t mean in Harare or in Bulawayo, in the in the capitals where we have all the facilities go and do it under a tree in Binga and have someone who is there who can translate into the local language and have a conversation. We need to start having more conversations about the future with the people who are actually affected by the future.

Anita Posch
Yes, thank you very much. That was also for me very, very interesting and very grateful. I’ve learned so much here in this time here in this country. Thank you because I also had had so many assumptions of course, no, because you only learn when you’re really here.

Teacher and Digipreneur
Yeah. You experience it and yeah, exactly. Okay.

Anita Posch
It’s a difference to understand and know that you have water shortages, no electricity. It’s a difference to be here and to feel it. Yeah. Yeah.

Teacher and Digipreneur
Can I just say, please visit Zimbabwe. If you’re listening to this, like, don’t let this conversation scare you. We’re really awesome. And our country is beautiful. Definitely. And we have so much work to do. Like we have all these terrible things. But there’s a really young group of people. There’s a movement right now. There’s a very strong movement right now if you can tap into it, of young Zimbabweans who are desperately trying to find the good like you said, like, there’s all these bad we’re desperately trying to find the good and to build on it and who are genuinely trying to do their best to create an experience that’s not only just honest and that okay, hey, we’re gonna have a candlelit dinner because there’s actually no power but who, who have the values of Zimbabwe at heart. Zimbabwe is not our government. So, you know, Zimbabwe is the people that live in it. And we have a lot to give. It may not be much in the greater scheme of the world, but you know, we wanna – come and have a braii with us, you know, and let’s cook on the fire because it’s nosy to cook on the stove. You know, like whoever’s listening, please visit Zim. If I can just be an ambassador. If you don’t mind me, just marketing my country, we are beautiful. We have more than the Victoria Falls. We have way more than the Victoria Falls. It’s like, very awesome. And our people are funny. And we like to laugh. And we’re awesome.

Anita Posch
And you’re so kind and open here. That’s great. Really. Yeah. Thank you. So thank you very much. All the best to you. Same to you. Bye bye

That was today’s episode. If you like my show please subscribe to it in your favorite podcast player and share the episode on social media.

If you are a german speaker and want to start using bitcoin, then I recommend my book to you – it gives you a comprehensive jump start into becoming a bitcoin user, with recommendations and safety tips. You can buy it on Amazon or if you prefer to pay with bitcoin and lightning drop me a message at hello (at) anitaposch.com.

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Thanks for listening.

Credits:
Image by: Martina Gruber Photography
Edited by CoinDesk’s Podcasts Editor: Adam B. Levine
Idea, content and production: Anita Posch
Music: “Start with yes” by Delicate beats

Other relevant episodes

Part 1 Zimbabwe: Ideal Conditions for Bitcoin?
Part 2 Zimbabwe: Living in a Multi-Currency World
Part 3 Using Bitcoin in Zimbabwe
Part 4 If Bitcoin Works in Zimbabwe, It Works Everywhere
Part 5 Afriblocks a Pan-African Network for Remote Jobs & Answering Questions

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1 Comment

  1. Tina10. April 2020

    I am really happy to find these podcasts about Zimbabwe. Currently, I writing my master thesis about cryptocurrencies and the everyday usage of them in developing countries. Zimbabwe is one of the key research points and I am honestly happy to have the possibility to use these podcast with the permission of Miss Anita Posch. This is such a rare opportunity for finding such deep and well-organized interviews in developing countries. I honestly believe this will help a lot to innovate and support the people in developing countries. Thank you so much!

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