Ethiopia Embraces Crypto In Massive Shift From Ban Era


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Ethiopia, Africa’s second-most populous nation with over 123 million people, has undergone a noteworthy transformation with regard to cryptocurrencies. Initially, the government placed a blanket ban on crypto but recent development reveals a historic shift.

Notably, the country is currently attracting Bitcoin miners and blockchain technology is assisting Ethiopia check fraud in the education sector. The country is also exploring its use in mobile money, thanks to fintech firms like M-PESA which allows online merchants to trade crypto and stablecoin on exchanges such as Binance.

Ethiopia’s Blockchain Initiatives in Education and Beyond

Interestingly, Ethiopia’s interest in blockchain technology extends beyond the borders of crypto as the country has initiated projects to explore its applications in sectors like supply chain management and land registration.

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A notable initiative is Ethiopia’s collaboration with Input Output Global (IOG) to implement a blockchain-based digital identity program in over 3,000 schools. The partnership aims to combat fraud in education by securely digitizing and verifying academic credentials.

Attracting Bitcoin Miners with Renewable Energy

Furthermore, Ethiopia’s conditions favor crypto as it has abundant and affordable electricity primarily sourced from renewable energy. This is a huge attraction to Bitcoin miners seeking to make it a hub of mining companies.

In February, Ethiopian Investment Holdings (EIH) signed a substantial agreement with Hong Kong-based West Data Group’s Center Service PLC to launch Bitcoin mining operations and construct a large data center for managing crypto mining and AI training activities.

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Ethiopia Crypto Regulatory Evolution

However, all these were not possible two years ago due to government policy. In June 2022, the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) declared cryptocurrency trading illegal within the country. The central bank emphasized that the Ethiopian Birr remains the sole legal tender, warning of legal consequences for any transactions conducted using cryptocurrencies.

At the time, NBE justified its position stating that the lack of regulatory oversight surrounding digital assets made it prone to money laundering risks. Additionally, it claimed crypto could result in financial instability.

The Ethiopian government however shifted its strategy about two months ago as it mandated all cryptocurrency operators register with the Information Network Security Agency (INSA). According to the agency, it was to cater to the growing interest among individuals and entities in offering crypto-related services, including mining and transfers.

Despite the lack of clear legislation by the Ethiopian government permitting widespread use of cryptocurrencies, there has been a noticeable uptick in crypto adoption within the country. Available statistics show that over 1.8 million users are active in the country.

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