From 25-26 November, members of the global Bitcoin community will gather at the University of Botswana for the inaugural Botswana Blockchain Summit. Conference Founders, Alakanani Itireleng of Satoshicentre and Kesego Tumisang of Google Developers Group of Gaborone, aim to educate attendees on Bitcoin and blockchain technology with local and international speakers.
An Interview with Botswana BitcoinLady Alakanani Itireleng
I had the privilege of interviewing Alakanani Itireleng to share more about her background, and how she first got involved in Bitcoin and blockchain technology. Alakanani is typically known as BitcoinLady and the woman who is taking steps to bring Bitcoin to Botswana.
EM: How and when did you first learn about Bitcoin?
AI: I believe I first heard about Bitcoin in early 2012 after an online search for ways in which one can make money working online. I was intrigued by the value of bitcoin, and I thought if I can work and earn bitcoin, my family and I would be able to raise enough money for our son’s heart and lung transplant. My boy had Hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy, and they said his heart was deformed and he had what they called Noonan syndrome. I only fell from one scam to another and really never made any bitcoin and eventually I lost my son. I stopped working online and stopped trying to earn bitcoin. However, a seed was planted in my head, and something about this Bitcoin thing made me want to follow it and learn more.
In 2013, I started to fully research and read more about Bitcoin, and I thought that this is something I can teach my fellow countrymen and women, so I started organizing meetups to teach people about Bitcoin. I have never stopped since then.
EM: What does the Bitcoin ecosystem look like in Botswana?
AI: We are slowly catching up. It has been a slow process, but today we have businesses that accept bitcoin, such as the digital marketing company, Bitbrandsbw. We also have an increased number of people who come to our business to consult on bitcoin.
EM: How can someone buy and sell bitcoin in Botswana?
AI: We are working on having our exchange, Eepah Exchange, up and running during the Botswana Blockchain Summit, and we also have EzyRemit which will be operating alongside the Eepah exchange.
EM: Can you share about some local Bitcoin and blockchain projects?
AI: We are working on two projects for now. One is a pilot project for a pick and drop card for preschool children and a blockchain identity card which we hope can be used by many companies in Botswana. We will also be running a Bitland project starting this year, and we hope we will have more projects designed by our local developers as well.
EM: How has the government of Botswana viewed Bitcoin?
AI: So far we have not heard anything from the Government of Botswana on bitcoin, so I am hoping this summit will help us educate and start the dialogue with the government. This summit is an opportunity for government officials to ask questions and have their questions answered.
EM: Can you share more about the goals of your upcoming Blockchain Summit on November 25th-26th?
AI: The aim is to simply open Botswana to the opportunity that Bitcoin and the blockchain technology can bring to the country. This is a time to have all questions answered. This is also a time for attendees to separate Bitcoin from MLM schemes and all these other schemes that make people unclear of what bitcoin is and what it is not. We also see this as a time for developers to be given an opportunity to think through solutions to our everyday problems in Africa and how the blockchain can come in handy.
EM: What are you passionate about with Bitcoin?
AI: This technology is amazing, and it is a tool that can be used to liberate an ordinary African and give the unbanked an opportunity to have something they can use to manage their finances without having to go through a lot of paperwork and be dismissed for not having a bank account.
Do you think Africa is ready for bitcoin? What do you think will be the results of the Botswana Blockchain Summit? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Botswana Blockchain Summit, Twitter, Pixabay, YouTube Satoshi Pollen
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