The world of blockchain and cryptocurrency to a layman can sometimes be very difficult to navigate. In this part of our world, blockchain is still an emerging technology as a large part of it hasn’t been yet been thoroughly explored.
The challenges that come with understanding blockchain and cryptocurrency in many parts of Africa may just be a result of language discrepancies.
The question that comes to mind is, how can these technology concepts be made simple and easy for some people on the African continent to conveniently learn blockchain and cryptocurrency in their indigenous languages?
Bitkova Academy, a Nigerian-based institute is democratizing the knowledge of blockchain and cryptocurrency for Hausa Language speakers.
In this chat with Mahmoud Muhammad Sardauna, the Chief Executive Officer of Bitkova Academy, we learnt about how the school is simplifying blockchain and crypto learning in Nigeria.
Mahmoud’s passion for technology started as an undergraduate of Electrical Engineering in the University of Technology, Yola, and he was so keen on telecommunications that he took up his second degree in it rather than taking further his undergraduate course.
With his many interests in the world of technology, he found himself in cryptocurrency space, specifically bitcoin and that is what according to him gave him the final push into the world of technology.
How it all started
Mahmoud started as a freelancer around 2014, exploring various skills in copywriting, digital content creation and graphic design.
While he was on this, he met a client who gave him administrative access to manage his forum, and it was while Mahmoud was working on this forum that he came across a pdf file about cryptocurrency and it was from here that he took up an interest in learning the new technology.
In his early days in cryptocurrency during his NYSC program, he came across Lucky Uwakwe of Saabi Exchange, and fortunate enough for Mahmoud, Lucky’s training centre was in his Place of Primary Assignment (PPA) at Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ABTU).
From there, both Mahmoud and Lucky started running a couple of meetups about cryptocurrency until the end of Mahmoud’s service year.
As at that point, Mahmoud was already buying and selling in cryptocurrency while he kept on advancing his knowledge base.
By that time, people around him started showing interest in cryptocurrency, however, for Mahmoud the growing interest began to become a burden for him as he had to keep explaining about the technology.
It was also around that time, that there was a global crypto boom and with so much media coverage on the technology, Mahmoud continued to receive calls on what cryptocurrency is.
Prior to this, Mahmoud and some other crypto enthusiasts have been operating without any defined groups, thus this development led him to join a community of Hausa speakers on WhatsApp.
The group however was inactive for another four to six months until Muhammed started posting about cryptocurrency on the group which now saw the number of participants increase from 30 to 150.
As the numbers continue to increase and with a need to explore more features, the WhatsApp group moved over to Telegram, increasing the number from 150 to around 1100.
Mahmoud encouraged members of the group with his tutorials on the basics of crypto as some of them weren’t willing to learn the basics.
“You know, most of the times beginners, actually run away from the real knowledge of crypto in thinking that if, if I can just double my hands on make 5% 10% profit, why should I waste my time learning the whole process.”
So with a lot of Initial Coin Offering during that period a lot of people were making money as explained by Mahmoud, thus more content was created and shared on the group for the participants to get more value.
Mahmoud admitted that even at that time, he didn’t have a full grasp of cryptocurrency and every other related concern, thus he had to study more about the technology and within one month he had mastered the arts.
Around 2019, when the market started to recover again, there was an influx of people who were willing to teach others about crypto.
Mahmoud met Lawrence Dou who helped him in creating the academy which was birthed in 2018, however, the actual project kick-started in 2019 after the initial crypto boom.
Bitkova Academy in Northern Nigeria
Mahmoud highlighted three points on this. As explained by him, people perceived cryptocurrency to be a mirage, however, with the advent of Bitkova academy, a lot of people in the North are now getting their hands around cryptocurrency.
“We are like an organized family, right now we have a team, we have active participation in Adamawa, Gombe, Kano, Abuja, Kaduna and recently we have members in Taraba”
Bitkova Academy is changing the mindset of people that crypto is a scam, thus according to Mahmoud the academy is putting a face to crypto as it is not just about buying and selling but also about knowledge.
“So with the advent of Bitkova Academy, cryptocurrency now has a face in the northern part of the country.”
Secondly, people now have the mindset that cryptocurrency can actually be learnt and that there is no such thing as just waking up and pumping money into crypto.
“But actually, through the Academy, we’re able to transform these mindsets and losses into profits.”
Thirdly, Bitkova Academy has helped in poverty alleviation, according to Muhammed a lot of people that took the course, actually have found a new way to earn money online.
Thirdly, poverty alleviation, because a lot of people that actually took the course, actually have found a new way to earn money online.
“I’m not saying that they are making millions. Again, what I’m saying is that they are actually out of poverty because for someone who can make profit, no matter how little at least you have saved that particular person guy from engaging in illegal activities.”
Expansion plans and partnerships
Mahmoud decried the lack of funding as a major limitation to Bitkova’s academy expansion to other regions of Nigeria.
As explained by him, a lot of people are scared of investing in fintech-related organizations to start it from the onset unless you can get someone who is actually knowledgeable enough about crypto.
Concerning partnership, Mahmoud mentioned that one of the reasons he launched Bitkova Academy in 2019 is the belief that the Nigerian government will one day seek blockchain educators that will inform Nigerians about this technology.
“I wanted to create an image that whenever someone heard of the word crypto education, the first thing that will come to their mind is Bitkova Academy”
Bitkova Academy also looks forward to building its own mobile application so as to put all its courses online as so far, the academy’s courses have been at a physical gathering.
Beyond just blockchain and cryptocurrency, Bitkova academy also intends to add other digital courses into its mobile application while also ensuring that payments can be made through tokens specifically created for the mobile app rather than a fiat currency.
Blockchain and crypto future in Nigeria
Mahmoud said, the most thing for change or adoption is education, which means education before adoption.
He believes that with proper education channeled to the necessary government bodies, there won’t be challenges in getting the government relating to crypto.
Mahmoud illustrated his point, using SiBAN’s position with the CBN to buttress his point. As SiBAN adds its input in the apex bank regulatory process, thus there is a need to have a unified body that will be responsible for reaching out to the government.
He further mentioned the need for more educational content. Illustrating this, Mahmoud gave an instance of a certain Silas who is building an application similar to Bitkova that will work in six languages – Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa, Swahili, English and Spanish.
“So with that project like this can actually help people because if you can have the information at your fingertips So once they know any source where they can get information about these particular things, they will be willing to learn about it”
People will actually resist what they don’t understand, as explained by Mahmoud, China fought cryptocurrency initially, but now they are creating their own CBDC.
The same occurs for Nigeria, if the government understands cryptocurrency genuinely through proper education, then it would be easier to get them to formulate a more friendly regulation that will assist the whole ecosystem and from there, we can start building something greater.
Featured Image: Mahmoud Muhammad Sardauna with Blockchain and Crypto Enthusiasts at Bitkova Academy
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