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Women in Africa are shaping Web3

Written by Editor

August 1, 2023

How Web3 and the metaverse are empowering women in Africa

By Sandy Carter, COO and Head of Business Development at Unstoppable Domains

Web3 has proven to be a powerful agent for change in parts of the world that are historically underrepresented in the banking system. Africa, in particular, has proven to be in a powerful position to both adopt and evolve Web3 and the Metaverse. Women in sub-Saharan Africa stand to benefit the most from Web3, as only 37% have access to a bank account, compared to 48% of men. Unfortunately, this discrepancy has only been growing, highlighting the need for change.

Across the continent, financial growth has been decelerating, mainly due to the broader global economic slowdown and inflation. While these obstacles only exacerbate the challenges women face in the continent, they also make Africa poised for decentralised asset adoption. Already, Africa as a whole has shown massive acceptance of crypto currency in recent years, with a significant 1 200% increase in these types of payments between 2020 and 2021. As of September 2021, African crypto holders had amassed $80-million worth of assets, more than their US counterparts. Nigeria alone is home to the world’s second-largest Bitcoin market, an impressive fact unto itself.

There’s also the fact that there’s no shortage of optimistic Web3 news coming out of Africa. Multiple partnerships and collaborations bring payment services and identity products to the continent. These developments highlight that there is capital flowing into the African crypto industry, bolstering the region’s potential for growth.

 

Bringing The Benefits of Crypto To Women In Africa

Crypto currency was created with the goal of disrupting an unfair global financial system and literally “banking the unbanked.” The whole ethos of this technology was to empower people everywhere to take control of their finances, careers, and lives. Web3 eliminates the need for permission to create a wallet or begin accepting payments, allowing for more freedom, such as the ability to open businesses. This is especially important in sub-Saharan Africa, where women represent only 25% of entrepreneurs. Web3 services and assets stand to boost that rate significantly.

In addition, Web3 technology extends far beyond the realm of currency and can offer women complete control of their digital identity. As outlined in a report by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, one major obstacle preventing African women from accessing banking services is a lack of formal identification. Access to a digital ID on the blockchain would give them the tools to manage their own money and data personally, securing their profile and giving them complete agency to be a part of the global economy.

Spreading education and access

While there exist many tangible benefits and opportunities that Web3 can bring to African women, it won’t matter until more of them are brought into the space. Less than 5% of all crypto currency companies were founded by a woman; of those, they all have at least one male co-founder. Changing this statistic is going to require access and education. The good news is that smartphones are projected to have a 61% saturation in sub-Saharan Africa by 2025, meaning the basic tools are becoming more available to women than ever before.

This is a good start and means the door is open for women to get involved. The next step is spreading awareness of the technology and information on how to get started. Fortunately, there are programmes that can help here as well. For example, Unstoppable Women of Web3, an organisation dedicated to spreading education and enhancing diversity in Web3, recently announced a five-year commitment to provide Web3 and Metaverse education for six million women in Africa. This stands to be a powerful push to bring a new wave of women into the crypto space and help spread the benefits of decentralised technology to the people who need it the most.

There’s also the support that Binance has provided by contributing more than $2-million to help women in more than ten countries across the globe, including Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa. This money allows the recipients to spread education and mentoring programs specifically designed to bring women into Web3. Ethereum scaling solution Polygon is also encouraging more developers to get stuck in – having organised an educational boot camp and hack-a-thon to put developers in Africa on the Web3 map. 

 

The Shift Is Already Beginning

It gets better, as there are already multiple important, innovative programmes that are designed to lead the growth of the blockchain industry in Africa and specifically to empower women. This shows real traction among the community and a desire to see a more inclusive Web3 space in the coming years. 

Clearly, there is massive potential for Africa to be a continent that dominates the Web3 industry in the coming decades, and women are perfectly positioned to be a major part of that. Fortunately, this space is tearing down personal and professional barriers and allowing more women than ever to participate and get meaningful benefits that give them more control of their money, credentials, and even careers. This is all made possible because Web3 opens up powerful new possibilities for anybody with a mobile phone, bringing opportunities to places and people that simply didn’t have any before. 

Read more thought leadership pieces in the 18th edition of Top Women Leaders:

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