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Amazon’s announcement that it will bring 25,000 new jobs each to New York and Northern Virginia sparked a frenzy of activity. Lost in the commotion: It will take many years, if not a decade, before residents see an army of Amazon employees invading their cities.
WSJ.com: US Business
U.S. stocks rocketed to their biggest gain in eight months Wednesday after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome H. Powell hinted that the Fed might not raise interest rates much further. The Dow Jones industrial average surged 617 points.
Powell’s remarks relieved investors who feel the 9-year-old bull…
U.S. employers added just 134,000 jobs in September, the fewest in a year, though the figure probably was lowered by Hurricane Florence, the Labor Department reported Friday. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate fell to 3.7%, the lowest level since 1969.
Hurricane Florence struck North and South Carolina…
Africa is often lauded as the next big thing for cryptocurrency adoption and development. But could poor internet access and connectivity slow down progress? A new report by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) shows that it will cost $ 450 billion to connect 1.5 billion people – most of them in Africa – to the internet. African governments spend almost three times less than the global average on broadband connectivity. Then there is also the issue of low education levels, and high cost of internet-capable devices against low incomes. All these factors could combine to slow down the cryptocurrency revolution in Africa, a revolution that rides on reliable internet connectivity.
Also read: New French Law Sets Out Guidelines For ICOs
Can Crypto Flourish Under Africa’s Irregular Internet Connectivity?
The debate about whether cryptocurrency can work in Africa could now be replaced by whether or not the continent of 1.2 billion people can possess the necessary infrastructure – and technical know-how – to allow virtual money to flourish unhindered.
Over the past few years, the digital currency ecosystem has grown rapidly in several African countries like Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, Nigeria, South Africa, and Zimbabwe, with bitcoin becoming quite popular. The wave of crypto adoption is widely viewed as key to driving economic growth and financial inclusion on the continent.
However, a new report by the International Telecommunications Union titled “The State of Broadband 2018: Broadband Catalyzing Sustainable Development” shows that African governments have a lot to do to ensure that the continent will benefit from the ‘fourth industrial revolution.’
Latest ITU data reveals that some 52 percent or 3.7 billion of the world’s population currently remain unconnected to the internet, with the majority of them residing in Africa. The scale of the infrastructure that must be built or upgraded to bridge the digital divide and deploy emerging technologies is huge – ITU estimates that connecting the next 1.5 billion people will cost $ 450 billion.
“National governments can truly make a difference in bridging the broadband gap by taking advantage of technologies such as satellite to bring reliable connectivity to unconnected areas and create an effective solution to expand internet reach,” says the ITU.
Bottleneck To Economic Growth
According to Internet World Stats, internet penetration in Africa stood at 27.7 percent by the end of March 2017 and this compared unfavourably with the world average of 49.6 percent.
The lack of internet access has arguably served as a bottleneck to economic growth, competitiveness, and development of basic services in countries throughout Africa. The report noted that only 6 percent of Africans have broadband internet access.
These numbers make for uncomfortable reading in the development of cryptocurrency on the continent. Virtual money thrives where internet access and connectivity thrive. Digital currencies will have to reach the unbanked in rural areas, where the majority of Africas reside, but internet connectivity is poorest in such regions.
The internet market in Africa has been stymied by the poor quality and relative scarcity of the fixed-line infrastructure. Currently, more than 90 percent of all internet connections are via mobile networks. Figures from the ITU report validate the point, showing that fixed-broadband penetration stood at 0.7 percent in Africa in 2016, compared to 29.3 percent mobile broadband penetration.
Rwanda Leads In Broadband Connectivity
But as African governments spend just about 1.1 percent of their Gross Domestic Product on broadband technology – about three times less the global average – one country stands out.
Rwanda has achieved 90 percent broadband penetration rate. In 2008, the Rwandese government embarked on a nationwide roll-out of fibre optic as a backbone infrastructure for broadband. This optic fibre connected different parts of the country and provided high-capacity cross-border links with onward connectivity to submarine cables.
Currently, the government of Rwanda’s vision, policy and plans recognise broadband and ICTs in general, as a driver of economic growth, access to information and social cohesion, productivity and innovation across all sectors of the economy – though it doesn’t specifically mention cryptocurrency.
Steps have been taken to promote innovation and entrepreneurship, reduce the cost of end-user devices, stimulate the development and uptake of relevant content and diffusion of technologies into various sectors of the economy.
It remains something of a mystery that with all the progress made in delivering internet connectivity, digital currencies are only starting to take off in Rwanda. Perhaps, that has to do with the average cost of broadband in Africa, at $ 493 per month, according to the International Monetary Fund, beyond the reach of many, who earn just a fraction of the amount each month. Undoubtedly, poor internet access and connectivity may be the antithesis of cryptocurrency adoption and development in Africa.
Do you think Africa can overcome its weaknesses to become a leader in cryptocurrency use? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.
Images via Shutterstock.
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The U.S. economy is projected to grow 3.1% this year as more government spending and tax cuts help propel an expansion, the Congressional Budget Office said Monday.
But the robust run of growth may stall as early as next year, with the U.S. economy expected to slow in 2019 and during the following…
Idaho police are starting to enforce a new law targeting slow drivers hanging out in the passing lanes of highways. Two drivers have been cited as of July 27 for driving too slowly in the left lane since the law took effect July 1, the Idaho Press reported Monday. Idaho…
The U.S. economic expansion rolled along and labor markets tightened in June and early July, even as tariffs heightened concern among manufacturers and boosted some producer prices, according to the Federal Reserve Board’s latest company survey.
The central bank’s Beige Book economic report, based…
Cryptocurrencies – Thematic Research, a report recently issued by Global Data, is attempting to smash what it views as myths and huge untruths about the hype surrounding crypto. Among their findings, the company concludes cryptocurrencies are expensive, slow, mostly unspendable, and cannot scale to meet their projected demand.
Cryptocurrencies Expensive, Slow, Unspendable, Cannot Scale
Talk about kicking a fellow when he’s down (assuming cryptocurrencies are male). London-based research firm, founded in 2006, Global Data, released a 34 page study on exactly why they believe crypto won’t ever live up to its hype or promise.
Its Chief Analyst, Gary Barnett, gets to the heart of the matter, “Many of the most basic claims made by proponents of cryptocurrencies simply are not true. We are told that cryptocurrencies speed transfers up, that they help to eliminate middlemen and that they are free of cost, but none of this is true.” Anecdotes abound as to the veracity of his claim, especially as it relates to bitcoin core (BTC), the world’s most popular cryptocurrency, and the most well known. The ecosystem has famously chosen to employ ‘middlemen,’ the very same Satoshi Nakamoto’s white paper was written to avoid, such as banks (Coinbase) and other exchanges that are allowed to hold full control over a user’s coins and tokens.
“Cryptocurrency transactions are not free,” Mr. Barnett continues. “For example, at its peak the per transaction cost for bitcoin exceeded $ 50, which is not exactly a great way to buy $ 25 worth of groceries. While the cost per transaction hovers around $ 1 when the bitcoin network is not under load, it will inevitably rise if transaction volumes grow again.” Here again, the whipping boy is BTC, and no mention is made of viable alternatives in this regard like bitcoin cash (BCH) or others.
Perhaps most damning, when considering just what the ‘currency’ part of cryptocurrency means, Mr. Barnett fires “no cryptocurrency is widely accepted and transacted. The number of retailers and businesses that accept cryptocurrencies as payment for goods and services is vanishingly small, and those that do typically report very low volumes of cryptocurrency transactions by comparison to other means of payment.” This somewhat begs the question, but it might require Mr. Barnett and Global Data to be a little hipper when it comes to the more recent history of BTC in particular. Enthusiasts have taken nuanced sides as to the importance of claims like Mr. Barnett’s, and the differences are so profound in the crypto space entire projects exist to prove the others wrong. Plus, it is early days with regard to merchant adoption — constant mainstream media hectoring, along with governments the world over threatening ever tighter regulation, doesn’t help matters.
The Scaling Issue Continues to Haunt
Global Data hammers home a key bugaboo with regard to crypto, scaling. For ‘big blockers,’ this issue seems to trump most. With the advent of bitcoin cash (BCH), larger blocks allow for more transactions, less congestion, and ultimately lower fees and faster confirmations, at least in theory and so far.
Nevertheless, the report concludes “cryptocurrencies cannot scale. The Visa payment network is capable of supporting 24,000 transactions per second (tps) at peak rates and regularly averages in the region of 1,500 tps. Bitcoin, meanwhile, struggles to achieve a transaction rate over 10 tps, while bitcoin cash can handle around 60 tps. The only cryptocurrency which comes close to Visa’s average is Ripple, which is capable of 1,500 tps.”
And so, mainstream research firms such as Global Data are left to muse about the current state of crypto valuations. As “currently applied to cryptocurrencies,” Mr. Barnett stresses, they “have no basis in fact; cryptocurrencies represent a classic bubble, in which valuations are purely the result of speculation on the likely behavior of the market rather than a clear-eyed assessment of underlying value.” No mention is made of it being only near a decade in arriving at valuations, and how currencies such as BTC are up thousands of percents since their inception. Bubble doesn’t seem, yet, to describe crypto prices well.
The report’s lone sober take, though still mired in mainstream cynicism and assumptions, comes as a preface. “In fairness,” researchers note, “all currencies are a confidence trick. The US dollar, British pound, and the Euro all depend on nothing more than market confidence for their value. The extent to which a currency works effectively is a function of a range of factors and this report sets out to determine whether cryptocurrencies represent a serious alternative to the established fiat currencies.” Few crypto proponents would claim decentralized money to be quite there, but, then again, government money has had a huge head start.
Is crypto a failed, over-hyped experiment? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images via the Pixabay, Global Data, Shutterstock.
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President Trump signed an executive order in April designed to help rein in public assistance spending – including Medicaid – for able-bodied people with low incomes.