Towards a pro-crypto president in Nigeria?

In Nigeria, digital assets are entering the debate over the presidential election scheduled for February 2023. Adebayo Adewole, presidential candidate for the Social Democratic Party (SDP) has promised to create 30 million crypto-related jobs if elected. This statement is a testament to the popularity of cryptocurrency in Africa’s most populous country.

Crypto to beat unemployment

As the February 2023 presidential elections approach, cryptocurrency is at the center of political debate in Nigeria.

Adebayo Adewole, a presidential candidate for the Social Democratic Party (SDP) promises to fight unemployment. The candidate says he has found that the country cannot create sufficient jobs with public resources alone. Thus, he promises to rely on the crypto ecosystem to create the jobs in Nigeria.

As part of this, the presidential candidate promised to deploy technologies such as cryptocurrencies and partnerships with businesses to create 30 million jobs. This statement was made during Channel Television’s Sunday Politics program.

In Nigeria, the cryptocurrency always fought, but never defeated

Nigeria’s presidential candidates are right to be interested in cryptocurrency. The country holds a large crypto community across Africa. According to a report from the Kucoin exchange, as many as 33.4 million Nigerian adults use cryptocurrency.

That’s 35 percent of the country’s adult population, making the country the fourth largest in the world in terms of adoption after the United States, India and Pakistan. This is an important constituency that cannot leave a presidential contender indifferent.

Nothing predestined Nigeria for such a high level of cryptocurrency adoption. Indeed, the country faces a significant crackdown on crypto users from state departments, regulators and banks.

In February 2021, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) formally banned the use of Bitcoin in Nigeria. The central bank also ordered banks in the country to block the accounts of cryptocurrency users. The country even launched a central bank digital currency in October 2021 to address Nigerians’ attraction to digital currencies.

These restrictions on crypto users have slowed down Nigeria’s economy. That’s according to a report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The OECD notes that these restrictive measures have led to a reduction in foreign direct investment in fintechs in a country where the crypto sector provides jobs and economic opportunities for millions of young people.

For the first time in Africa, cryptocurrency could be a major issue in a presidential election. This is an indisputable indicator of the growing interest of the continent’s citizens in this type of asset. Even if he is not elected, Adebayo Adewole will have the merit of putting this important topic back at the center of Nigerian politics. Let’s hope that other candidates can commit to developing the sector and not repressing it.