According to Arcane Research, African countries such as Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt, Mauritius, Uganda, Ghana, Seychelles and South Africa are among the leading nations for crypto adoption worldwide.
With crypto adoption in Africa positioned to double in the coming years, one might wonder which cryptocurrencies are most used on the continent. This article discusses the 10 most popular coins and tokens in Africa, along with the top 5 countries in Africa for investing, setting up your business or growing your crypto network.
Bitcoin (BTC) – Official tender in CAR
For obvious reasons, Bitcoin is the most popular and valuable cryptocurrency in the world. Much of crypto adoption globally has been due to the rise in the value of BTC. That also helped its popularity in Africa. Most businesses that accept cryptocurrencies for payments in Africa opt for Bitcoin, and the same applies to retail investors. Recently, the Central African Republic (CAR) became the second country in the world to make Bitcoin a legal tender, writes BBC. Meanwhile, Nigeria is the #1 country worldwide in terms of the number of people searching for “Bitcoin” and “Crypto” keywords on Google.
Ethereum (ETH) – Growing fast
Ether or ETH has the second-largest market cap among cryptocurrencies. It is one of the most used in Africa due to the Ethereum network. Ethereum’s smart contract capabilities allow for the development of decentralized applications and platforms within its ecosystem. This has led to the emergence of decentralized finance, play-to-earn, non-fungible tokens, and several other sectors on Ethereum. All the use cases of Ethereum contribute to its appeal in Africa. Since ETH is its native token, it has grown popular on the continent. The rising value of ETH further helps this.
Solana (SOL) – Low fees for NFTs
Similar to Ethereum, the Solana network has smart contract capabilities. But NFT trading has made its native cryptocurrency popular in Africa. The continent is one of the top destinations for NFT trading globally, which will likely increase this year. A recent survey by Finder AU shows that Nigerians are the most likely to buy NFTs, with 21.7% planning to buy and 13.7% of Nigerians already owning NFTs. Nigeria and South Africa already have a sizable percentage of their population interested in digital assets. The Solana coin, which is currently the ninth-largest cryptocurrency by market cap, rose significantly in value in 2021 due to NFT trading. Although SOL’s value has declined, it’s still a popular African choice, especially for NFT traders since the transaction fees are so low on Solana’s blockchain.
BNB Coin – Low transaction fees for tokens
BNB is the native token of BNB Chain (formerly Binance Smart Chain), the blockchain network created by Binance. Binance exchange is one of the most widely used exchanges in Africa. Its widespread usage means that BNB, which is associated with it, has also grown in popularity. It also helps that the trading fees on Binance are lower for those holding BNB in their portfolio compared to those that don’t. Since the launch of the Binance Masterclass Education Series, Binance has educated over 541,000 Africans about cryptocurrency. Some of these events have been held both offline and online for French-speaking Africans.
Dogecoin (DOGE) – Number one meme token
The meme coin boom in 2021 catapulted Dogecoin to the top ten cryptocurrencies globally. With that and numerous tweets about it from Elon Musk, Doge has risen to become one of the most popular cryptocurrencies in Africa. While it is already down 89% from its peak, Doge is still popular among Africans, with many holding and looking forward to when it will peak again. Several gambling sites in Africa accept Dogecoin and soon there are likely to also be some more crypto casinos allowing DOGE.
Shiba Inu (SHIB) – Number two meme token
Another token that benefited from the meme coin boom was Shiba Inu. Launched in 2020, just when the bull market was about to start, Shiba Inu’s low price made it attractive to crypto investors who couldn’t afford more valuable cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc. However, Shiba Inu has seen its value drop significantly over the last few months.
Cardano (ADA) – Partnerships with African countries
ADA is currently the sixth-largest cryptocurrency by market. Cardano’s network is considered one of the alternatives to Ethereum due to its smart contract capabilities. While the token has not been able to reach ETH levels in value, it has enhanced its popularity in Africa. This is mostly due to Cardano’s partnership with African countries such as Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Kenya. With the network helping African countries adopt blockchain technology for various purposes, the use of its tokens is also likely to increase. Many Africans find the low value per token of ADA compelling and giving a low entry barrier for many.
Tether (USDT) – The highest volume among stablecoins
Stablecoins play an integral role in the crypto ecosystem. Unlike regular cryptocurrencies that are volatile, stablecoins maintain the same value. Tether (USDT) is a stablecoin with the highest volume and has become very popular in Africa. Since it’s pegged to US dollars, many use it as a means of foreign exchange, especially in countries where it is much harder to access US dollars through official sources. It’s also the go-to currency for many retail investors on the continent.
USD Coin (USDC) – the safest stablecoin?
The USD Coin has grown popular in Africa, especially among crypto traders. Like USDT, it is pegged to the US Dollar, which means its value is always $1. Traders use it as a bridge when switching from one volatile cryptocurrency to another. Those who also want to save in USD sometimes use USDC to avoid the challenges of traditional financial institutions.
Dash (DASH) – Still quite popular
Dash cryptocurrency was one of the first virtual assets to be accepted by merchants in Africa. While it doesn’t have a large market cap like the other cryptocurrencies on this list, it’s quite popular on the continent.
Top 5 African Countries for Crypto
South Africa – New laws for cryptocurrencies are coming to South Africa, an African country that has often been seen as a pioneer for crypto.
Mauritius – The popular island in the Indian Ocean got crypto-friendly legislation. There is also no tax for crypto transactions in Mauritius yet.
Nigeria – The country’s crypto sector is thriving, despite a ban in 2021. Bloomberg wrote that Nigeria is the most curious nation on the planet when it comes to queries related to investing and buying crypto. In 2023, it seems like the Nigerian Bourse is about to adopt a blockchain-enabled exchange according to Bloomberg – but how far they come is yet unclear.
Kenya – When it comes to the highest levels of daily peer-to-peer transaction volume, Kenya stands out as the winner. Many Africans expect the peer to peer crypto transfers to be way cheaper than other deposit methods, but in reality, both e-wallets and credit cards to buy crypto can have zero additional exchange fees.
Seychelles – For crypto exchanges looking for a jurisdiction that allows customers from all over the world, Seychelles and Bahamas usually stand out. While the regulation is minimal and exchanges only have to pay a small fee and do some paper exercises, it’s not harder to get a crypto license in Seychelles than it is to get a bank account in Malta, rather the opposite – way easier.
The high rate of adoption of crypto in Africa is due to reasons such as inflation in several countries, inadequate banking infrastructure, international settlements, etc. Although the adoption is projected to increase, there are several challenges ranging from three low internet penetration, regulators’ resistance, and poor electricity.