Cryptocurrency is becoming a side hustle for young Africans

AA – The idea of side hustles is popular all over the world these days. The millennial generation in particular has grown up in tricky economic times in much of the world, which leads a lot of young people to pursue multiple jobs instead of a single career (or in addition to a single career). And while many are too quick to lump all of Africa together in sweeping economic analyses, it’s true that this condition – the need for side hustles – has been amplified among some communities of young Africans.

Particularly in areas or communities where finding a steady job is difficult even with a college degree, second jobs or smaller jobs can be necessary. And it appears that in some of these cases, young Africans are starting to turn toward a new and exciting form of side hustle: cryptocurrency investment.

One story in particular has popularized this narrative. It concerns a 30-year-old Ugandan woman named Peace Akware who lives on the outskirts of Kampala, and who had previously tried things like selling clothes or money lending in an attempt to generate more income. Like more and more African millennials, however, Akware also has a smartphone, and that allows her to tap into the worldwide cryptocurrency market as easily as anyone else. She has set up a digital wallet and as she puts it, checks her bitcoin every day and any chance she gets. So far, according to articles published in January, her investments are paying off.

Whether or not this new form of side hustle works out in the long run for Akware and other young Africans remains to be seen. But it’s an interesting phenomenon one way or the other simply because it has allowed Africa to tap into a worldwide financial movement of sorts. Bitcoin, dude to its decentralized nature, does not belong to any government, bank or company. It is not regulated by any one financial system, nor is it restricted anywhere but a small handful of countries in the entire world. It is simply available online to be traded freely. It is therefore unlike so many forms of investment that are essentially available only to wealthy investors in thriving economies – as much an option for a woman like Peace Akware as to a multi-millionaire investor in New York City.

Bitcoin isn’t alone either. While it’s far and away the most popular and most valuable cryptocurrency on the market, there are others that can be traded as well. In fact, recent reports have indicated that an African cryptocurrency is in development, seen as a means of increasing trade between nations. It is to be called nurucoin, and it already has over 5,500 investors helping it toward a launch. Whate effect this will have on the “side hustle” utility of cryptocurrency on the continent remains to be seen, but it speaks more to the general interest in cryptocurrency that has spread among Africans.

These are all intriguing developments and could mean a lot of good things, financially, for Africans. However it’s also important for millennial investors like Akware to remember that cryptocurrency – while exciting, available, and potentially profitable – carries great risks as well.

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