Adopt cryptos but leverage innovative regulation – Prof Quaynor

Ghana adopt crypto-currencies
Professor Nii Narku Quaynor, Chief Executive of Ghana Dot Com

Ghana must go ahead and adopt crypto-currencies – but regulatory agencies such as the Bank of Ghana (BoG) should be introducing innovative regulation to keep the sector in check while allowing its benefits to be tapped extensively, Professor Nii Narku Quaynor, Chief Executive of Ghana Dot Com, has said.

“We as a country should move forward and adopt cryptocurrencies through innovation regulation. As with all technology waves, the early bird catches the worm. We are hopeful that blockchain technologies do not suffer same fate as Internet, where we went from over 100 Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the 90s to the handful of multinational companies providing Internet services today,” he cautioned.

The central bank is in a dilemma with the introduction of its own Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) dubbed e-Cedi, while the growth of blockchain-backed cryptocurrencies cannot be ignored in Ghana and the sub-region. With no recognised global body or institution mandated to control the growing crypto-currencies, the BoG is in a fix.

Even as it pushes on with the e-Cedi the subject of regulating blockchain-backed crypto-currencies is not far off despite the central bank’s efforts to fend of such growing concerns. The BoG recently issued a cautionary statement to public to stay away from a yet-to-be-launched product dubbed ‘Freedom Coin’.

Professor Quaynor, who was speaking as a guest at the maiden edition of the Africa Technovate Awards – where he was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement award, stressed that a country, El Salvador, has gone as far as recognising Bitcoin, a crypto-currency, as a legal tender; and when a volcano devastated Tonga, another country, it leveraged crypto-currencies to help speed up the economic restoration process.

“The policy environment should support Ghanaian companies to venture into providing crypto-currency services locally before the market is captured by international operators,” he said to an audience of technology companies and enthusiasts.

To Professor Quaynor, the potential of blockchain extends beyond finance and banking applications to applications which require immutability, supply chain management, rights and certificates, and others. “Securing government documents by blockchain has been cited as low hanging fruit to show blockchain use-cases. Above all, traceability and audit ability of blockchain have proven attractive to enthusiasts.”

He opined that the BoG is being slow in introducing regulation, and its effects may not be felt now but in the future – and that could be devastating. He cited the example of how he has been urging the central bank to regulate his institution, Ghana Dot Com (GDC), since 2015; but it was only last year when he was approved to operate in the BoG’s sandbox.

“While this is good for Ghana, it also shows that regulation takes time and we can miss opportunities. The global industry is already consolidating, and global companies have built up wallets while local companies were restrained and law-abiding,” he noted.

Professor Quaynor spoke on the topic ‘Exploring the Nexus Between Blockchain Technology and Digital Transformation’.

The maiden edition of the Africa Technovate Awards, organised by Africa Integrated Development and Communications Consultancies (AIDEC), came off at the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA) auditorium. Some 17 institutions and individuals were honoured for their contribution to the growth and development of technology in Ghana and Africa.

Other speakers were Dr. Carol Annang, Country Director for Invest Africa; Robert Yennah, Chairman of AIDEC Group; Paul Asinor, Executive Director of e-Commerce Association of Ghana; and Professor Clement Dzidonu, President, Accra Institute of Technology who spoke on the topic ‘Benchmarking the Digital Transformation Journey in Africa – the Way Forward’.

Mr. Yennah, in his welcome remarks noted that the African tech ecosystem grew exponentially in the past year, with most technological companies outstandingly driving much change on the continent and repositioning Africa on the global front.

“For such reasons, Africa Integrated Development and Communications Consultancies (AIDEC) has organised the maiden award scheme called the Africa Technovate Awards to appreciate and reward the hard work of players within this technological sphere on the continent.

“As part of the scheme to award the best in technology, innovation and creativity in Africa, we also seek to motivate ‘Technovate’ to become even more competitive and enthusiastic about driving Africa on the road of a fast-transforming technological world. Keep on advancing Africa with your commitment to matching the continent with the rest of the world in terms of digital technology.”

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