Fueled by a desire to see Africa blossom economically and stand shoulder to shoulder with other continents, George Ayinde, an African crypto enthusiast and entrepreneur, explains how innovation and disruptive technologies can be a boon to the African economy.
With his penchant to inspire, educate and rebuild the continent, the Cape Verde based Nigerian, who has set up successful businesses in the creative and technology industries in Dubai, speaks of his latest venture, “WeMove“, a decentralised financial platform for Africans around the world to challenge the status quo around them and a space to create, innovate and participate in shaping Africa’s future.
Powered by disruptive digital technologies, the platform, according to Ayinde, stands for the liberation, calibration and healing of today’s generation to lay a solid foundation to build on by investing in ground-breaking solutions and innovative ideas. In this interview with Daily Sun, the young entrepreneur explains how Africa can explore innovative ideas and digital currencies to build its much-desired economic power.
You see Africa’s emerging from its current status as something of an economic backwater to be among the world’s great powers; what’s the driving force and thinking behind this vision?
Deep self-love that originates out of my profound connection to my roots.
Liberation, calibration and healing are at the heart of your vision for Africa; specifically, which other areas do you intend to liberate, heal and fine-tune asides eliminating middlemen through your platform (WeMove) in our day to day economic transactions?
The main focus is mental liberation which leads to better mental health for our people collectively. We have so many social issues that divide us as a race and this platform will provide a forum to discuss these issues. The concept that Heaven is attainable only after years of suffering spent on Earth astounds me, especially when I believe that we can create it where we are or simply cross borders to find it. We need to strengthen our connections within Africa and focus on sharing information among our countries. We as Africans should understand that at this stage we have all the tools and information to create our own wealth. Having zero visibility into the affairs of our neighbours was never sustainable and we cannot continue in the same direction.
How are we “Africans” if we do not know what is going on with each other? How do we know what opportunities lie in other African countries when all we have are foreign schools marketing learning institutions or countries with green card programmes so we can make money for their economies as international students or expats? When I visit other African countries, all I see are opportunities for trade and deep meaningful cultural exchange. I want to have forums to educate, inspire and support each other as Africans from seed funding for startups to basic tourism and teaching lost African history.
Women’s Rights is one of, if not the most important cause to fight for in this century, and there is no other way to heal and do better if the hard truths cannot be laid out and discussed. This generation is ready to question the status quo, evolve and develop, and we will have a clubhouse of sorts to discuss these issues. It is my belief that the only way for our generation to lay a solid foundation for meaningful change is by having these difficult conversations and engaging the youth to lead the change.
I take cues from the words of François Tombalbaye: There is not much sense in building Africa in sovereign states, independent of each other, for we know that it is from our union and from it alone that we shall draw sufficient strength to assert ourselves in the world.
With WeMove, who is your target market and what is the confidence level for your platform, given the enormous sharp practices in the global business ecosystem?
We welcome the neophyte and the seasoned crypto professional alike, Africa’s crypto investors and traders are young hardworking everyday people and I dare say the second-largest crypto community in the world, second only to Asia. As for confidence in the token, I will lay emphasis on the steps taken to ensure the platform is truly decentralised and SAFU (crypto lingo for SAFE). Our platform will be launched on PadSwap, an Automated Market Maker, Yield Farming, and Staking platform that rewards liquidity providers because they are the backbone of the market. The platform is flash loan proof unlike other popular AMMs in the DeFi space and this helps protect investors’ assets and boosts confidence in their projects. PadSwap also does an incredible amount of due diligence before listing new tokens; this helps ensure that the platform does not list rug pulls or pump and dump tokens with zero utility.
PadSwap solves the issue of short to unrealistically long-locked liquidity wasting in some vaults with zero benefits to the community but some misguided-overhyped “safety” guaranteed by Devs (crypto lingo for developer). Its Decentralized Perpetual Liquidity Protocol (DPLP) where fair launched or pre-sold liquidity tokens are donated to a farm which means Devs no longer have access to said liquidity so projects like WeMove on PadSwap cannot rug.
This farm functions as the liquidity pool for the token. Community members will be able to farm this liquidity, ensuring that it is decentralized. The DPLP farm has a 10% in and out fee. 7.5% goes back to the liquidity pool, and 2.5% goes to the vault. This ensures that there will always be liquidity to farm and incentivizes more extended-term holding. More importantly, this means that WeMove will always have the liquidity to trade long after I am dust.
Not a few countries in Africa are yet to fully support cryptocurrency. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for instance in February banned trading in cryptocurrencies and enabling payments for crypto exchange. It also directed all banks and other financial institutions to identify and cancel the accounts of individuals/corporate bodies who deal in crypto or run crypto transactions and exchanges. Thus people are sceptical about it. Some see it as another MMM. So, with your platform, how secure are potential and prospective investors?
From your question, I understand that a centralised body banned its centralised institutions’ banks from working with centralised crypto exchanges, and research data has shown that this only drove up investment into crypto and DeFi by Nigerians. What the CBN did was completely alienate itself from Nigerian crypto adopters who are already traditional finance sceptics and further buttress the bitcoin narrative that people should be the custodians of their own fungible assets, not centralised financial institutions.
The ban gave rise to P2P (peer-to-peer) platforms, the very ethos to which bitcoin was created in the first place. Africans, not just Nigerians, have a massive problem with cross border settlements and remittances. If you are Nigerian and live outside the country, you’ll realise how worthless your retail banks are and crypto solves this issue in a lightning-fast manner. You can buy goods and services from another continent in seconds without having to wait on a two to three day SWIFT, caps on how much you can send-receive, and all the 21 questions and restrictions from the banks for remittance. In my world, I have never had to wait for a transaction for a day. I do not understand it; it doesn’t compute in my head and with the plethora of cryptocurrency out there you get remittances in literal seconds.
Africans also put their savings into crypto as a means of avoiding inflation and this has contributed to the growing market in Africa. Everyone earning in local currency are worth a lot less at the time of this interview, thanks to inflation caused by the same institutions you revere; they made us all a lot worth-less.
As for the MMM narrative, since 2009, twelve years since bitcoin was launched and all you can see is growing adoption. According to Chainalysis, Africa’s crypto market increased in value by more than 1,200% between July of 2020 and June 2021, with high adoption in Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria and Tanzania.
The same CBN that banned crypto launched its own CBDC, so it begs the question: was it done to once again try to force Nigerians to use their own cryptocurrency? The same way Twitter was banned so some knock-off platform could be forced on the masses as a form of control of free speech? If this is the case then they have a rude awakening coming their way. You cannot force people to adopt your currency [laughs]. it does not work that way, and besides the more educated people are about decentralised finance. The more they will be akin to informed questions about CBDCs like who controls the mint function of the currency? Under what set of rules will new digital currency be minted? Where is the Whitepaper? Why wasn’t the Whitepaper made public? will the ledger of said CBDC be made public? In a country that prints the Naira on end, what will be different about this so-called digital currency? How are the private keys stored and the most important question of it all for adopters will be do they want to use another fork of centralisation as a store of value?
If African governments stopped wasting trillions on financial regulation and figuring out how to fleece its citizens at every turn and devote these resources to building and infrastructure, we would be terraforming Mars already and there would be no such thing as scarce resources. As for the security question, I would refer you to the Decentralised Perpetual Liquidity protocol we are founded on.
How do you intend to use WeMove to foster financial inclusion, remittance and flatten the rising inflation curve, particularly in Nigeria?
Our DeFi protocol will provide crypto education, availability and equality of opportunities to access financial services where Africans/individuals and businesses can access appropriate, affordable, and timely financial products and services depending on their individual use case. These include banking, loans, equity, and insurance products. WeMove is a platform base for numerous marketplaces and we will be creating and adding in our ecosystem, from e-commerce to decentralized apps to Gamefi and an African NFT platform like no other. As for the remittance, that will be unveiled in the first quarter of 2022 and I promise it will be instrumental for Africans home and abroad.
Can you educate African governments on what they stand to gain if they adopt a crypto-enabled economy?
I created the Katalyst Africa platform for this purpose years before WeMove. It is going to be a biannual global gathering of all things disruptive and future tech that elected officials, tech entrepreneurs, startups and the general public from the cardinals of Africa will attend; there we will discuss the Africa agenda and how these emerging technologies can further empower the next generation of Africa.
As for what the governments stand to gain, I believe they would regain some degree of trust from the same people that elected them to govern. The next generation of Africans will adopt the technology in ways we can only dream of – with or without centralized institutions and whatever system of control they want to put in place.
Each time I read of the government’s regulation and control, I ask: why regulate a fair system and who watches the watchmen? The time and money wasted on panels and endless debate by officials should be used to build transparent systems on the blockchain.
The government use cases of blockchain technologies are endless; from administration to project execution, pension funds to salary payments and budget allocation to ministries, most important idea in my opinion would be of fair, transparent election use case but that is not a conversation anyone wants to have.
Education on the best practices for crypto will negate security risks, practices like doing your own research, auditing code, multi-signature wallets, hardware over hot wallets, how best to store your private keys and equipping one’s self with the knowledge to avoid the numerous cyber attacks that even centralised systems are prone to.
How would the subscription to WeMove by Africans scattered across the globe shape Africa’s future?
WeMove is building an efficient ecosystem powering the exchange of goods and services, not just for financial speculation, where everyday Africans home and abroad can easily use cryptocurrency to purchase services and products; that is, to use it also as a medium of payment for a diverse assortment of easy-to-use and intuitive products and services that will be deployed on our platform, putting the token to use the way satoshi intended crypto to be used ― as a peer-to-peer currency, putting it into the hands of non-technical people who wish to conduct business using non-government-issued currencies and as a hedge to Africa’s ever-rising inflation.
Does WeMove make users self-employed, employers of labour or people just use it as a channel to make transactions?
A little bit of all, depending on the type of user. I can say a day trader will most likely be self-employed and an entrepreneur. A user could also be an investor and use it as a store of value and hedge against inflation. The other type of user encompasses everyday people with regular jobs that want to use it for micro/macro transactions.
Can you expand on what you meant when you said: “Africa: Your history may have been altered, lost or erased, but the power to build our future is in our collective hands, minds and voice”?
We were conditioned to look up to foreigners and told tales of their conquests and not those of black people. If you research black history there is so much to be proud of, so much to inspire like the story of Mansa Musa of Mali, the great pyramids of South Sudan, the North Africans that conquered parts of Spain, the Benin Empire and the last emperor of Africa – Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, to name a few.
We can learn from the mistakes of our past and rebuild Africa while celebrating the achievements of black people. If the United Arab Emirates can build greatness out of the desert sand that cannot mould blocks, how much more Africa with all the natural resources we have and our budding youth base? Africa missed the industrial era by a mile and a half; the positive takeaway is that we are not suffering from the shortcomings of that era and can focus on sustainable, emerging, disruptive technologies because, compared to other continents, we do not have much to teardown to build. We can become the continent where its people and emerging tech thrives.
Since Defi stands for “Decentralised Finance”, geared towards disrupting and kicking out Financial intermediaries, how prepared are you, how formidable are you, what plans have you put in place to withstand reprisals from these financial intermediaries as it’s expected – they will fight back with drastic measures to kick you out of the space for them to remain in business.
First, such institutions cannot innovate because they are built to resist change, not to embrace it. Decentralised finance has flipped the model on its head, delivering a new world of financial products, built using smart contracts that allow consumers to switch between providers in a matter of seconds, all at the click of a mouse.
It is not that the WeMove protocol is just better — it’s simply fundamentally different. In the old world of retail banking, you have to trust the people that run banks. Need I reference Oceanic Bank and Diamond Bank? This trust is expensive to everyday Africans, to everyday people. In the new world of decentralised finance, we trust the code that provides our financial services. I mean, if as a user on our platform you can get a 15% APY on a savings protocol or yield farming, why would you ever keep money in a bank?
If they understand smart contracts in DeFi, it is not about me but trust in a code that is public to be scrutinised and audited. The protocol is also multi-chain and launching on the Binance Smart Chain and Moonriver networks on the 7th of December with more chains to be announced in the near future. We chose to go the multi-chain route because a lot of Africans use BNB, BUSD to transact or as a store of value; most do not understand the technology behind it which is the Binance Smart Chain – a fork of the Ethereum network with cheaper gas fees and then Moonriver which is a para-chain of the Kusama-Polkadot network.
On reprisals, I reiterate that WeMove is not a Nigerian DeFi project and as such will thrive in African countries that support innovation like Rwanda, which has changed its narrative from genocide to the Tech hub of Africa; or Ghana, where there is huge support from its government for digitisation and policies that support homegrown tech startups; Namibia, whose government established a youth arm in every cabinet of their government so they have a say in federal and state policy; and Senegal, where future and sustainable tech thrives. WeMove will do just fine besides we are community-driven not government-centric.
Centralised institutions want to control but history has shown us that a shift in power is enough to change how the very fundamentals of our constitution are respected and enforced. In coding, this is impossible. Code does not care about your tribe, ethnicity, religion or political party. A set of rules in a smart contract is all that governs.
Who are your partners and what are their interests?
Partners will be unveiled during our platform pre-launch. All I can say for now is I have been a crypto nomad for 10 years and cherry-picked what in my opinion is the most secure, innovative and environmentally friendly for my Africa agenda
(The original feature was published on www.sunnewsonline.com on 11th October 2021)