Swiss ‘Crypto Nation’ supports African blockchain ambitions


Sub-Saharan Africa is a key region for Swiss foreign policyexternal link and digitization will play a major role in this. To this end, “Crypto Nation” Switzerland is campaigning for a public-private partnership to find blockchain solutions for some of the continent’s challenges.

This content was published on July 13, 2021 – 17:20 published

The success of the M-Pesa payment system for mobile phones in Kenya and now in other countries shows how digital innovations can overcome infrastructure deficiencies. A few years ago, the Swiss project Monetas tried unsuccessfully to introduce a banking system with distributed ledger technology (DLT) in Tunisia.

But where this project has failed, some domestic innovations may be successful. That is why the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) is supporting the blockchain business incubator Crypto Valley Venture Capital (CV VC) in setting up an office in South Africa.

“Blockchain solutions offer promising fields of application for development cooperation, for example in the areas of financial inclusion by offering better and cheaper products and services to the general public,” Seco told me. “Blockchain solutions are also used in value chains or in the energy sector.”

CV VC will expand its network to find and fund the best blockchain startups in South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Congo and more. The incubator will invest US $ 125,000 (CHF 114,000) in each of the first five successful applicants, with Seco contributing CHF 250,000 in the first year of the project.

“This start-up funding is intended to show that investments in African start-ups that develop blockchain-based solutions for the challenges on the African continent are worthwhile,” says the Seco. “This positive demonstration could mobilize further private capital and create jobs.”

This was demonstrated in Dubai, where another CV-VC hub recently attracted CHF 13 million in additional investment capital.

The African projects must show how blockchain can help solve regional challenges, says Gideon Greaves, Managing Director of the CV VC South Africa Hub. For example: “In South Africa there are many immigrants from neighboring countries who send money home to support their families,” says Greaves. “A lack of financial infrastructure makes it difficult to send these transfers.”

In addition to the incubation project, the Swiss embassy and the University of Zurich will set up a blockchain chair at the University of Johannesburg, which will be co-financed by both Switzerland and South Africa.

The collaboration is an example of how the self-proclaimed “crypto nation” Switzerland can spread its influence around the world. In Switzerland there are currently almost 1,000 blockchain start-ups that support around 5,000 jobs. It was strengthened this year by updating corporate and financial laws to integrate DLT and digital assets into the economy.

On Thursday I am moderating an event by CV VC / CV Labs and supported by the Swiss Blockchain Federationexternal link which examines the scope and depth of the digital assets industry in Switzerland. The businessman and Zurich politician Alexander E. Brunner researched the Swiss Digital Asset and Wealth Management Report, which shows Switzerland’s ambitions to become a global hub for the industry.

Hope you can tune in and join in.


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