“The Tunisian monetary and financial community is convinced that the new Blockchain technology is a source of growth for Tunisia as well as for all Africa,” Central Bank of Tunisia (BCT) Governor Marouane el Abbassi told reporters on Monday at the opening of the Africa Blockchain Summit, organised by BCT and EUROPLACE Paris, with the technical support of the Talan Group.
The blockchain is a transparent and secure information storage and transmission technology that operates without a central control body.
Marouane el Abbassi said that “the African continent is undeniably the one that could benefit the most from this technology. African and Arab countries face common challenges, namely low financial inclusion and a very large informal sector, since the latest International Labour Office (ILO) study shows that more than 85% of employment in Africa is informal, while in Tunisia this rate stands at 58%, a high rate of unemployment especially among women, youth and higher education graduates, a lack of loan guarantees, a deficit in infrastructure and a significant demographic expansion.
Faced with these challenges, “Blockchain technology can help our countries accelerate their economic empowerment and perpetuate their autonomy. Beyond the monetary aspect, this technology can open doors for entrepreneurs, offering countless solutions based on reliable, secure and transparent protocols,” he pointed out.
The BCT governor underlined the obstacles to the development of Blockchain technology, specifying that “the 1st obstacle is the weak connectivity in Africa and the 2nd is that Blockchain applications offer solutions requiring significant change and a complete break with existing systems. To conduct this change, financial institutions as well as the entire ecosystem must prepare for the transition.”
He added that “the 3rd challenge depends on the public authorities who will legislate, impose and enforce laws to help entrepreneurs operate on a global scale and to have the same weapons as their competitors at the international level.”
Abbassi also considered that “the development of these technologies must be encouraged while ensuring compliance with financial rules, the protection of consumers and their personal data, financial stability and fight against money laundering.”
He also called for “the implementation of appropriate regulation as a catalyst for innovation and to fight against brain drain that deprives the Arab and African countries of their best skills.”
Taking the floor, Arab Monetary Fund CEO Abdel Rahman el Hamidi pointed out the opportunity for Arab and African countries to promote the development of new financial technologies that he believes will have an important impact in terms of financial inclusion, access to financial services for those who are deprived of it today, control of financial costs for financial institutions and economy funding.
He warned, however, against the possible risks that could arise from this newly emerging technology whose legal aspects are still not well defined, including threats to the protection of personal data and cyber attacks.
For his part, Paris Europlace Secretary-General Alain Pithon said that “the event is part of an international dynamic aimed to understand and master the Blockchain technology, a subject in which Paris Europlace is very involved both in France and abroad.”
He voiced wish to “be able to rely on the privileged relationship with the Tunis financial centre to achieve joint projects for the benefit of Africa and the MENA region.”
The Africa Blockchain Summit is intended to understand the impact of distributed ledger technology on the African finance and emerging countries.
This initiative aims to contribute to the global thinking and work on the Blockchain and to propose in a regional perspective a grid of analysis and understanding of this technology. The event will help draft a white paper that offers a shared vision of how central banks in the region will address Blockchain challenges to create an appropriate regulatory framework that improves security and the efficiency of financial markets.