El Salvador Offers Path for Ghana’s Fintech Future


While becoming the first country to officially accept Bitcoin as legal currency, El Salvador took the next step, unveiling a geothermal power plant, which powers the country’s Bitcoin mining initiative. Only months later, it has inspired some high profile visitors. Cryptocurrency investors from Europe, in addition to a number of dignitaries, including the President of the Lempa River Hydroelectric Executive Commission and the country’s ambassador to Germany, Florencia Vilanova.

In all, the caravan included forty-one investors from three countries. Their interests included geothermal energy generation for mining purposes, as well as other investment opportunities. In addition to visiting the energy facility, the group planned to meet with representatives of the Foreign Ministry and Ministry of Tourism, as well as others throughout the government.

The visit occurred sixty days after the country officially adopted Bitcoin as legal tender. Sixty. I’ve written at length about the role of culture in investment, but, previously, examples of a turnaround included places like Estonia, now one of the friendliest destinations for startups. It has come a long way since the Soviet Estonia of the 1980s. But, many memories do not extend so far back. El Salvador is a developing country, rich in natural resources. Not a place known for its bustling tech economy or infrastructure. However, sixty days since its President went all in on cryptocurrency, it is finding new interest from global investors.

A cultural shift starts with a single step. As Ghana continues to develop plans for its central bank digital currency (CBDC), the time is ripe to double down. The country will be among the early countries when it readies to launch its CBDC. That, alone, will be helpful in terms of allowing for international remittances and bringing many in the unbanked population into the modern financial system. But, beyond that, the country must let the global tech community know that it is open for business. Embrace the technology and embrace the culture, intertwining fintech with other critical pieces of the economy, as El Salvador has done with its geothermal sector.

There are many ways in which the country could bring together its traditional roots and its technological future. Whether that is through notable universities expanding technological programs or a commitment to enhancing the availability of incubators and other projects which support entrepreneurs. In this way, Ghana could see double the impact, realizing gains from the CBDC project itself, but also spurring the interest of international investors, looking for an innovation culture to buy into. The countries best able to capitalize on what is happening now to illustrate what could happen in the future — those are the countries which will emerge with the most advantages moving forward.

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