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  • Writer's pictureConnie Chan

3 Lessons From The Oslo Freedom Forum: Why BTC? Nabourema, Likhachevskiy, Diop

The Oslo Freedom Forum offers another way to measure the bitcoin network’s worth. Price action is fine, but, what about real-life impact? The event is not about bitcoin per se. However, The Human Rights Foundation’s Chief Strategy Officer, Alex Gladstein, put together a series of one-minute clips that summarize exactly how deep bitcoin’s existence changes everything.

Let’s read and hear what the activists have to say. Last time it was Carter, Mahboob, and Volkov. On this occasion, we go to Togo, Belarus, and Senegal to learn exactly why bitcoin is essential for humanity’s future. It’s hard to see the benefits from one of the few countries in which the banking system actually works. See it through this edition’s Oslo Freedom Forum protagonist’s eyes and you’ll gain the necessary perspective.

Oslo Freedom Forum: Farida Nabourema On Monetary Colonialism

The Togolese human rights defender poses the problem. The CFA Franc is monetary colonialism, it’s as simple as that. However, the Oslo Freedom Forum quickly learned that few people outside of the countries that are forced to use the currency know how deeply rooted the issue is.

“Living in Togo, money has been at the center of our struggle for change because literally us falling under dictatorship came from our decision to want to become monetarily independent from the colonial system. Togo and the other 14 countries in the French colonial system they all have to follow the same monetary policies that were created by the colonial institution. And in that specific sector, laws have been passed literally banning citizens from owning foreign currency.”

Now, the fact that your country doesn’t have control of your national currency is bad enough. It’s like, your country is independent, but not quite. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The consequences for activists that don’t necessarily see eye to eye with the government are a little harder to see. Back to Farida Nabourema:

“You are not allowed to have a foreign currency account unless you have received specific authorization from the Minister of Commerce. And literally, you have no chance of obtaining that if you are openly opposed to the government. And the CFA currency has lost over 200% of its value since the independence era and as a result, has increased poverty because people have lost more than double of their savings and resources and have found themselves in greater debt.”

That’s right, activists are quietly punished and condemned to remain poor, but, what else is new? Bitcoin is. There’s a new game in town, and everyone can participate in it. In this case, it’s easy to see how beneficial this is for activists, but how the country as a whole might benefit is a little harder to see.

“So bitcoin provides better stability while allowing us to continue our struggle but also help us find a different monetary system as we hope that one day we can have state institutions that are accountable to us because for now the people of Togo have no say whatsoever in terms of our fiscal and monetary and financial policies.”

Oslo Freedom Forum: Jaroslav Likhachevskiy On The Need For Bitcoin

The Oslo Freedom Forum learned exactly why the world needs bitcoin through a look at the recent history of Belarus with BYSOL founder Jaroslav Likhachevskiy.

“The political situation in Belarus has been bad for almost 30 years, but 2020, it went completely crazy. Lots of crackdown. Lots of violence in the streets. 50,000 people in jail in Europe, can you imagine? And huge need of support in civil society and activists inside of the country.”

In some parts of the world, the banking system works and it seems like bitcoin is not necessary. That is, until the banking system is weaponized against you and everything you own gets confiscated.

“And we suddenly realized that the traditional financial system is 100% tracked and known by the regime. All of the transactions, all of the assets, all of the accounts, everything, so they can freeze your funds any day of the week. They can take it. They can put you into the jail because you received support from abroad. And this is the moment we started using crypto for transferring money.”

Oslo Freedom Forum: Fodé Diop On The New Banking

The Senegalese financial freedom advocate paints the problem once again. It’s hard to see the need for a new banking system from the few countries in which the current one works. However, the necessity is painfully obvious from any country in which the current system has failed. Diop told the Oslo Freedom Forum:

“The money is not broken in a developed world. In Norway, in America, money works. We have a way to go to a bank really quick, open up a bank account, get a credit card and get pretty much like all these banking services. Unfortunately, in Africa, banks are pretty much luxury brands because a bank will never open up a branch in a village. So how do we service these people?”

That’s a rhetorical question, Fodé Diop answers it right away with a longer version of “bitcoin fixes this.”

“Personally, I believe that the future is going to be the future of banking is going to be most likely an Android device connected to the Bitcoin Network and we can send value from anywhere in the world. And anybody who joins the network participates in the network effect of this monetary system itself.”

Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.


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