Kenya’s Crypto Crowd Hopes President-Elect Will Be Better Than Predecessor

by Abiodun Oladokun
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Kenya's Crypto Crowd Hopes President-Elect Will Be Better Than Predecessor

Amitoj Singh is CoinDesk's regulatory reporter covering India. He holds BTC and ETH below CoinDesk's disclosure threshold of $1,000.

Kenya President-Elect William Ruto is “assumed” to be a better hope for the crypto community in Kenya than the losing candidate Raila Odinga, according to local crypto experts.

Kenya’s crypto future was not an election issue, and was not discussed by either candidate during the campaign. But him being 22 years younger than Odinga, who is 77, suggests he may be more accommodative of innovation.

“It is only an assumption that because he’s younger. But ever since the cautionary notice issued by the central bank in 2018, no candidate has actually volunteered to talk about the crypto question in depth” said Roselyne Wanjiru, a researcher at the Blockchain Association of Kenya, an industry body. Kenyan regulators have not proposed any sort of actual crypto rules to date.

It is important for the region as the nation leads Africa in crypto adoption and was recently ranked fifth globally for adoption by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The report by the UN affiliate said that 8.5% of Kenya’s population own cryptocurrencies and that’s ahead of the 8.3% that own crypto in the United States.

Kenya’s narrow presidential election result saw Ruto winning 50.5% of the vote compared to Odinga’s 48.8%.

Rufas Kamau, a research and markets analyst, stated that in addition to his age, Ruto’s youth-friendly campaign in which he coined the phrase “hustler nation” could mean he has a positive outlook on crypto.

“The previous administration was very harsh. We don’t know exactly how this change will affect crypto but he has been supportive of the youth so we are hoping he will provide opportunities through crypto,” Kamau said.

Yvonne Kagondu, the founder of Kenya Blockchain Ladies, said that she wasn’t sure which result would have been better, though one of Ruto’s key policies is to appoint a gender-balanced cabinet.

“On the one hand, Ruto is younger but he appears to be strict and his word is final and that can be scary. We weren’t confident with either candidate. Regardless, we will continue to work in silence. We don’t want any issues with our government,” Kagondu said.

Eugene Mutai, an African crypto miner and the CTO and co-founder of Raise, said the elections have left Kenya’s crypto community in a grey area.

“What really matters is who they actually appoint as the leader of the Central Bank of Kenya and also Ministry of Finance. This election is yet to change the story of crypto in Kenya,” Mutai said.

Ruto’s victory is not final since Odinga has rejected the result. Odinga has said that his team will pursue all legal options, potentially delaying clarity for crypto enthusiasts in Kenya.

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