16 January 2018

Kenya: ICT CS Mucheru Says He Invested in Bitcoin and Reaped Big

Nairobi — Information, Communication, and Technology Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru has said he had invested in cryptocurrency bitcoin.

"I exited and I am not complaining," said Mucheru, during the opening of the Nairobi Innovation Week.

Mucheru has also said his investment in tech startups when he was in the private sector made him a handsome return over time, urging angel investors to put their money in startups in Kenya.

"One of the things I can say to investors is that investing in Kenyan startups has a huge return. I am a witness in that space," added Mucheru.

He says the main challenge for investors is the lack of enough information and not grasping the opportunities available.

Mucheru says the ministry is setting up a task force to explore how the blockchain technology can be harnessed to improve transparency and efficiency in the public and private sector.

The technology - which powers the cryptocurrency transactions - allows records to be stored separately but are linked using a secure code making it impossible to modify data.

A Citibank report reveals Kenya is one of the top countries holding bitcoins as a percentage of GDP, with over 2 percent of Kenya's Sh1.7 trillion GDP held in virtual currencies, potentially posing a significant risk to Kenya's economy if the system collapses, says Citibank analysts.

One bitcoin is now valued at Sh1.2 million from Sh770,000 in mid-November 2017 with earlier bitcoin investors reaping over 1,000 percent in return on investment.

The Central Bank has repeatedly warned on the use of cryptocurrencies as an asset class or a currency, though CBK Governor Dr. Patrick Njoroge has said the blockchain technology can be harnessed by the government to improve efficiency.

Mucheru says the government is keen on using ICT to accelerate delivery of services and to spur the creation of digital jobs.

"I am convinced that the areas of blockchain and artificial intelligence are going to be extremely key for the things we are going to do in the next five years," said Mucheru.


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