One Woman’s Quest to Bring Bitcoin to Botswana

Botswanawomanbitcoin06 Jan 2014 / Motherboard – Alakanani Itireleng, 36, believes in Bitcoin. “I love the prospect and the possibility that Bitcoin might bring to laypeople like me,” she tells me.

She calls herself the Bitcoin Rep, Botswana’s Bitcoin Ambassador, and, as far as she knows, she’s the first Bitcoiner to hail from the mid-sized African country of just over two million people.

She’s not your typical crypto-fan. ADSL only arrived to her homeland in 2006. By last year, only 11.5 percent of the country had internet access, according to the ITU. Itireleng has broadband at home, but prefers dial-up through her phone because it’s “more convenient as I am able to use it anytime or anywhere.”

We had planned to speak earlier, but Itireleng had trouble connecting to the Internet. “At long last I managed,” she said. “I use a modem. It’s usually good, except on the fewer occasions when it acts up.” Everything is pay-as-you-go.

She’s also fairly unique in the Bitcoin world for being a woman. “I guess I am a lady who dreams outside off the kitchen,” says Itireleng when I mention my pleasant surprise.

Itireleng’s enthusiasm is rooted in what she sees as the empowering possibilities of the technology’s self-regulating model. She said that Bitcoin promises her and the people of Botswana a sense of control, and she sees numerous parallels between her experiences online in the real world. There are risks everywhere, she explains.

“I have realized that trying to make it with other online programs, you fall from one scam to the other,” she said. “You are not in control. You don’t know what the other person at the end is thinking with the program he or she invented. It’s hard.”

Bitcoin hasn’t made Itireleng rich, and she currently teaches religious studies to teenagers between 15 and 18 while she pursues a Master’s in business administration at Amity University through the India-based school’s e-learning program. “As for technology, I am just self-taught,” she said.

Unlike some early adopters who’ve ridden the Bitcoin rollercoaster to soaring, speculative heights, Itireleng speaks with an evangelical belief in Bitcoin as a system for change, much like Roger “Bitcoin Jesus” Ver.

To start, she posted a brief ode to Bitcoin on YouTube. “It’s a very low quality video, and you might just laugh at it, but I just wanted to show how much Bitcoin means to me,” she said. “To me, it’s a life changer. I didn’t show my face. I guess I was too shy.”….. Read more

Photo credits: Alakanani Itireleng

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