The youth of Nigeria and the 2023 general election
Ray Youssef, founder and CEO of Paxful and a founder of the Built With Bitcoin Foundation
Nigeria’s 2023 General Election is just around the corner. While political parties are currently rounding up campaigns as the election draws close, Nigerians are suffering amidst scarcity of cash, fuel and basic needs like electricity. It feels like everything is coming to a head on February 25th—where election day is expected to have record voter turnout.
I am proud to announce that on election day, I will be honoring my pledge to support those voting by supplying 15 vans that will drive throughout the Abuja, Lagos, and Ibadan states to offer free phone charging, WiFi, and water. I am doing this in partnership with the Young Africa Leaders Initiative (YALI), an international effort to invest in the next generation of African leaders. The YALI Network stands at over 700,000 youth strong and I am privileged to work with them to support the election.
We picked these specific states as they are expected to have high foot traffic and long lines on election day. Our goal is to support a positive atmosphere while voters take part in the democratic process where many people rely on their phones to stay connected and informed. We want to keep people hydrated and comfortable—as long lines at polling stations can be grueling.
The 2023 General Election in Nigeria is a pivotal moment for the country. In a region seeping with natural resources and a strong, growing youth population, Nigeria faces economic uncertainty—inflation is over 20%, people are struggling with the cost of living, and Nigeria is experiencing a “brain drain” of doctors, nurses, and engineers. At least 50 doctors leave Nigeria every week to work abroad. This is why the youth of Nigeria believe that this election will define the future of the country. These young people make up around 40% of voters and their future is riding on this election. Their political appetite matches up with what I am seeing and hearing on the ground.
While I am not native to Nigeria, I am a proud African, born on the continent. I have been fortunate enough to frequently visit this special country and meet with its people. I do this on behalf of Paxful, the company I founded whose mission is to end economic apartheid through peer-to-peer finance and Bitcoin—and with the Built With Bitcoin Foundation, my non-profit which has built and renovated twelve schools and education centers using Bitcoin. People on the ground are ready for change and financial prosperity. That’s why we’ve seen so many people turn to Bitcoin, as it allows everyday people, including the unbanked, to easily pay a bill or simply remit vital funds to a loved one.
Bitcoin is the signal for change and if any country is more capable—it’s Nigeria. The country has the largest population of youth in the world, with a median age of around 18 years—70% of its people are under 30 years old. This is their time. They love their home and want to see it thrive. We all do. I truly believe that Nigeria is leading Africa (and the world) into a financial golden age and this could be a moment that brings us closer to that prosperous future.
I know that my donation of water, charging and WiFi will only impact a fraction of the millions of voters. But I’m pushing forward to stand in solidarity with the people of Nigeria. You are warriors at heart, with entrepreneurship baked into your DNA—and I cannot see what change you bring on election day.
Make we jam for Naija.
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