Music mogul Jay-Z makes strategic entry into Africa’s Bitcoin space

BY Ben Ebuka Oji October 11, 2023 2:58 PM EDT
Jack Dorsey and Jay-Z
Jack Dorsey and Jay-Z

Btrust, a non-profit funded by music billionaire Jay-Z and Block CEO Jack Dorsey, has acquired Qala, the leading organization that trains the next generation of African Bitcoin and lightning engineers.

This significant investment represents one of the latest high-profile contributions to the African Bitcoin market. The deal, which was sealed on September 1, 2023, marks a defining moment in the nascent Bitcoin space of Africa and holds much potential for the growth of the continent.

As a result of the acquisition, Qala has rebranded to Bitrust Builders, to strengthen both institution’s mutual mission of bolstering the development and education of Bitcoin Open-Source developers from across the Global South.

Africa’s emerging Bitcoin ecosystem, bedeviled with the lack of needed infrastructures to meet the growing demand in the market, will hopefully benefit from this merger. Qala, which possesses an essential framework but lacks the financial resources to advance its mission, is now bolstered by Btrust, which possesses substantial financial resources and technical know-how.


Founded in 2021 by Jack Dorsey and Jay-Z, Btrust aims to foster the development of software engineers and related talents and support the free and Open-Source Bitcoin ecosystem by identifying, assisting, educating, and empowering Bitcoin Open-Source engineers from the Global South. Btrust is currently led by a Board of Directors comprising diverse talents – Abubakar Nur, Carla Kirk-Cohen, Obi Nwosu, and Ojoma Ochai. Btrust proudly sponsors the African Bitcoin Conference – a yearly gathering of Bitcoin stakeholders from Africa and beyond to sustain the Bitcoin revolution in the continent through building an accommodating ecosystem that will bolster the adoption of Bitcoin in Africa.


Qala was launched in 2021 by two Btrust board members, Nur Khalil, and Carla Kirk-Cohen, alongside Bernard Parah and Tim Akinbo. Qala identifies, trains, mentors, and pairs software developers in Africa with leading Bitcoin companies around the world. Qala aims to equip software engineers with the most relevant skills required in the global Bitcoin market. With its developer network spanning over 42 countries, including Nigeria, Kenya, and Uganda, and an impressive fellowship placement rate, Qala assists developers to secure roles in leading firms like Galoy, SphinxChat, Bitnob, and Superlunar.

Btrust Builders (formerly Qala)

With the conclusion of the acquisition, the new platform, now known as Btrust Builders, is now more positioned as a comprehensive engineering platform designated to identify and develop the next generation of Bitcoin and Lightning developers. Btrust Builders is repurposed and enhanced to create a clear functional pathway for developers to transition into a career in Bitcoin and Lightning Open-Source development.

In living up to its mission, Btrust Builders launched the ‘Build Africa’ hackathon on September 2023, as a collaborative problem-solving initiative, where participants in the ‘Build Africa’ hackathon will converge to generate novel ideas focused on tackling Africa’s unique challenges, accelerate various Bitcoin projects in the continent, and increase Bitcoin adoption across the entire continent.

Today’s announcement significantly accelerates this mission, strengthening our capacity to not only expand our existing community but effectively resource them to play a major role in influencing Bitcoin’s open-source development as a vital solution to Africa’s unique socio-economic challenges. With this in mind, we strongly believe our new transition should not only be viewed as a massive boost for the Bitcoin ecosystem, but a crucial foundation in leveraging Bitcoin as the gateway and catalyst to financial freedom in Africa and the Global South.”

Bernard Parah