An African country, the Central African Republic (CAR), becomes the second country in the world, after El Salvador, to adopt Bitcoin as a national currency. As its name says it, CAR is a country in Central Africa. The country of the late Jean-Bedel Bokassa is rich in diamonds, gold, uranium, and other precious minerals; yet it is one of the poorest countries in the world (when you have the FCFA as a currency, can it be any different?).
On Wednesday, a bill to adopt Bitcoin as the country’s legal tender was passed unanimously by the parliament. The office of CAR president, Faustin-Archange Touadera, claimed the move would “improve the conditions of Central African citizens” and distinguish CAR as “of the world’s boldest and most visionary countries.” I couldn’t have said it any better… it is about time to get rid of the FCFA [The 11 Components of the French Colonial Tax in Africa] anyways, why not do it in style? Excerpts below are from the BBC.
The Central African Republic (CAR) has approved Bitcoin as legal tender – just the second country to do so.
CAR is one of the world’s poorest countries, but is rich in diamonds, gold and uranium. It has been wracked by conflict for decades and is a close Russian ally, with mercenaries from the Wagner Group helping fight rebel forces. Lawmakers voted unanimously to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender, said a statement from the CAR presidency. The move puts CAR “on the map of the world’s boldest and most visionary countries“, it said.
… Others have raised fears that cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin could make it easier for criminals to launder money, and that they are environmentally damaging because they use so much electricity to generate [as if exploiting uranium was eco-friendly! could they possibly be happy when the golden hen is going away?]. The internet is needed to use any cryptocurrency but in 2019, just 4% of people in CAR had access to the web, according to the WorldData website.
The country currently uses the French-backed CFA franc as its currency, along with most other former French colonies in Africa. Some see the adoption of Bitcoin as an attempt to undermine the CFA, amid a contest for influence over the resource-rich country between Russia and France. “The context, given the systemic corruption and a Russian partner facing international sanctions, does encourage suspicion,” French analyst Thierry Vircoulon told the AFP news agency [of course, France will be suspicious of former slave colonies finding friendship elsewhere].
In the capital, Bangui, the response was mixed. Economist Yann Daworo told BBC Afrique it would make life easier, as transactions can be made with smartphones and it was easy to convert Bitcoin to any other currency. “Businessmen will no longer have to walk around with suitcases of CFA francs that will have to be converted into dollars or any other currency to make purchases abroad,” he said.
He also argued that the CFA was not being used “to benefit Africa” [preach cousin]. There are growing calls in several countries for the currency to be dropped by those who see it as a relic of the colonial era, enabling France to continue to exercise economic control.
However, computer scientist Sydney Tickaya said he thought the adoption of the cryptocurrency was “premature” and “irresponsible“. “Internet access is still underdeveloped in the country while Bitcoin depends entirely on the internet,” he said, adding that the CAR had more pressing issues such as security, education and access to drinking water [sure… but after over 100 years of dealing with France and the FCFA, and not even getting simple roads or education or water, while your diamonds are exploited without you getting a dime, isn’t it time to try something different? when will it be mature enough, or responsible enough to take a leap?] .