The Central African Republic‘s president, Faustin-Archange Touadera, on Sunday said cryptocurrencies were key to reducing financial exclusion in the country as he outlined plans to make crypto available to citizens easily via a smartphone.
Touadera spoke at the formal launch of the Sango crypto hub project, of which he is the main driver, after the country in April became the first in Africa to make Bitcoin legal tender.
“The alternative to cash is cryptocurrency,” he said at the event. “For us, the formal economy is no longer an option.”
The rush to adopt crypto technologies has raised questions from some experts, given the Republic’s low internet usage and unreliable electricity.
The International Monetary Fund has expressed caution about Sango and in May the World Bank said it would not be “supporting Sango” over “transparency” issues and “potential implications for financial inclusion”.
The plan has remained undeterred by cryptocurrencies’ recent plunge in value, with Bitcoin dropping more than 58 percent over the past three months, according to Refinitiv.
The project includes its own cryptocurrency, Sango Coin, and a metaverse platform called The Crypto Island that is billed as “the only metaverse backed by reality”, as it will have a real-life counterpart in a low-tax zone near the Oubangui River.
The initiative aims to attract businesses and those interested or skilled in crypto, increase crypto adoption and spur the rollout of crypto regulatory frameworks and infrastructure.
The vision for Sango is a “common cryptocurrency and an integrated capital market that could stimulate commerce and sustain growth”, Touadera said at the event.
He said the scheme would spur economic development and offer citizens access to “virtual transactions which, in contrast to traditional banking, have the advantage of rapid access, fast execution, lack of bureaucracy, and low cost”.
The country aims to issue tokens linked to its abundant natural resources in order to open up greater investment into their exploitation, with citizen identity and ownership of assets also to be tokenised.
Crypto Island is to facilitate the system, serving as a way for verified users to gain access to tokenised assets, according to the plan.
The country also plans to develop a local wallet for Bitcoin that is specifically designed for the Lightning Network that speeds up Bitcoin transactions.
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