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Bitcoin accepted as Central African Republic’s official currency

The Central African Republic’s presidency announced that bitcoin has been approved as an official currency, making it the first in Africa and just the second in the world to do so.

Despite its gold and diamond riches, the Central African Republic is one of the world’s poorest and least-developed countries, plagued by rebel conflict for years. A bill controlling the usage of cryptocurrencies was overwhelmingly passed by parliament last week, according to a statement signed by Obed Namsio, President Faustin-Archange Touadera’s chief of staff. “The president supports this bill because it would better the lives of Central African residents,” Namsio said to Reuters without going into detail. He described it as “a decisive step” in his remarks.

The Central African Republic is one of six countries that utilise the CFA franc, a regional currency administered by the Bank of Central African States (BEAC). Two of the country’s past prime ministers signed a letter last week expressing alarm about bitcoin adoption without BEAC direction, calling it a ‘major infraction’.  “The BEAC learned of the enactment of a new law on cryptocurrencies in Central African Republic at the same time as the public,” a BEAC spokesman told Reuters, adding that the bank had yet to receive an official reaction.

Last year, El Salvador became the first country in the world to recognise bitcoin as legal cash, but the implementation was slowed by scepticism, and the country postponed a proposed bitcoin bond in March amid global market instability. The regulation of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology in Africa has taken a variety of forms.

Last year, before creating its own digital currency, the eNaira, Nigeria’s central bank prohibited domestic institutions from dealing with cryptocurrencies. South African regulators are looking into how cryptocurrencies and other blockchain technologies might be regulated, and Tanzania’s central bank announced last year that it was working on a presidential directive to prepare for cryptocurrencies.