The Central African Republic became the second country to make Bitcoin an official currency, despite massive backlash from the public. The CAR announced its plans for the launch of its own cryptocurrency, the Sango, and the “first African crypto-hub” with “zero taxes”. The news came from President Faustin Archange Touadéra at an online event. The announcement was accompanied by plans for a Crypto Island, which would act as “the catalyst for the tokenization of the vast natural resources” of the Central African Republic.
The “Sango initiative”, named for the official language alongside French, comes amid the global cryptocurrency crisis, in which the price of bitcoin is in free fall and many crypto platforms are in financial trouble. Considering Africa suffers from a glaring lack of “infrastructure” making financial services almost inaccessible to many inhabitants, Touadéra asserts that “we’ve found the solution”: “the smartphone,” to trade and invest in cryptocurrencies.
“The smartphone is the alternative to traditional banking, cash and financial bureaucracy,” said the president of the second least developed country in the World according to the UN, where only 14.3% of the more than 5 million inhabitants have access to electricity in 2022, and even less to the internet, of which 71% live below the international poverty line (less than 1.90 US dollars per day) and more than half need humanitarian assistance, according to the World Bank. “Sango Coin will give the world direct access to our resources” to attract investors and “jump-start the economy,” enthused the head of state.
By the end of April, bitcoin had been adopted as a reference currency, causing puzzlement and disapproval among an international community already blaming Mr. Touadéra for having delivered his country to Russia and the “mercenaries” of Wagner, accused by them of “looting” its resources for military support against the rebels. Since 2013, a very deadly civil war has ravaged the Central African Republic, although its intensity has decreased since 2018.