There have been several reports in the international press claiming that the Central African Republic (CAR) has “adopted bitcoin (BTC)” as “legal tender” – while reports from some other media outlets claim this is not true and instead, CAR approved a legal framework aimed at fully legalizing the use of crypto within the country. There have been no official confirmations from the CAR government.
This is erringly similar to misinterpreted news that Russian finance ministry wanted to give BTC “legal tender status.” but instead the ministry only wanted to “legalize” the sector. El Salvador is the only country in the world where BTC is a legal tender.
In early April, a blog post on the Africa-focused news website The African Exponent claimed that “The Central African Republic (CAR) has become the first African country in the world to adopt bitcoin (BTC) as legal tender.” The article further noted: “The move was made official on March 21 in Bangui, the capital city of CAR. President Faustin-Archange Touadera said that his government would allow businesses and individuals to buy and sell goods and services using bitcoin.”
This move will see CAR joining El Salvador as the only countries in the world that accept bitcoin as a legal tender.
Recognized media outlets such as Forbes Monaco claimed that a “draft law establishing both the legal framework for cryptocurrency regulation and bitcoin as an official currency” had been approved in parliament.
However, the National Assembly of the Central African Republic (CAR) has since clarified that no such law has been passed. In a statement issued on March 25, the legislative body said that it is currently working on a “comprehensive legal framework” for digital assets but emphasized that no law has been enacted yet.
The statement did not address all the confusion regarding the matter, it appeared to suggest that the government wants to allow crypto to be used as a means of sending and receiving international remittances.
The Central African Republic is not the first country in Africa to be linked with rumors of Bitcoin becoming legal tender. Earlier this month, Zimbabwe was hit with similar reports after its minister of information reportedly said that the government was mulling over the idea. However, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe quickly shot down those claims, saying that the country’s laws do not allow for crypto to be used as legal tender.
The Minister of the Postal Service and Telecommunications in CAR, Justin Gourna Zacko was quoted as “highlighting the restrictive framework of the central bank,” and claiming that “digital currencies” had “many advantages.” The minister added that it was currently “very difficult” to process international remittances for CAR citizens.
However, the director-general of the country’s Reserve Bank, Mr. Victor Tony Ndanga quickly rubbished Zacko’s statements in an interview with local media. He said:
“The Central African Republic has not yet considered making Bitcoin a legal tender in the country … We are currently working on a regulatory framework for all financial institutions in the country so that we can better understand how to deal with this new phenomenon.”
Ndanga’s rebuttal of Zacko’s statements was also backed by an unnamed source from the Presidency, who told Jeune Afrique that “the idea of making Bitcoin a legal tender does not come from the Presidency.”
It is still unclear what the Central African Republic’s government plans to do about its cryptocurrency rumors. However, if the country does decide to make Bitcoin legal tender, it would certainly be a major boost for the adoption of cryptocurrencies in Africa.