POSITIVES AMID STRAITS

CAR’s Limboed Bitcoin Push Finally Brings Positives

By  |  May 26, 2023

The International Monetary Fund has released an outlook on the economics of the Central African Republic (CAR), a country situated at the heart of Africa. The report, released in coincidence with the first anniversary of CAR’s crypto ride, offers some positives amidst a cloud of uncertainty around the country’s choice of conduit for financial inclusion. 

The IMF predicts the landlocked country’s real GDP growth to rebound to 2.2 percent in 2023, majorly as a result of policy adjustments and the sentiments hallowing the government’s decision to legalize crypto when its peers elsewhere in the continent are either illegalizing them outrightly or asking citizens to trade with caution. 

In an all-of-no-sudden development equidistant with financial reforms, the CAR became the world’s second nation (after El Salvador) and first in Africa to give Bitcoin transactions the much-priced greenlight. The endeavor, although frequently put into question, is said to have painted pretty pictures depicting the country’s economic inclinations. 

Soon after approving Bitcoin, the CAR launched Sango, a project which with the Faustin-Archange Touadera-led country entered the world of cryptocurrencies, and by extension, the metaverse. Chiefly, Sango was meant to support access and allocation of the country’s natural resources such as gold, diamonds, uranium, lithium, and oil to crypto projects.

Be as it may, the CAR’s drive to become a crypto hub has more or less been encumbered by delays and misfits. The Sango coin, for instance, remains to be listed on crypto exchanges due to regulatory drawbacks and unfavorable market conditions. Even if that were not the case, the market lacks the digital infrastructure needed to adopt the asset at scale, as it is one of the world’s poorest nations. 

Per a WeeTracker coverage on the matter, the CAR needs to make the motives behind the ambition much clearer and execute in a manner that does not undermine regional monetary policies. As it is yet to, the entire proposition is lying in limbo. 

According to the IMF report, revoking Bitcoin’s legal tender status and convertibility for crypto assets was needed to ensure consistency with CEMAC’s monetary framework and start de-risking the project “Sango. 

“The unilateral adoption of Bitcoin and potentially other crypto assets as legal tender represented a major policy reversal relative to commitments under the SMP and delayed and prevented its successful completion, in addition to further damage CAR’s prospects for budget support,” says the economic think tank. 

Thanks to the illegalization, the Sango coin cannot be used to purchase, as promised by the government, e-residency, citizenship, land, and natural resources. As a result, the project is yet to be implemented. 

“So far less than US$2 million worth of Sango coin is estimated to have been sold (0.2) percent of total planned issuance, far behind schedule). The coin is also not yet traded, as holdings are locked for one year, and other elements of the project have not yet been implemented,” the report notes. 

Notwithstanding the ups and downs, the expansion of the Central African Republic’s economic expansion is attributed to factors like base effect and policy adjustments aimed at increasing fuel supply. The IMF anticipates the market’s inflation to average a rate of 6.3 percent.  

Meanwhile, its  Board has approved an Extended Credit Facility (ECF) arrangement of about USD 191.4 M with the Central African Republic (CAR). The ECF-supported program will help meet CAR’s protracted balance of payments needs, sustain priority spending on basic public services in health and education, and provide a policy framework to advance key reforms. 

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