RTL Today – Currency launch project: Central African Republic dives into crypto with Sango
Undeterred by the turmoil in crypto, the Central African Republic (CAR) – one of the poorest and most troubled countries in the world – has unveiled plans to launch its own digital currency.
President Faustin Archange Touadera, during an “online event” on Sunday, announced that the CAR would create the Sango Coin and a zero-tax “crypto-hub”, the first in Africa.
The currency is named after Sango, which, along with French, is one of the two official languages of the landlocked country, ranked the second poorest country in the world according to the UN’s Human Development Index.
Through a platform called Crypto Island, the Sango will become “the catalyst for the tokenization (RCA) of vast natural resources,” Touadera said, without providing a timeline or other details.
He hailed Sango and Crypto Island as “a new digital system powered by blockchain”, the internet-based ledger that underpins cryptocurrencies.
“Sango Coin will give the whole world direct access to our resources,” attracting investors and “starting the engines of the economy,” he enthused.
On April 27, Touadera’s office abruptly announced that CAR had adopted Bitcoin as legal tender alongside the CFA franc, a currency the country shares with five other Central African economies.
It became the first country in Africa to adopt Bitcoin as its national currency, and the second in the world after El Salvador last September.
The April announcement sparked bewilderment among analysts, given the entrenched poverty and lack of infrastructure in CAR, where only one in seven people have access to the power grid.
They also expressed concern about the impact of crypto volatility on savings.
Virtual currencies have fallen as investors turn to safer havens at a time of inflation and war-induced uncertainty in Ukraine.
Bitcoin has lost nearly 60% of its value over the past six months.
– “Digital gold” –
Touadera said on Sunday that 57% of Africa’s population does not have access to a bank.
“The solution”, he said, was “the smartphone, the alternative to traditional banking, cash and financial hassles”.
On Twitter, he said, “Gold has driven our civilization for centuries! In this new era, digital gold will drive the future as well.”
CAR’s crypto rush has been seen by some critics in the context of its closer ties to Russia.
Touadera has been accused of using Russian paramilitaries to bolster his regime and offering CAR natural resources in return.
The country has a treasure chest of minerals, ranging from copper and gold to diamonds and uranium.
The CAR, a former French colony, plunged into a sectarian civil war in 2013 after the ousting of then-president François Bozizé.
Touadera was first elected in 2016 after an interim period and re-elected under contested circumstances in 2020.
Violence decreased in 2018 but rebel forces remain active.