In the Central African Republic, bitcoin and war of influence

CIt could be the inspiring story of a tormented nation that chooses, against all odds, to project itself into the future and modernity. to place “on the map of the most courageous and visionary countries in the world”as the presidency of the Central African Republic (CAR) congratulated itself by announcing, at the end of April, that it was adopting bitcoin as legal tender.

Such an interpretation, however, hardly comes to mind in connection with this decision, which has left more than one speechless. An approach in which it is difficult to find the slightest economic rationality, whatever the end by which it is examined. Introducing cryptocurrency as the official currency seems far-fetched at best in a 188-ranked countrye out of 189 by the United Nations on the Human Development Index. Out of a population of some 5 million people, only one in ten has access to the Internet and one in six to electricity.

What singularly complicates the use of this currency, whose “mining” – these complex calculations which are used to create bitcoin and authenticate transactions – is a very energy-intensive process. Lack of infrastructure at the level, it is also in Dubai that the electronic money mining company should be located, as revealed on May 10 by the site Africa Intelligence. According to his information, the Central African President Faustin-Archange Touadéra was to go to the Emirate on Thursday May 12 to supervise its launch.

Read also: Bitcoin, adopted as the official currency in the Central African Republic, is not a “panacea”, warns the IMF

In the grip of an interminable civil war, the Central African Republic does not lack other urgent projects: security of course, but also access to energy, education, road construction… Assuming that bitcoin can contribute to “Improve the living conditions of citizens”, as assured by Bangui, also seems very risky, given the extreme volatility of the digital currency. Its value has almost halved since its high point in November 2021, and it can experience variations, up or down, of more than 10% in a single day. Fluctuations that are difficult to absorb for economic agents (civil servants, companies, etc.) who would be paid in this asset.

Just look at the precedent of El Salvador, the first country in the world to officially adopt bitcoin, in September 2021, alongside the US dollar. Eight months later, its use by citizens remains confidential, as revealed by a recent study by economists Fernando Alvarez, David Argente and Diana Van Patten. Because they don’t understand how it works, don’t trust it and are afraid of its chronic instability, the vast majority of Salvadorans turn their backs on it.

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