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CAR Touts Crypto Over Cash

FILE: Representations of the virtual currency Bitcoin and Ethereum stand on a motherboard in this picture illustration taken 5.2-.2021

Cryptocurrencies are the solution to tackling financial exclusion in the Central African Republic, its President Faustin-Archange Touadera said on Sunday, citing the cost of opening bank accounts.

Central African Republic's move to adopt cryptocurrencies in a country where internet use is low and electricity unreliable has raised eyebrows among crypto experts, puzzled lawmakers and residents, and drawn words of caution from the International Monetary Fund.

President Faustin-Archange Touadera declared Sunday that "The alternative to cash is cryptocurrency," he said at a launch event for crypto initiative Sango hosted by the country, after it became the first African state to make bitcoin legal tender in April. "For us, the formal economy is no longer an option."

The Sango project, including a "Sango Coin", was backed by the Central African Republic's National Assembly and spearheaded by Touadera, who said the token would provide access to the country's "mountain" of natural resources, including gold and diamonds.

While Touadera touts cryptocurrencies, these so-called "currencies" have taken a stiff beating in the marketplace, raising questions as to why CAR would consider holding crypto as a "reserve currency." While the leading cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, was valued at some US$69,000 in November, 2021, its current value is under $19,500 - representing over a trillion dollars in value lost.