The Central African Republic has legally recognized the use of cryptocurrency after the president approved a law passed by MPs last week that also made bitcoin an official currency alongside the West African CFA franc.

President Faustin Archange Touadera validated the law on Wednesday, saying that the exchange rate between cryptocurrencies and the FCFA is freely determined by the market.

Tax contributions can also be paid in cryptocurrencies through government-recognized platforms, a statement said.

He said the country is now the “first in Africa to adopt bitcoin as a benchmark currency.”

The Central African Republic is one of the poorest countries in the world, according to the United Nations, and has been in a state of insecurity and increasing violence for nine years.

The government controls the capital, but much of the country is controlled by armed groups.

Many officials and civil society groups, including Citizens in Solidarity with the Central African Republic, have protested the law, saying it jeopardizes national sovereignty.

“By imposing crypto-currencies as national currency, the power of Bangui has just sold off the little that still remained of the authority of the State and its power to control its economy, and therefore its development”, declared the group in a press release.

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