Is CAR Bitcoin Adoption a Colonial Protest?

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  • The Central African Republic announced that it was adopting Bitcoin last month
  • The country was colonised by the French in the 1880s and its currency is still tied to France
  • Bitcoin is likely being used as a way of ditching this colonial past

Lots has been written about the Central African Republic (CAR) adopting Bitcoin, with several theories offered as to why one of the world’s poorest countries is doing so. After all, unless a Lightning Network framework is put in place, citizens won’t want to spend the transaction fees required in order to send payments on the main network. One theory has risen up which has to do more with CAR’s colonial past than anything money related, and Bitcoin could be the tool that its citizens are using as their form of protest.

Central African Republic Currency Still Tied to France

It’s a fair bet that many Bitcoin supporters hadn’t heard of CAR until last month when Obed Namsio, the country’s chief of staff, announced on Facebook that the country was adopting Bitcoin as a reference currency. This got Bitcoiners all excited, proclaiming that one of the world’s poorest countries was ditching fiat currency for Bitcoin, but the truth, as ever, might not be as simple as that.

France seized the Ubangi-Shari territory (now the Central African Republic) in 1895, and despite gaining independence in 1960, CAR’s currency, the Central African (CFA) franc, still acts as a reminder of its colonial past. The CFA franc is pegged to the euro and guaranteed by France. Although that has brought a degree of financial stability, it has come at the cost of monetary independence, leading to many in the region resenting it.

Bitcoin is a Chance to Break Free

Bitcoin represents the first chance of CAR’s citizens to finally put one of the last vestiges of the country’s colonial past behind them, although quite how successful this will be of course remains to be seen – after all, we’re still in the experimental stage of ‘Bitcoin-as-a-currency’.

Should Bitcoiners be concerned that the people of CAR are using their beloved currency as a way to thumb their nose at the former French overlords, rather than using it as it was intended?

If you don’t know the answer to that, you don’t know much about Bitcoin.