South Africa and Swaziland have the friendliest cryptocurrency environment in Sub-Saharan Africa according to an Ecobank report. The South African Revenue Service (SARS) has recently proposed cryptocurrency tax regulations while the Central Bank of Swaziland (CBS) has issued a positive statement on cryptocurrencies.
“It may not be wise to dismiss virtual currencies and as the CBS we are learning and we want to accept and support innovation. If this is innovation, we do not want to stifle it. We want to learn more about it,” CBS chief Majozi Sithole said at an economic forum in October last year.
According to the Ecobank report, Namibia is the only country that has termed cryptocurrencies as illegal. The country’s laws does not make provision for the establishment of virtual currency exchanges or bureaus in Namibia. This means that cryptocurrencies are illegal in Namibia and merchants are prohibited from accepting them in exchange for goods and services.
In September 2017, the Bank of Namibia released the following statement: “In addition to the bank not recognizing virtual currencies as legal tender in Namibia, it also does not recognize it to be a foreign currency that can be exchanged for local currency. This is because virtual currencies are neither issued nor guaranteed by a central bank nor backed by any commodity.”
However, the report also acknowledges that cryptocurrencies can facilitate the flow of remittances.
Countries That Are Silent on Cryptocurrency Regulation
The Ecobank report has identified several Sub-Saharan countries that have not taken a public stance on cryptocurrencies. These countries include South Sudan, Niger, Sierra Leone, Togo, São Tomé and Príncipe, Mali, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Gabon, and Gambia, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, DRC, Chad, Central African Republic, Burundi, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Angola, and Benin.
Some of these countries are members of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) whose central banks is the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO). BCEAO reportedly launched a regional digital currency eCFA which it has since denied saying “not considering [creating] digital currency in any of its member states.”
The Status of Cryptocurrency Regulation in Other African Countries
Countries that have taken a contentious stance with regards to cryptocurrencies are Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. Although these countries have taken a contentious stance, they are continually monitoring the space while warning citizens of the risks involved in trading cryptocurrencies. In Kenya, the AI and blockchain taskforce has recommended the creation of a local digital currency.
On the other hand, countries such as Rwanda, Ghana, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Senegal, and Zambia are conducting research on cryptocurrencies but have issued warnings as well.