E-naira may add $29bn to Nigeria’s GDP ― Buhari

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Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari has expressed optimism that the adoption of the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) and its underlying blockchain technology, can increase Nigeria’s GDP by $29 billion over the next 10 years.

Buhari who officially launched e-Naira at the presidential villa, Abuja on Monday, affirmed that the introduction of the e-Naira would enable the government to send direct payments to citizens eligible for specific welfare programmes as well as foster cross border trade.

The President, according to a statement from his media aide, Femi Adesina, said that alongside digital innovations, CBDCs can foster economic growth through better economic activities, increase remittances, improve financial inclusion and make monetary policy more effective.

“Let me note that aside from the global trend to create Digital Currencies, we believe that there are Nigeria-specific benefits that cut across different sectors of, and concerns of the economy,” the statement quoted the president as saying.

“The use of CBDCs can help move many more people and businesses from the informal into the formal sector, thereby increasing the tax base of the country.”

The President said with the launch of e-Naira, Nigeria has become the first country in Africa, and one of the first in the world to introduce a digital currency to her citizens.

He commended the Governor of the Central Bank, Godwin Emefiele, his deputies and the entire team of staff who worked tirelessly to make the launch of Africa’s first digital currency a reality.

President Buhari, who assured Nigerians of the safety and scalability of the CBDC system, said the journey to create a digital currency for Nigeria began sometime in 2017.

“Work intensified over the past several months with several brainstorming exercises, deployment of technical partners and advisers, collaboration with the Ministries of Communication and Digital Economy and its sister agencies like the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), integration of banking software across the country and painstaking tests to ensure the robustness, safety and scalability of the CBDC System, ” he said.

While explaining how he approved the use of digital currency, President Buhari stated: ”In recent times, the use of physical cash in conducting business and making payments has been on the decline. This trend has been exacerbated by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resurgence of a new Digital Economy.

“Alongside these developments, businesses, households, and other economic agents have sought for new means of making payments in the new circumstances.

“The absence of a swift and effective solution to these requirements, as well as fears that Central Banks’ actions sometimes lead to hyperinflation created the space for non-government entities to establish new forms of “private currencies” that seemed to have gained popularity and acceptance across the world, including here in Nigeria…

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