From Uche Usim and Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
History was made in Nigeria on Monday following the formal unveiling of the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), also called the eNaira, which is the first in Africa and among the few in the world; by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Already, millions of anxious Nigerians have downloaded the eNaira mobile app and are set for operations; just as 33 banks have been fully integrated on the eNaira platform. Again, 2,000 customers have been onboarded and 120 merchants registered on the portal; while the website records 2.5 million daily visits. N500 million has been successfully minted by the apex bank and N200 million issued to financial institutions.
Speaking at the event, the President noted that the embrace of the CBDC and its underlying technology, called block chain, has the potential of swelling Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by $29 billion over the next 10 years.
The President also declared that the introduction of the eNaira would enable the government to send direct payments to citizens eligible for specific welfare programmes as well as foster cross border trade.
According to him, the CBDCs can foster economic growth through better economic activities, increase remittances, improve financial inclusion and make monetary policy more effective by leveraging digital innovations.
He said: ‘’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 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,’’ he said.
The President said with the launch of eNaira, Nigeria has become the first country in Africa, and one of the first in the world to introduce a Digital Currency to her citizens.
Buhari called for close monitoring and supervision of the eNaira particularly “at the early stages of implementation to study the effect of eNaira on the economy as a whole”.
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.