Rwandan Central Bank set to launch digital currency in 2026- Deputy Governor

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Rwandan Central Bank set to launch digital currency in 2026- Deputy Governor

Rwanda plans to launch its Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) within the next two years. According to Soraya Hakuziyaremye, the Deputy Governor of the National Bank of Rwanda (BNR), the digital currency will provide citizens with a safe, free, and convenient alternative to physical cash.

In an interview with the New Times, Soraya indicated that the initiative aimed to boost the country’s financial inclusion and modernise Rwanda’s payment system is expected to be rolled out in 2026.

“This digital currency promises Rwandans a secure, free, and convenient alternative to cash. It is also expected to bring more people into the formal financial sector, particularly the unbanked population,” she said.

Hakuziyaremye emphasised the project’s urgency, citing the growing trend of CBDCs in Africa, with neighbouring countries like Nigeria, Ghana, and South Africa already exploring the technology. Rwanda’s major trading partners are also testing or adopting digital currencies, further driving the need to keep pace.

She also disclosed during the interview that a proof-of-concept phase will commence shortly, testing the technology, design, and transaction speed on a small scale to ensure a smooth rollout.

According to Soraya Hakuziyaremye, the Deputy Governor of the National Bank of Rwanda (BNR), the digital currency will provide citizens with a safe, free, and convenient alternative to physical cash.
Rwanda President, Paul Kagame

“This will be followed by a six-month international pilot focused on cross-border payments. And the digital currency will be tested by individuals and businesses before a wider launch,” Hakuziyaremye added.

Recall that in May 2024, the government introduced a feasibility study on a CBDC in Rwanda. The study will examine the potential benefits, risks, and practicalities of implementing a retail CBDC in Rwanda. This follows an announcement by the Governor of the BNR last November during the presentation of the central bank’s annual report for the fiscal year 2022/2023 to a joint plenary session of Parliament that a CBDC was being developed.

The Deputy Governor explained that the study revealed numerous opportunities for Rwanda to adopt a national digital currency.

Read also: What East African countries can learn from Nigeria as they move towards regional CBDC

She also explained that the Central Bank published a research paper from a public consultation process. According to her, the report addresses stakeholders’ concerns about data privacy, resilience and other potential dangers to the financial system. She also claimed that the report highlights a roadmap to make the CBDC beneficial to all citizens as well as increase adoption.

The deputy governor also pointed out that the country will embark on a test of proof of concept for the technology, design, and speed on a small scale in the next four weeks. The apex bank will also conduct a six-month international test on the technology for cross-border payments. Following this, individuals and companies will be mapped out to test the digital currency.

Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC)
The advent of digital currencies in Africa 

As the global financial landscape evolves, Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC) have gained attention as a potential game-changer. In Africa, however, the adoption of CBDC has been tepid, with Nigeria being the sole pioneer in implementing its digital currency.

Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Madagascar, Mauritius, and Madagascar are also researching the possibility of a central-backed digital currency. If adopted, the region will join a small list of nations that have launched a digital currency.

Nigeria took a bold step by launching its CBDC, the eNaira, to enhance financial inclusion and reduce transaction costs. Despite this move, the broader adoption of CBDC across the country has been sluggish. 

Similarly, Ghana (E-Cedi) and South Africa have introduced pilot programs for digital currency, signalling hope for increased adoption by more African regions (West and South). The Bahamas also rolled out the Sand Dollar in October 2020 followed by Nigeria’s eNaira in October 2021, and then China by the end of 2021 with E-CNY otherwise called “Digital Yuan”. 

Read also: eNaira sees a 63% spike in transactions amid Naira scarcity, yet most Nigerians remain indifferent


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