A 2022 Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) Global Index released by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has commended the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) eNaira and the Sand Dollar of the Bahamas, saying they led the retail project indexes of central banks globally. In the report, ‘The Race to Digital Money Is on’, PwC analysed and ranked the leading retail and wholesale CBDC projects, as well as evaluated the current stage of CBDC project development.
The report said: “Retail projects in the Index are led by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) eNaira, the first CBDC in Africa, and the Sand Dollar, issued by the Central Bank of the Bahamas as legal tender in October 2020, making Bahamas the first country to launch a CBDC.”
Interestingly, it also said that over 80 percent of central banks were considering launching a CBDC or might have done so already. Recall that CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele’s CBN introduced the eNaira as part of measures to deepen financial inclusion, integrate millions of unbanked Nigerians into the banking system and create a more secure alternative to unregulated virtual currencies sometimes used to perpetrate fraud and other criminalities.
Despite the initial pessimism by some quarters, the eNaira app had recorded almost 600,000 downloads in less than four weeks of its introduction. Experts believe that thanks to Emefiele’s sagacity, Nigeria’s eNaira will most likely have a positive impact on CBDC development in other African countries where financial inclusion is regarded as an important part of economic development. On several occasions, Emefiele has reiterated his focus on his core role as chairman of Nigeria’s reserve bank, and the apex bank’s over 35 purpose-driven economic intervention programmes which were introduced by him and which continue to boost the nation’s economy.