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A First for the Continent as Abuja Launches eNaira

Many Nigerians are optimistic as Africa’s largest economy gears up to launch the continent’s first central bank-backed digital currency, the eNaira. Authorities hope to tap into the popularity of cryptocurrency so it can better monitor digital currency transactions, curb black market trading in the paper naira and also help integrate millions of Nigerians into banking. But critics say the digital currency will also give Nigeria’s central bank more control. The launch of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) digital currency, or the eNaira, was initially scheduled for October 1 as part of activities to mark Nigeria’s Independence Day – but was postponed by authorities. The CBN’s communications director, Osita Nwanisobi, did not disclose the new launch date in a statement released on the bank’s social media handle. But local reports say the eNaira website recorded more than one million hits in the hours ahead of the initial launch – what blockchain experts like Janet Kaatyo say is a welcome development.