Rwanda to adopt digital currency by 2026

Rwanda follows examples from other African countries, incorporating public consultations and international testing.


Rwanda aims to develop its own national Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) within the next two years. According to the National Bank of Rwanda (BNR), that initiative will offer Rwandans a secure, cost-free, and convenient alternative to physical cash. The CBDC is anticipated to boost financial inclusion, enabling more unbanked individuals to engage in the formal economy. Soraya Hakuziyaremye, Deputy Governor of Rwanda’s Central Bank, disclosed the 2026 target during an interview. She emphasised the importance of Rwanda’s CBDC, noting similar developments in other countries in the continent, including Nigeria, Ghana, and South Africa, which are either piloting or have already launched their own CBDCs.

Hakuziyaremye also noted that, considering Rwanda’s aspirations for ICT development and a cashless economy, it was essential to evaluate the potential benefits of following other countries’ examples, especially that  the country’s major trading partners are testing or adopting the technology. In November 2023, National Bank of Rwanda Governor John Rwangombwa announced during the presentation of the central bank’s annual report for the fiscal year 2022/2023 to a joint parliamentary session that the CBDC was in development. In May 2024, the Deputy Governor, working alongside the Ministry of Finance, ICT, and Innovation, formed a task force for a feasibility study on CBDC in Rwanda in order to explore the technological requirements, regulatory frameworks, and potential risks.

The Deputy Governor mentioned that the authority published a research paper and held a public consultation process to address various concerns and ensure the CBDC benefits the population, including data privacy, system resilience, and the potential destabilization of the financial system. After the public consultation process ends in the next four weeks, Rwanda will begin a proof of concept to test the technology, design, and speed on a small scale. Additionally, a six-month international test will be conducted to evaluate the technology for cross-border payments. Following these tests, selected individuals and companies will participate in testing the digital currency. While considering various CBDC design options, Rwanda prefers a retail CBDC distributed through banks and an offline-accessible CBDC, which would be particularly useful in areas without internet access or smartphones, or during power outages.

Why does it matter? 

The introduction of a CBDC in Rwanda holds significant importance for: 

  •  Economic Growth and Stability, as it contributes to a more stable and resilient economy by improving the efficiency of monetary policy implementation. That can lead to better control of inflation and economic stability.
  • Financial Inclusion in a country where a significant portion of the population remains unbanked or underbanked. A digital currency can provide easier access to financial services especially to individuals in remote and underserved areas.
  • Cost Efficiency by the reduction of the costs associated with producing and managing physical cash (savings on printing, transportation, and storage) 
  • Enhanced Security and Transparency due to its higher level of security compared to physical cash, reducing the risk of counterfeiting and fraud. The use of blockchain or similar technologies can ensure greater transparency and traceability of transactions, vital for combating money laundering and other illicit activities.
  • Technological Advancement through financial technology that can attract investment, stimulate innovation, and create new job opportunities in the tech sector.