What is the state of crypto adoption in the Maghreb? The question is not trivial, especially since the region is far from being the crypto locomotive of the continent. In this area, it is above all sub-Saharan Africa which stands out, led in particular by Nigeria. The figures show that in this West African country, more and more people are holding cryptos or are aware of their existence. In truth, several Maghreb countries are not left out of this dynamic even if we must recognize the relative weakness of this enthusiasm. In the following lines, we are interested in the trends in the adoption of cryptos in the Maghreb and the reasons behind them.
Adoption of crypto in the Maghreb: the countries that stand out the most
A few months ago, in July 2023 precisely, data concerning the African countries most interested in crypto leaked. They reveal a restrictive list of 15 States alone recording the greatest African enthusiasm for digital assets. On this list are 4 of the 5 countries that make up North Africa.
In this case, and in order, it is Morocco which has an adoption rate of 5.43%. The country is followed by Egypt, which has an interest in crypto, estimated at 2.74%. Next comes Algeria, whose appetite for crypto stands at a modest 0.82%. Tunisia closes this march with an even lower adoption rate of 0.60%. Overall, North Africa has an adoption rate of around 10.0% compared to the rest of the continent.
These data are somewhat corroborated by a report from Chainalysis, published during the month of October 2023. The study, which covers, in addition to North Africa, the Middle East, shows the weight of the Maghreb countries, Libya included, in the MENA region. The latter representing in terms of crypto value, 7.2%, compared to the rest of the world.
It is true that the adoption of cryptos in the Maghreb is typically low. Especially if we compare it to the 74.7% adoption rate which characterizes a region like West Africa. However, this result remains no less significant, especially for Morocco which displays the highest crypto penetration rate in the region. A focus on this country is useful to explain this dynamic.
Focus on crypto adoption in Morocco
If we are interested in Morocco, this is basically because of the crypto situation in the country. As a reminder, cryptos are prohibited in Morocco. However, the country remains in the Top 20 for global crypto adoption.
As the Chainalysis report, Morocco has only retained its place in this top 20 countries adopting cryptos the most. The kingdom, the blockchain analytics firm explains, has also emerged as a leading country for digital asset ownership in the region.
Although this represents a drop from its previous ranking (14th), it is still a commendable feat considering the difficult conditions of the Moroccan crypto market. This is all the more remarkable since Morocco is the second MENA country, after Turkey (12th) and ahead of Iran (28th), to appear among the top 30 in the ranking.
Furthermore, Morocco claims the highest crypto transaction value in the Maghreb region comprising Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia. This contrasts with the figures for Egypt which has disappeared from the Top 30.
In addition, the Moroccan crypto industry shows particular resilience. Indeed, Morocco is the 13the countries of the world by its use of the use of bitcoin. Surprisingly, around 4.9% of the Moroccan population owned some form of crypto in 2022, despite the ban on these assets in force since 2017. A situation that could be reversed according to Morocco’s central bank. The latter having also announced that efforts were being made to adopt regulations on cryptos which have not yet seen the light of day.
The situation in other Maghreb countries
It must be said that despite everything, the situation remains very positive in Morocco. According to observers, the country is moving towards crypto regulation. This asset class remains strictly prohibited in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt and Algeria. Worse, no regulations are planned in these countries immediately.
However, it remains to be seen whether the crypto-friendly regulatory environment in the UAE will influence the regulatory landscape of other African countries in the region. This cannot be ruled out given the similarity of laws and regulations in this geographical area.
In this region, it is mainly Saudi Arabia which is leading the debates. The country took the lead in crypto economies recording 12% year-over-year growth in crypto trading volume. Chainalysis attributed this growth to increasing interest among retail investors in diversifying their portfolios and investing in digital assets.
Ultimately, crypto adoption in the Maghreb shows notable progress, despite significant challenges. Among the countries in the region, Morocco stands out by displaying the highest adoption rate despite the ban on these digital assets. The Chainalysis report demonstrates the resilience of the Moroccan crypto industry, with the country now ranked among the top 30 most crypto-adopting countries globally. However, other Maghreb countries, such as Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, maintain a strict approach banning cryptos, with no immediate prospect of regulation. The contrasting situation between these countries highlights the variations in crypto adoption within the region. It should be noted that the Central Bank of Morocco is considering the adoption of regulations on cryptos, which could potentially influence other Maghreb countries to review their position. The influence of neighboring countries, such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, in the regional crypto ecosystem is also worth monitoring. Overall, current figures show that crypto adoption in the Maghreb is constantly evolving, paving the way for promising prospects, even if regulatory challenges remain.
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