Rwanda CBDC Tracker

CBDC Information

Economic Information

GDP

$13,312,796,765

Country Information

Freedom Rankings

Cato and Fraser Human Freedom Index:

5.89/10

Freedom House Index:

2.3/10

Reporters Without Borders Freedom Index:

4.65/10

Rwanda is currently in the research phase.

CBDC History and Development

In 2022, National Bank of Rwanda deputy governor Soraya Hakuziyaremye said, “We are now at an investigation phase. We are analysing what could be the benefits to Rwandans to have CBDC but also the risk not only to our economy but the sector depending on the form of digital currency we would issue.” It was later reported that National Bank of Rwanda governor John Rwangombwa said, “On CBDC, we completed the first study to see whether it is necessary to set up the digital currency. The study indicated that it is relevant, it can be done, and it is necessary.” Rwangombwa added that a CBDC would take around two years to build.

The National Bank of Rwanda published a report in 2024 that outlined its findings since September 2022. Namely, the report found that of 15 potential opportunities identified for a CBDC, only four were “identified as feasible, suitable, and better positioned than alternative solutions.” Specifically, those opportunities were described as a CBDC being able to (1) increase resilience against possible network outages; (2) improve innovation and competition; (3) contribute to achieving a cashless economy; and (4) develop faster, cheaper, more transparent, and more inclusive cross-border remittances. However, the report notes that concerns regarding public adoption “prevent the study [from concluding] with a high level of confidence that Rwanda needs to introduce a CBDC in the immediate or short term.” The report therefore recommends that the central bank “proceed iteratively and cautiously with multiple time-lined verification stages in terms of CBDC Proof of Concepts (PoC) and piloting.”

Human Rights and Civil Liberties Concerns

Rwanda earned a 23 out of 100 in Freedom House’s 2023 Freedom in the World report. As Freedom House noted in the report, oppression, intimidation, and surveillance are problems for Rwanda. The issuance or adoption of a CBDC in Rwanda could worsen these issues.

For Rwandans, digital attacks from the government are already a real threat. According to the U.S. State Department, “Advocates reported that [individuals who threatened government interests and] citizens living overseas experienced digital threats, spyware attacks, … intimidation and harassment.” Furthermore, according to Freedom House, the “government has a long history of repressing its political opponents, and members of opposition parties face the threat of disappearance, arbitrary arrest and detention, and assassination.” Unfortunately, a CBDC could be used as another tool in this effort. Across the world, governments have often turned to freezing and seizing the money of activists, political rivals, and protestors to undermine the opposition. A CBDC would make such initiatives easier by allowing governments to take direct control of each citizen’s finances.

“The government continued to monitor homes, movements, telephone calls, email, internet chat rooms, as well as personal and institutional communications arbitrarily, unlawfully, or without appropriate legal authority,” according to the U.S. State Department. Unfortunately, a CBDC could be used to greatly expand surveillance by putting financial records on government databases by default.

For additional information on concerns regarding violations of human rights and civil liberties, see the following reports by Amnesty International, Financial Tyranny Index, Freedom House, Human Rights Watch, Privacy International, and the U.S. Department of State. For additional information on concerns regarding the risks of CBDCs, see the following webpage and report by the Cato Institute: The Risks of CBDCs and Central Bank Digital Currency: Assessing the Risks and Dispelling the Myths.

For additional information regarding metrics, the methodology page explains each of the data points and provides their respective sources.