The Kingdom of Morocco is the leader for Bitcoin trading across North Africa in 2021— despite its illegal status.
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Estimates from Triple A, a Singaporean cryptocurrency provider and aggregator, state that 0.9 million people, or roughly 2.4% of Morocco’s total population, currently own cryptocurrency.
That puts the kingdom as the top country in North Africa and in the top 50 holders of cryptocurrency population percentage, just ahead of Portugal.
Data from Useful Tulips — a platform that tracks peer-to-peer BTC trading across the globe — confirms the trend. The Kingdom of the West, as it’s known locally, has been the runaway North African leader for BTC trades in the past year, pipped by only Saudi Arabia when weighing up the entire Middle East and North Africa region.
Unfortunately for crypto enthusiasts, there has been no change in crypto laws in recent years. According to Morocco’s Foreign Exchange Office, it will not support a “hidden payment system that is not backed by any financial institution.” While the law came into being in 2017, the ban has not stymied adoption and as the data shows, Moroccan crypto enthusiasts continue to circumvent the ruling.
Nearby, the Egyptian pound is gaining on the Moroccan Dirham for BTC trades. On the 30 day period, UsefulTulips shows that Egypt is $20,000 short of catching Morocco. It remains illegal to trade BTC and crypto in Egypt, but even if a tiny percentage of its 102 million population and $360 billion GDP engage in the “illicit” activity, it will move the needle.
To bolster Morocco’s orange-tinted future, Harmattan Energy is set to build one of Africa’s largest wind farms. The purpose of the 900MW behemoth wind site set in Dakhla, the Sahara region, is to “power blockchain computing.” As Bitcoin mining and trading is currently outlawed the group cannot openly purport Bitcoin mining.
Nonetheless, as Cointelegraph reported on the project’s call to tender in 2018, selling at least 20% of its electricity output back to the Moroccan government could be a workable solution. First results are expected from Harmattan at the end of quarter one this year.
Elsewhere, in April 2020, Binance added support for crypto purchases using the Moroccan dirham via a third-party platform, Simplex. It works the same way that Naira purchases for BTC work in Nigeria. It’s not quite as easy to buy BTC on Binance as it is in the nearby UAE, which has a direct fiat on-ramp, but it’s a promising start.
Time will tell whether Moroccan lawmakers backtrack on banning Bitcoin. As it stands, Morocco will continue to lead the charge in North Africa even though it remains an underground activity.