Namibia, a country that once banned cryptocurrency exchanges in 2017, has just signed the Namibia Virtual Assets Act 2023 into law. Last week, the Namibian Government officially signed this bill into law. This groundbreaking legislation is a significant step towards embracing virtual assets.

A Reversal of Ban and Features

In a significant legal U-turn, the law was approved by Namibia’s National Assembly on July 6 and subsequently signed by President Hage Geingob on July 14. The VASP-regulating law was then inserted into the Gazette of the Republic of Namibia on July 21.

The primary objective is to assign a regulatory authority responsible for overseeing all cryptocurrency exchanges operating in the country. This marks the first time the country has established a comprehensive framework to govern cryptocurrency-related activities.

One of the law’s main goals is to protect consumers engaged in virtual asset transactions. By implementing this regulatory measure, Namibia aims to safeguard its citizens from potential risks and abuses in the crypto market.

A screenshot of the Namibia Virtual Assets Act 2023 from the official Gazette

The new law also addresses concerns related to money laundering and the financing of terrorism. By closely regulating VASPs, Namibia intends to mitigate the potential misuse of cryptocurrencies for illegal activities.

Strict Penalties for Non-compliance

The Namibia Virtual Assets Act 2023 comes with significant consequences for non-compliant providers. Penalties for violating the regulations could reach up to $671,000 (10 million Namibian dollars) and a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.

However, the Bank of Namibia, maintains that cryptocurrencies will not be considered legal tender within the country. This is irrespective of the progressive move towards crypto regulation by Namibia’s central bank.

African Crypto Landscape

Namibia’s shift towards crypto regulation aligns with the emerging trend in other African nations. South Africa’s financial regulator recently announced that all cryptocurrency exchanges within its borders will need to obtain licenses by the end of 2023 to continue their operations.

Several other African countries have also introduced cryptocurrency laws. Countries like Botswana, Kenya, Mauritius, and Seychelles have joined the movement. However, not all African nations share this sentiment.

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