It appears the North African country of Tunisia which was the origin of the Arab Spring in 2010 hasn't learned any lessons. The revolution that spread to other Arab countries, is rooted in an absence of economic freedom. Paradoxically, the regime that came to power as a result of the revolution for freedom, now suppresses Bitcoin.
Tunisian Bitcoin entrepreneur and enthusiast, Mohamed Jaziri, shared his view on the situation with Cointelegraph:
"Tunisia is a country that applies capital controls. We have an inflationary currency that is constantly trending down.Tunisians have no right to possess any kind of foreign currency (no dollar no euro, no yen...). So Tunisians cannot go on Amazon or eBay and shop online. Bitcoin is a huge opportunity for Tunisians to get back their financial freedom and be able to protect themselves from inflation."
However, the Tunisian state continues to be a pain in the neck of Bitcoin users by maintaining a lackadaisical attitude.
In November 2015, the Bitcoin community in Tunisia had a conference with government officials to discuss Bitcoin.
According to Jaziri, the government sees it as a threat not as a technology, especially central bank officials who vehemently oppose it and still see it as an impediment.
"They are not going to issue a law to make it forbidden but they are not going to authorize any business to operate in this field either. I launched an exchange that was working very well but I had to close it down because of government pressure."
Irrespective of all these government subjugation and denial of Economic Freedom, Tunisians sees Bitcoin as a timely solution to their Financial exclusion. Many Tunisian users rely on it as a store of value, for remittances and gambling online.
From all indications, the Tunisians did not see any reforms after the Arab Spring and the subsequent change of regime. The country has 50 percent of its economy in the informal sector. It is still less that in most African economies that have 80 to 90 percent of trade performed in the Black Market.
Bitcoin price here is around 20 to 30 percent more than in other countries because of the local currency, the Dinar, is not a free currency, therefore Bitcoin dealers charge 20 to 30 percent premium to offset this non-convertibility risk of the Dinar.
"In any country that applies capital controls the demand for Bitcoin is high and is going to increase as time goes on," Jaziri explains.
Looking for opportunities
The situation seems inimical, but the Satoshi lover believes the indomitable spirit of the Tunisian people cannot be suppressed and Bitcoin will continue to bloom in the Arab League nation:
"Bitcoin will grow because it is useful for Tunisians looking for financial freedom. It is a must in Tunisia, we do not have any other way to transfer money freely or engage in cross-border transactions. Tunisians don't have access to PayPal and Credit cards. Neteller used to be available but not anymore. The only alternative for us is Bitcoin."
Jaziri is also certain his country can be at the forefront of Bitcoin penetration in the continent that is saddled with so many economic, political and social quandaries. Currently, the youths who are endowed with skills and ideas are unable to release all their capabilities and launch projects and ventures.
"I think it is possible, we have great potential within the youth. They know a lot about Bitcoin and all emerging technologies. Unfortunately, they are scared of their government, Bitcoin is still gray and government officials like it to be that way," he inferred.