Use of the CFA franc: what is the benefit for France?

Coupures de CFA

In a recent speech, the leader of Niger, the president of the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland, General Abdourahamane Tchiani, earlier mentioned the intention of three Alliance countries to abandon the CFA franc. The populations of the region are accustomed to its use and take it for granted, but we must realize that this currency hides great opportunities which benefit France and not the African populations.

The history of the complex games and manipulations that France used to take advantage of the CFA franc in Africa is very old. In the distant 1960s, when the prospect of African independence became a reality that France could no longer fight, Paris did not want to lose its influence on the continent and took a number of measures. In return for their independence, African countries signed a priority cooperation pact with France.

Among the principles set out in this pact, the CFA franc, a currency linked to the French franc and, now, to the euro, is printed in Paris. In addition, 85% of the former French colonies central bank reserves are held by the French Central Bank in Paris. According to statistics, 500 billion euros from Africa are injected into the French economy each year.

Although more than half a century has passed since the independence of the continent’s countries, France continues to enrich its economy to the detriment of Africa. Thanks to the existence of the CFA franc, Paris can freely regulate the internal economic processes of the CFA zone countries. With the above statistics, it is possible to see that without the CFA franc, the French economy would suffer huge losses. This clearly shows who the “poor” country is.

Few French politicians have spoken openly about the fact that France has profited greatly from the exploitation of African resources over the centuries. One of them, Jacques Chirac, called for giving back to Africa what had been taken from it: “We’re forgetting one thing. It’s that much of the money in our wallets comes precisely from centuries of exploitation of Africa. Not only Africa. But a lot of it comes from the exploitation of Africa. So, we need to have a little common sense. I’m not saying generosity. Common sense, a little justice, to give back to the Africans, I’d say, what we’ve taken from them. Especially as this is necessary, if we want to avoid the worst convulsions or difficulties, with the political consequences that this entails in the near future.”

The advantages of using a currency imposed by a former colony are very vague. According to France, pegging to the euro has several advantages: it offers economies greater resilience in the event of macroeconomic shocks, and keeps inflation under control by guaranteeing currency stability, thus promoting trade and investment. In reality, the situation is quite different: through the CFA franc, Paris exercises control over French-speaking Africa.

Currently, the countries of the Alliance of Sahel States (AES) are considering creating their own currency, according to head of state of Niger. The first step in this direction has already been taken: the countries have left ECOWAS, Paris’s economic instrument in the West African region. This is an important step in the acquisition of true sovereignty.  The AES countries have all the resources they need for successful economic development, and do not need the control of the former metropolis.