Building on the last post about la Françafrique, another element of France’s neo-colonial influence on Africa remains the CFA franc. The franc is actually two interchangeable currencies, one for West Africa (XOF) and one for Central Africa (XAF).
While a single currency does help trade between the 14 countries using it, and it is pegged to the Euro for stability, it is a deeply unfair deal. Each country must put 50-70% of their foreign currency reserves into France’s treasury, and to use their own money, France will loan it back to them at fixed commercial rates. I’d suggest the below video for an excellent look at the CFA franc and how it continues to disadvantage these countries:
There has been movement from West African countries to ditch their side of the CFA franc and start their own monetary union with a currency called the Eco, but the countries of the Central African half of the CFA, including Gabon, have not signed on. An African monetary union is definitely a point of discussion, and definitely seems like the CFA franc it can’t continue on in its current form. There’s differing viewpoints – I read an article by Gabonese economist Mays Mouissi calling to keep the franc, but reform it so France is not controlling access to funds and to un-peg it from the Euro: “Gabon: monnaie unique, non, évolution du CFA, oui“. I’d also suggest the interview with Togolese activist Farida Nabourema about France’s influence and the CFA franc.