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West African Countries to Stop Using Colonial-Era Currency ‘CFA franc’, Sever its Links to France

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Eight West African countries Saturday agreed to change the name of their common currency to Eco and severed the French-backed CFA franc’s regional currency that dates back to the colonial era.

West African Countries to stop Using Colonial-Era Currency 'CFA franc', Sever its Links to France

These countries are Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo. All are former French colonies with the exception of Guinea-Bissau.

The president of Ivory Coast, Alassane Ouattara, speaking at a joint news conference with the visiting president of France, Emmanuel Macron, said on Saturday that the bloc was changing the name of the C.F.A. franc, used in eight West African countries, and renaming it the Eco.

Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara, speaking at a joint news conference with the visiting president of France, Emmanuel Macron, announced the reform of the long-disputed CFA franc on Saturday, a currency that is used in eight nations in West Africa.

The new Currency ‘eco’ Will be pegged to euro but requirement for member states to keep 50% of reserves with French treasury will be scrapped, french representative on board of regional central bank will also be scrapped

C.F.A. stood for the French Colonies of Africa when the then-colonial power introduced the currency in 1945, though it was changed after independence to the Financial Community of Africa. It is seen by many as a relic of “Françafrique,” the unofficial system under which France exerted influence over its former colonies in sub-Saharan Africa long after independence.

West African Countries to stop Using Colonial-Era Currency 'CFA franc''
franc CFA banknotes

Most of the criticism of the C.F.A. has centered around the requirement that the countries that use it are required to keep 50 percent of their foreign currency reserves in the French treasury. Under the agreement between France and the eight countries, this requirement will be scrapped when it becomes the Eco, as will the stipulation that a French representative sit on the currency union’s board.

The agreement with France and the Monetary Union of West Africa (UEMOA), which is currently led by Ouattara, will advance the “eco.” The new currency replaces the CFA and broadens the possibility for the 15 members of ECOWAS – with some UEMOA nations overlapping – to adopt the currency as well.

“This is a historic day for West Africa,” Mr. Ouattara said in the Ivorian capital, Abidjan.

Macron hailed it as a “historic reform”, adding: “The Eco will see the light of day in 2020.”zee


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