You are invited to the 10th episode of INTER VIEWS entitled CFA, ECO: The Challenges and Prospects of Political, Economic, and Monetary Sovereignty of West Africa on August 20, Thursday at 10:00 AM Dakar time via Zoom and Facebook Live.
The CFA franc was born in 1945 and, at the time, stood for “Colonies Francaises d’Afrique” (French Colonies in Africa). Later on, France change the meaning of CFA to “Communaute Financiere Africaine” (African Financial Community) in West Africa and in Central Africa it means “Cooperation Financiere en Afrique Centrale” (Financial Cooperation in Central Africa).
Last December 2019, however, the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) agreed with France to rename the CFA franc currency the eco and reduce its ties to France. The eco will remain pegged to the euro, but the Central Bank of West African States will no longer be required to keep 50 percent of its foreign reserves in the French Treasury. There will also no longer be a French representative on the West African central bank’s board. The agreement will affect WAEMU members Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo, all of which, except Guinea Bissau, are former French colonies.
Such development is being presented as a decision by the francophone countries to break with their colonial past. On the other hand, others are also saying that the agreement will only institutionalize further the neocolonial character of West African Countries and that key provisions in the agreement have made sure that French economic interest in the sub-region is well in place.
Concerning the claim that the agreement is towards breaking dependency, there is widespread skepticism if the Central Bank of West African States can maintain a stable currency and low inflation without France? West African states have been unable to achieve a stable currency and low inflation rates largely due to lack of independence of their central banks. Independence, in this instance, refers to the freedom with which central banks control the cost, supply, and availability of money without political interference.
Given this historical development, however, very few West Africans are even aware of the implication of such an agreement to their daily lives. One cannot help but ask: what is the real reason behind this agreement, and why is France conspicuously agreeing that former colonies are now asserting sovereignty against its control on the sub-region?
In this regard, IBON International – Africa and the International League of Peoples’ Struggles – Africa are organizing a webinar that aims to provide an overview of the agreement and initial insights on the implications of the monetary agreement on the struggle of West African people for its full sovereignty. The discussion also hopes to present possible scenarios on the implementation of the monetary union in the sub-region, given the pandemic’s impact on West African countries’ economies.
The webinar is going to be in French but simultaneous translation to English is available to registered participants in Zoom.
Register here for the webinar on August 20th at 10:00 am, Dakar time (GMT) UTC +0.