Chaos Caused By The French Franc In French West And Central Africa

For over a decade now, in the French African territories known as the ‘Franc Zone,’ where the CFA franc is being used as a medium of exchange, there are persistent issues surrounding the abolishing and continual usage of the CFA franc that was brought to these countries by the French administration before and after independence. It is important to note that there are 15 African states using the French franc both in central African states and West African states, such as Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, IvoryCoastt, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo. However, the CFA franc is the sole property of France and African countries using it must deposit 50% of their foreign exchange reserves to the French Treasury, which is impoverishing these countries. To expand, as stressed by the Togolese economist Professor at Princeton and Oxford, Kako Nubukpo, exports are taxed and imports subsidized, with the exception of the Ivory Coast, which benefits from cocoa revenues, all West African countries trade balances are experiencing serious deficits.

Nevertheless, the majority of African leaders that tried to abolish this currency during their reign found death or imprisonment as their reward for being disobedient of neocolonialist France. For example, the list of African leaders that lost their lives while trying to kick out the CFA franc and clamour for a united African State to exist includes the following: Sylvanus Ephiphanio Olympio was a Togolese politician who served as Prime Minister and then as the President of Togo from 1958 until his assassination in 1963. History holds that he was killed because of his Pan-Africanist tendencies and his quest for a national currency. As well, there was Thomas Isidore Noel Sankara, was a Burkinabe military captain, Marxist revolutionary, Pan-Africanist and President of Burkina Faso from 1983 until his assassination in 1987. He was also killed due to his hatred for the French Franc and his vigour for financial autonomy. Ahmed Sekou Toure was the first elected President of Guinea and served as president from 1958 until his death in 1984 in Cleveland, Ohio. In addition, Modibo Keita was the first President of Mali and the Prime Minister of the Mali Federation. He espoused a form of African Socialism and was also one of the pioneers of the fight against financial bondage. Meanwhile, Muammar Mohammed Abu Minyar Gaddafi, commonly known as Colonel Gaddafi, was a Libyan revolutionary, politician, and political theorist that fought for the liberation of all African countries and reawakened the agitations around a ‘United States of Africa’. It also be noted that Gaddafi wanted African countries to control their economy through the establishment of a united African currency. Gaddafi was killed on the October 20th, 2011. Last, but not least, is the Former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo, who also fought for financial autonomy until his arrest in April 2011 and has been incarcerated ever since by the International Criminal Court of Justice.

As such, while many African leaders believed that financial autonomy was the only way out of economic enchainment, it should also be recalled that any French African state that has tried to stop the French’s financial supremacy always ended up in chaos or with complete political and economic instability.

Thus, the issues surrounding financial autonomy in French-speaking African countries is a reality that cannot be hidden from pan Africanist and revolutionaries. Notably, the situation has hampered and thwarted former French-African territories, politics, and economies, which resulted in war and long-lasting conflicts that slowed the process of development. Worse still, is the fact that this currency is only produced in France.

With that said, this situation is alarming as, in the process of fighting for financial autonomy, many lives are being lost. Therefore, the question of the decade is to know why there are so many problems surrounding financial autonomy in French-speaking African countries that have led to arrests, killings, and torture of fighters.

Adewale Daniel Omojowo
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