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Five years on, CFA Franc reform stalls: France insists it has met its commitments

Thursday, 11 April 2024 14:38
Five years on, CFA Franc reform stalls: France insists it has met its commitments

(Ecofin Agency) - Five years after the announcement by Alassane Ouattara and Emmanuel Macron of the end of the CFA franc and its planned replacement with the Eco, progress on these reforms has stalled. While some activists accuse France of undermining African governments' efforts, the French government insists it has done its part in the transition.

In an interview with French media outlets RFI and France 24, France's Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Stéphane Séjourné, emphasized that the continuation of reforms related to the CFA franc solely depends on the sovereignty of the states using it. "We are no longer involved in governance, nor do we hold reserves in France to guarantee the currency's convertibility," Séjourné said. "If African countries choose to rename and reshape their currency system, it's totally up to them, and we're here to back up that choice."

This statement comes amid renewed discussions in West Africa about the CFA franc, which many in the region view as a colonial currency and a tool of French domination. Recent months have seen this narrative embraced by the military governments in Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso, all of which have announced their departure from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and indicated that leaving the CFA franc system could be their next step. Moreover, the election of Senegalese President Bassirou Diomaye Faye, who has called for a reform of the currency, suggests the issue may once again spark intense debates among the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) countries.

In 2019, Ivoirian President Alassane Ouattara announced the end of the CFA franc and the centralization of reserves at the French Treasury, alongside the forthcoming introduction of the Eco, the ECOWAS single currency. However, five years after this announcement, discussions have made little progress. While experts point to difficulties meeting convergence criteria, some activists claim Paris is reluctant to let its former colonies escape its influence.

Séjourné stated that France no longer has a say in any forthcoming reforms concerning the currency. "It's not for France to have an opinion on this. We have done our part by withdrawing from the governance of the CFA franc; it is now up to the African states to decide," he explained.

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ECOFIN AGENCY offers a selection of articles translated from AGENCE ECOFIN. Founded in 2011, Agence Ecofin is a leader in Francophone Pan-African economic news, particularly in West and Central Africa. The agency publishes daily news on nine African economic sectors: Public Management, Finance, ICT, Agribusiness, Energy, Mining, Transport & Logistics, Communication, and Training.

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