France colonised a great part of Africa prior to independence in the 1960s. Former colonies of France include the North African states of Morocco, Algeria, Egypt and Tunisia. In West Africa, former French colonies include Ivory Coast, Benin, Mali, Niger, Guinea, Mauritania, Senegal and Burkina Faso. In the Central African region and French Equatorial Africa, former French colonies comprise of Chad, French Cameroon, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Gabon, Congo Brazzaville and São Tomé and Príncipe. In French Africa, former French colonies include Madagascar, Mauritius Seychelles, Comoros and Réunion. Some analysts, like Placide Moussounda of Nouvelle Afrique, argue that Francophone Africa has benefitted very little from France since independence.
I am one who has always viewed the on-going relationship between France and Africa as suspicious and detrimental to the continent’s growth and development. My position is fortified by a statement made in 2006 by former President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy during his presidential campaign, where he said “France does not need Africa”. During President Sarkozy’s term of office, Francophone Africans were repatriated in their numbers from France. Despite such humiliation and expulsion of Francophone Africans from France, French presence in Africa remains firm.
Another area where Francophone Africa continues to suffer from the marriage with France is the imposition of the franc CFA, a currency utilised by former French colonies in the Central African region. CFA stands for Financial Cooperation in Central Africa (Coopération financière en Afrique centrale). The CFA franc represents two currencies utilised in Africa which are guaranteed by the French treasury. The two CFA franc currencies are the Central African CFA franc and the West African CFA franc. Although theoretically separate, the two CFA franc currencies are effectively interchangeable.
According to former French minister of finance, René Pleven, the CFA franc was created on 26 December 1945, in French colonies to spare them the strong devaluation, thereby facilitating exports to France. Today the creation of the CFA has grossly impoverished Francophone Africa. This currency is regulated by three central banks in Francophone Africa, Banque des États de l’Afrique Centrale, or the Bank of the Central African States (BEAC) located in Yaoundé, Cameroon, the Banque Centrale des États de l’Afrique de l’Ouest, or the Central Bank of the West African States (BCEAO ) located in Dakar, Senegal and the Comoros Bank in Comoros. French citizens who constitute part of the board of directors of the above mentioned banks have veto rights on decisions of these banks, which means decisions concerning the CFA are influenced enormously by the French. The structuring and composition of the central banks makes it possible for a colossal flow of finances from Africa to the French public treasury. This means that very poor countries in Africa finance France. There happens to be over 8 000 billion of CFA from Africa stocked in France. This means over 40 million Africans are deprived of their revenue. This can be connoted as monetary slavery which is the outcome of the marriage of inconvenience between France and Francophone Africa.
Time for a new Africa has come. This new Africa needs to get rid of the shackles of colonialism which continue to plunge the continent down the drains of poverty. Africans need to nurture the spirit of free markets and stop relying on aid especially from France. Maybe it is time for Francophone Africa, to have its own currency as other currencies like the South African rand. Allowing impoverished African states to continuously finance the French treasury is not the way to go.
Additionally, Francophone Africa can curb the numerous trade barriers inhibiting commerce amongst them. Francophone Africa can ease trade with Anglophone Africa and benefit from a fruitful relationship which would benefit the continent as a whole, rather than relying on a marriage of inconvenience which has done nothing but plunge Francophone Africa and the entire continent into poverty.