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West Africa Reclaims Destiny by Abandoning CFA Franc

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A pivotal moment is unfolding in West Africa, as Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger stand ready to abandon the CFA franc, a relic of French colonialism. This long-overdue move signals a new era for the region, one where these nations can finally determine their own destiny after decades of paternalistic control by Paris.

For too long, the economies of these countries have been shackled to France through the CFA franc, their financial sovereignty sacrificed in the name of neocolonial policies. But the tide is turning, as a new generation of leaders rises up to demand true self-rule.

The days of Françafrique dominance are coming to a close. The time has arrived for Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger to take charge of their own futures, without interference from the former colonial power. Though the path forward may be rocky, their commitment to autonomy is unwavering.

Leaders across West Africa are speaking out to proclaim that the era of dictation from France must end. The calls for freedom from the CFA franc grow louder each day, signaling the death knell of financial domination. With strong resolve, these nations are affirming that their destiny will no longer be shaped by outsiders.

The message ringing out across the region is clear – the age of deference is over. A new chapter awaits, one written by and for the people of West Africa. It is time for true sovereignty to rise!

The recent talk of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger potentially ditching the West African CFA franc represents a pivotal moment in the history of these West African nations. The CFA franc is a colonial vestige, a currency created by France in 1945 for its African colonies.

After independence in the 1960s and 1970s, these countries continued using the CFA franc, allowing France to maintain significant economic and political influence.

But times are changing. The past few years have seen rising anti-French sentiment across Francophone Africa. The recent coups in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger were partly fueled by frustrations over the lack of progress in combating armed groups, despite years of French military presence. These nations have had enough of the paternalistic policies of the former colonial power.

The CFA franc epitomizes this post-colonial domination. France continues to hold sway over the currency’s convertibility and value by requiring that 50% of foreign reserves be kept in the French treasury.

Senegalese economist Ndongo Samba Sylla, head of research and policy for Africa at the International Development Economics Associates, argued that the CFA franc was created by France not to benefit African states, but rather to protect itself against the rise of the U.S. dollar.

Sylla explained that the oft-touted stability of the CFA is artificial, since the currency’s value is pegged to the euro. “From a purely practical economic standpoint, the CFA is not a beneficial currency or system for its user states,” he remarked.

To demonstrate this, Sylla pointed to the lackluster economic growth in CFA countries since independence: “Long-term analysis of per capita GDP, used to measure income growth per person, shows that nations using the CFA since independence have not seen the development they should have. For instance, Ivory Coast, the most significant CFA economy, reached its income per capita peak back in 1978. Similarly, Niger, which recently withdrew from ECOWAS after a 2023 coup, recorded its highest per capita income in 1965. The list goes on.”

This has engendered accusations that France is freeloading off its former colonies. Ditching the CFA would be the ultimate act of shaking off the last vestiges of French colonialism.

As Captain Ibrahim Traore, leader of Burkina Faso’s transitional government boldly challenged the west by saying, “Perhaps everything we’ve done has surprised you, hasn’t it?” “More changes might still surprise you. And it’s not just about currency. We will break all ties that keep us in slavery.” This powerful statement encapsulates the yearning for true sovereignty and self-determination that is motivating calls for dropping the CFA franc.

While some economists argue that the euro-peg provides useful protection against inflation, this ignores the CFA franc’s origins as a tool to serve French interests. The perceived benefits pale in comparison to the humiliation and indignity of maintaining a currency that was created to benefit the colonial master.

Furthermore, the CFA franc hinders trade by only being convertible within the Franc zone, limiting economic opportunities for its member states. oil-producing nations are hit especially hard, given that oil is priced in dollars, not euros.

The calls for dropping the CFA franc should also be seen in the broader context of the push for a single pan-African currency.

Africa loses around $30 billion annually due to the economic impacts of climate change, according to estimates.

Thabo Thamane, head of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions, warned that climate change-related losses on the continent could reach $30 billion per year by 2030, or 15% of Africa’s gross domestic product. He said Africa faces projected climate adaptation costs of $10-30 billion annually by 2030.

This massive economic burden from climate change demonstrates the need for a unified pan-African currency. A single continental currency would boost intra-regional trade and investment, strengthening Africa’s resilience against climate impacts.

It would also reduce remittance costs, enabling more support for communities vulnerable to climate disruptions. Tackling the shared challenge of global warming underscores the necessity of greater African economic integration.

Ditching the CFA franc would be one step on the path towards the long-held dream of a single African currency.

The purported risks of abandoning the CFA franc are exaggerated and misguided. Critics claim that without the euro peg, countries will experience runaway inflation. This erroneous thinking assumes African nations are incapable of prudent macroeconomic management. In reality, currency volatility stems from poor policymaking, not currency regimes themselves.

With responsible fiscal and monetary policies, floated national currencies can flourish in Africa. Ghana’s successful cedi demonstrates floating exchange rates need not cause instability. In fact, the discipline required to operate independent currencies will encourage African governments to pursue sounder policies.

Further, while the French Treasury provides a cushion against instability, such “stability” extracted at the cost of sovereignty is undesirable. As the Nigerien coup leader Abdourahmane Tchiani stated, “Currency is a sign of sovereignty. … The AES member states are engaged in the process of recovering their full sovereignty.” Any short-term turbulence will be worth it to assert true economic independence.

Already facing sanctions from ECOWAS after their coups, the transitional governments in these countries have little to lose economically from dropping the CFA franc. But they have much to gain politically in galvanizing domestic support and asserting their nationalist credentials. This is about more than just money; it’s about pride, dignity, and carving our own destiny.

As Tchiani powerfully said, “It is no longer acceptable for our states to be France’s cash cow. France has robbed us of more than 107 years. We must work together to find the mechanisms that allow us to strengthen exchanges within our alliance.” The fierce urgency of his words speaks to the deep yearning to finally break free from the chains of French neocolonialism. Casting aside the CFA franc would be the ultimate rebuke to France after “more than 107 years” of exploitative policies.

By resolutely moving forward with replacing the CFA franc, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger are seizing a historic opportunity to truly liberate themselves from the shackles of French colonialism. This courageous act can set a groundbreaking precedent for the rest of Africa that complete sovereignty is possible by casting off the last vestiges of foreign domination.

While detractors will cry that these nations are not ready and warn of grave uncertainties, their patronizing rhetoric fails to acknowledge Africa’s rightful autonomy. The potential fruits of self-ruled monetary policy categorically outweigh any short-term risks. Just as doubts about preparedness did not stop the liberation struggles of the 1950s and 60s, so too should these countries boldly forge their own path.

As the Zambian freedom fighter Kapwepwe Kanyanta audaciously declared, Africa may make mistakes, but they will be theirs.

The time has come for Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger to reclaim their financial destiny. By leaving behind the CFA franc, they can build prosperous futures governed entirely on their own terms, not those set by the former colonial master. Both the perils and promises ahead will be theirs to own.

This historic departure from the CFA franc is about more than money – it affirms the dignity and pride of Africans to freely determine their fate. These nations are proclaiming they will no longer let France dictate their policies. Rightful sovereignty has arrived, unburdened by colonial legacies. Africa’s future will be defined by self-mastery, not acquiescence to foreign powers.

As Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger courageously strike out on a new path by abandoning the CFA franc, their bold pursuit of financial sovereignty mirrors a broader movement across Africa towards self-determination.

Zambia’s recent debt restructuring agreement with China and India epitomizes this pan-African push for liberation from neocolonial control. While departing from the CFA franc frees West Africa from the last gasp of French imperialism, Zambia’s deal loosens the stranglehold of Western-dominated creditors like the IMF and World Bank.

The agreement between Zambia and major creditors China and India to restructure debt payments is a positive development for African sovereignty and self-determination. For too long, African nations have been shackled by odious debt obligations to Western powers and institutions like the IMF and World Bank. This deal represents a shift towards a more equitable global order, with the rising powers of the Global South serving as partners rather than overlords.

China and India’s willingness to negotiate debt relief facilitates Zambia’s economic recovery and growth on its own terms. In contrast to the draconian austerity programs mandated by Western creditors, China and India have taken a patient, long-term approach focused on African development. Their flexibility demonstrates a spirit of South-South cooperation that respects Zambian autonomy.

At the same time, Zambia has shown agency by managing its debt proactively. President Hichilema’s administration has astutely negotiated with diverse creditors to secure the best deal for Zambians. This highlights that African nations can successfully lead their own diplomacy rather than relying on Western “saviors.”

President Hichilema said, “We are getting there — working steadily, definitely, we are getting there,” showing the progress and overnight work that his government is doing to secure this powerful deal that will allow Zambia to overcome some of its debt and drought hardships.

Looking ahead, China and India’s expanding role in African economies can lessen dependence on the West and its neo colonial policies. With China investing heavily in Zambian copper mines, for instance, prospects for indigenous control of this vital resource are brighter. While not without flaws, China and India’s emphasis on mutual benefit over charity or coercion points towards more liberated African futures.

The China-India-Zambia deal, though technical in nature, thus represents a small but meaningful step toward dismantling unfair global hierarchies. It exemplifies the potential of South-South cooperation to provide alternatives to the inequitable patterns set by Western imperialism. As Zambia’s finance minister rightly said, this paves the way for other sovereign debt resolutions that affirm African self-rule.

The winds of change are sweeping across Africa, as a growing chorus of voices demands true liberation from the shackles of western imperialism. From Dakar to Dar es Salaam, the cries for self-determination and pan-African unity ring out. The time has come for Africa to assert its sovereignty, on its own terms, and shake off the last vestiges of foreign domination.

The historic actions of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger in ditching the CFA franc underscore that a new African dawn is emerging. Their courageous departure from this colonial relic catalyzes a groundswell across the continent to dismantle the financial and mental chains implanted by western powers. Likewise, Zambia’s monumental debt restructuring deal with China and India epitomizes Africa increasingly forging its destiny through south-south cooperation, not western paternalism.

These are but first steps in Africa’s unstoppable march towards liberation. When united in purpose and vision, Africa’s incredible potential and ingenuity cannot be denied. The giants of Nkrumah, Lumumba, Sankara, and Mandela proved that when Africans join hands and hearts, no force on earth can subjugate them.

This is Africa’s time. No external power, however mighty, will dictate her future again. The sun has set on the days of empire and exploitation. A new dawn of shared prosperity, dignity and pan-African strength has emerged, brightened by the glow of self-rule. With shoulders squared, heads lifted high and arms linked as one across its vast lands, Africa now boldly declares to the world – we shall be free!

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