AFRICANGLOBE – The West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) is an organization of eight West African states. It was established to promote economic integration among countries that share the Communauté Financière d’Afrique (CFA) franc as a common currency. The currency is issued by the Banque Centrale des États de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (BCEAO), located in Dakar, Senegal, for the members of the UEMOA. The union administers the West African CFA franc, now a Euro-pegged currency that is used in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo.
UEMOA was created by a Treaty signed in Dakar on 10 January 1994, by the heads of state and governments of Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo. On 2 May 1997, Guinea-Bissau became the organisation’s eighth (and only non-Francophone) member state.
On 20 January 2011, the UEMOA announced that it was drafting a code that will state how member states can negotiate investments with China, as reported by the Dakar-based newspaper Sud Quotidien, citing the union’s commissioner, Joseph Marie Dabré. The report said that the code would require Chinese state companies to receive approval from the Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso-based union before investing in any of the zone’s eight individual states. Mining agreements between China and countries in the union would fall under the terms of the code, according to Sud Quotidien.
However, you do not have to look too far to notice that the UEMOA countries’ French-controlled CFA franc is just slavery and colonialism by another name. It therefore beggars belief that the UEMOA should draft a new trade code for Chinese investments and not for the French ones in the first place!
The former president of the Ivorian National Assembly, former Finance Minister and economist, Professor Mamadou Koulibaly, labeled the French-led CFA franc arrangement as ‘financially repressive, unfair and morally indefensible’, in an interview with the London-based New African Magazine last year.
It has become vital today for the CFA franc to acquire its own existence, free of colonial stranglehold…After the break; the ex-CFA zone must construct its own system based on simple principles. These include: establishing direct access to international markets without having to pass through a tutor [read France]; and without a monetary guide [read France]; establish a simple fiscal system and not complicated tax codes that are incomprehensible; have flexible exchange rates vis-à-vis major currencies.
Professor Koulibaly believes that done within a democratic dispensation, free trade will do the rest for the benefit of Africa.
As it unbelievably exists today, Professor Koulibaly explained that, ‘the foreign reserves of the CFA African states are deposited in the French Treasury, but no African country is capable of telling you exactly how much of this hard-earned foreign reserves belong to them. Only France has the privilege to that information’.
As Professor Koulibaly lamented, francophone Africans have been reduced to ‘taxpayers for France [remember the 65% of hard currencies that the 14 CFA zone states are obliged to deposit yearly in the French Treasury]…Yet our people neither have French nationality nor access to the public goods and services made available to other French taxpayers’.
In the same New African report, Senegalese President Wade was clear and direct: ‘Central bank reserves of member states must be returned to member states in one way or another. I insist on this, and particularly because we have been raising this issue for a long time’. President Wade ‘deplored the fact that close to 1,500 billion CFA francs generated from the surplus of West African states’ foreign reserves are placed on the foreign stock markets and out of the reach of the Africans who own the money.’
The CFA franc and its archaic arrangement with the French Treasury in Paris is indeed a slave deal. And this is how the slave deal works as elaborated by the London-based Professor Dr Gary Busch:
The French Treasury is holding billions of dollars owned by the African states of the francophone nations of West and Central Africa in its own accounts and invested in the French Bourse or Stock Exchange. The Africans deposit the equivalent of 85% of their annual reserves in these accounts as a matter of post-colonial agreements and have never been given an accounting for how much the French are holding on their behalf, in what have these funds been invested, and what profit or loss there have been.
The French have been acquiring and holding the national reserves of 14 countries since 1961. Even allowing for losses and expenditures in keeping the CFA franc viable, the French are holding about at least 400 billion dollars of African money, wholly unaccountably to the money’s putative owners, the African states. Even Bernie Madoff couldn’t have constructed a Ponzi scheme that large without being exposed.
This ‘bargain’ was made between the African former colonies and the French as part of the Pacte Coloniale which accompanied their independence and controlled through a single currency, the CFA franc. This was largely the work Jacques Foccart, the chief adviser for the government of France on African policy as well as the co-founder of the Gaullist Service d’Action Civique (SAC) in 1959 with Charles Pasqua, which specialised in covert operations in Africa.
It was Foccart ‘the eminence grise’ who negotiated the Pacte Coloniale with the evolving French West African states who achieved their ‘flag independence’ in 1960. Not really having planned for it, de Gaulle had to improvise structures for a collection of small newly independent states, each with a flag, an anthem, and a seat at the UN, but often with precious little else. It was here that Foccart came to play an essential role, that of architect of the series of Cooperation accords with each new state in the sectors of finance and economy, culture, education, and the military.
There were initially 11 countries involved: Mauritania, Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, Dahomey (now Benin), Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso), Niger, Chad, Gabon, Central African Republic, Congo-Brazzaville, and Madagascar. Togo and Cameroon, former UN Trust Territories, were also co-opted into the club. So, too, later on, were Mali and the former Belgian territories (Ruanda-Urundi, now Rwanda and Burundi, and Congo-Kinshasa), some of the ex-Portuguese territories, and Comoros and Djibouti, which had also been under French rule for many years but became independent in the 1970s. The whole ensemble was put under a new Ministry of Cooperation, created in 1961, separate from the Ministry of Overseas Departments and Territories (known as the DOM-TOM) that had previously run them all.
The key to all this was the agreement signed between France and its newly-liberated African colonies which locked these colonies into the economic and military embrace of France. This Colonial Pact not only created the institution of the CFA franc, it created a legal mechanism under which France obtained a special place in the political and economic life of its colonies.