Why France still controls ex-African colonies' currency


France's African colonies were finally given independence around 70 years ago but one throwback to that era still remains – control by Paris of its former colonies' currency. The 'CFA franc', guaranteed by the French Treasury, is the legal tender in 14 west and central African nations. As Fanny Pigeaud reports in the first of two articles, many African economists are critical of the 'Franc Zone', which many feel holds back economic development.

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It is a situation that has existed for decades but one which has been largely ignored, even hidden: France is the only country in the world which still manages the currencies of its former colonies. More than 70 years after 14 African countries achieved their “independence” from France, they are still using the 'CFA franc' currency which remains under the effective control of the Ministry of Finance in Paris. More and more people in Africa are beginning to criticise a situation which is seen as perpetuating French domination over those countries. In addition many economists warn that the FCFA, as it is known in French, is holding back economic development in the countries that use it.