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CFA, the devil is in the details: the Ivorian economist and author of Le Franc CFA et l'Euro Contre l'Afrique, Prof Nicholas Agbohou, bares it all in this interview with Ruth Nabakwe. (Insight).

NA: You have said in your book and lectures that the CFA zone countries finance the French economy. How do these poor countries do it?

Agbohou: In order to understand how the CFA zone economies help to finance the French economy, it is first necessary to comprehend how the CFA, the French Franc and now the Euro-CFA link function. The mechanisms that guide the CFA-Euro operations in effect structurally and negatively block the economic rake-off of the 15 CFA zone countries.

For a start, we must examine the fixed parity of the CPA to the French Franc which has now been replaced by the Euro. The Euro will amplify the negative effects of domination made possible by the existing monetary ties with the CFA zone.

What is essential to note is that on the one hand there are the institutions that guide the operations of these monetary ties as well as the principles of the CFA zone. I will demonstrate how both these institutions and principles work against Africa's economic interests.

As regards the institutions, they include all the three "African" central banks of the CPA zone -- namely the BCEAO, BEAC and BCC as well as the National Credit Committees (NCC).

NA: You mean these banks work against the CPA zone economies?

Agbohou: The economy of any given country is managed by its central bank or in the case of a regional community such as the Economic and Monetary Union of West African Stares (UEMOA), their central hank, the BCEAO, manages the economies of the member stares.

A central bank, in turn, is managed by an administrative council that determines the running of the bank. A central bank is therefore an important component of a country's economy as it is the principal bank of any country. Commercial banks give credit to individuals or institutions. The interest rate on credit is increased or lowered in conformity with the socio-economic development objectives of the country. For instance, if the central bank wishes to inject credit into the economy to favour the growth of entrepreneurship, the interest rate is lowered.

The CFA zone central banks' administrative councils are composed of: 16 administrators, 2 of them French in the BCEAO; 13 administrators, 3 of them French in the BEAC; and 8 administrators, 4 of them French in the BCC.

NA: But the French are in a minority here?

Agbohou: Yes, but in reality the paradox is that it is their reduced number that poses problems in as far as the less visible the French in these administrative councils, the more they are able to give the naive Africans the illusion that they (the Africans) are the masters in control due to their numerical strength.

The sad truth is that this French minority has "blocking powers", in other words the French enjoy veto powers on any major decisions taken by the banks' administrative councils.

For a decision to be valid at the BEAC, it must be unanimously approved by all the members of the administrative council. At the Comoros Central Bank or BCC, at least five of the eight administrators must approve a decision.

At all times, no decision can be approved without the French. France is, therefore, in a position to block any major decisions taken by these banks. So if a decision favoured by the Comorian representatives at the BCC does not tally with French interests, the French administrators have the power to block it.

The way these central banks function, therefore, legalise and perpetuate the direct intervention of France in the vertebral column of the CFA zone economies. Even to appoint the governor of the BEAC for instance, the candidacy is proposed by Gabon, but it must be approved by Paris which seeks to ensure that the governor is malleable and ready to dance to French tunes to the detriment of African economic interests.

The control of these economies by their former colonial master is also made possible through the so-called National Credit Committees (NCC) within the central bank structures.

NA: What role does the NCC play?

Agbohou: In any economy, it is the central bank that defines the credit policy as well as the national economic policy. Regarding the three African CFA zone central banks, they are merely African in name only as real power is in the hands of France.

Through the so-called French "censors" within the NCC, the amount of credit that should trickle down into the CFA economies as decided by the administrative councils is monitored by these hawk-eyed censors.

If the administrative councils decide to inject, say, CFA2 billion into their economies, the censors role is to ensure that the money is released in just those amounts, no more no less. France, therefore, has the power to determine the pace of economic development of these economies through the level of credit injected into the economies at any given time.

This clearly shows that France is the real owner and manager of the CFA currency, which in fact was created by Paris with the sole objective of perpetuating the pauperisation of the CFA countries.

That it was Paris which in 1994 unilaterally decided on the devaluation of the CFA, thus generating severe economic hardships for the CFA countries just goes to demonstrate the extent of the power of France over these countries.

Today, with the pegging of the CFA to the Euro which belongs to all the EU countries, it means, in effect, that all the EU member states now control the CFA as well as the economies of the CFA zone countries.

The total re-colonisation of Africa by the same Europe that enslaved the continent is therefore well programmed, but this time through the monetary chains of bondage. Africans must wake up before it is too late.

NA: Are you saying the CFA does not belong to the Africans?

Agbohou: Since the CFA is in effect a colonial creature, its objective has remained unchanged, that is, to continually serve the economic and political interests of Metropolitan France. Since the African countries have no effective control over the currency, the CFA monetary policies will forever be detrimental to African interests. As a result, the Africans have often faced difficulties accessing credit to develop their ideas into viable business enterprises.

Hence it is often difficult to hear about black African inventions despite the existence of black inventors. For lack of capital to finance their innovations, most black inventors either die with their ideas or end up being obliged to cede their patents to whites who have considerable access to bank credit.

One such black inventor, the Senegalese economic engineer Atta Diouf, is the only one on the international patent list of inventors who holds a patent on the solar-driven train, boats and plane technology.

Thanks to Diouf's genius, his invention programmed to use solar energy, all villages in Africa could access electric solar-driven energy at cheaper costs for modem appliances such as computers, television sets, refrigerators, cookers, etc. But due to the monetary dependence on the West that African countries have allowed themselves to wallow in, the inventions by the likes of Atta Diouf can never see the light of day.

The developed countries talk of wanting to alleviate poverty in the South, but in effect they shun the ways in which they could easily help to do that. After all, they would not be too keen to finance durable development projects that could put Africa in an autonomous position of equality with the rest of the world. They rather prefer piecemeal solutions that help perpetuate Africa's dependence and poverty.

With the situation that Africa finds itself in today for want of credit for its development goals, it is clear that monetary independence is the road towards self-reliance. With effective financial control in African hands, African countries can buy and invest in whatever projects they want without having to seek approval from the North.

In short, if Africans sincerely want to get out of the current state of under-development and guarantee the quality of life of their people, they don't need speeches but must as a matter of priority create their own common currency which they will collectively manage and control without the presence of foreign tutors.

The creation of such a currency would be the best means to liquidate the colonial CFA that has been principally programmed to block the economic rake-off of the region.
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Title Annotation:communuate financiere africaine franc
Author:Nabakwe, Ruth
Publication:New African
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:60AFR
Date:Jul 1, 2002
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