- Title: West Africa renames CFA franc but keeps it pegged to euro
- Date: 21st December 2019
- Summary: ABIDJAN, IVORY COAST (DECEMBER 21, 2019) (REUTERS) ***WARNING: CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** FRENCH PRESIDENT, EMMANUEL MACRON, SEATED ON PODIUM WITH IVORIAN PRESIDENT, ALASSANE OUATTARA FRENCH DEFENCE MINISTER, FLORENCE PARLY, SIGNING AGREEMENT WITH IVORIAN DEFENCE MINISTER, HAMED BAKAYOKO MACRON LOOKING ON MACRON AND OUATTARA SEATED AS AGREEMENTS ARE SIGNED (FROM LEFT) FRENCH SPORTS MINISTER ROXANA MARACINEANU, FRENCH FINANCE AND ECONOMY MINISTER BRUNO LE MAIRE, FRENCH HEALTH MINISTER AGNES BUZYN AND PARLY SEATED FRENCH JUNIOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER, JEAN-BAPTISTE LEMOYNE, SIGNING AGREEMENT WITH BAKAYOKO MACRON AND OUATTARA TAKING PLACES FOR NEWS CONFERENCE OUATTARA SPEAKING (SOUNDBITE) (French) IVORIAN PRESIDENT, ALASSANE OUATTARA, SAYING: "I am happy to announce that in agreement with the other heads of state of the WAEMU (West African Economic and Monetary Union), we have decided to reform the CFA franc with the three following major changes. Firstly, the renaming of the currency from the CFA franc to the Eco. Secondly, the end of the centralization of 50 percent of our reserves with the French treasury and the closing of the operating account. Thirdly, the withdrawal of France's representatives from all deciding and managing organs of the WAEMU." MACRON AND OUATTARA LISTENING TO QUESTION FROM REPORTER (SOUNDBITE) (French) IVORIAN PRESIDENT, ALASSANE OUATTARA, SAYING: "This Saturday 21 December 2019 is a historic day for our country and the whole of West Africa. This reform represents a big step in our will to make our region an integrated and dynamic economic space and a source of prosperity." MACRON AND OUATTARA LISTENING TO QUESTION FROM REPORTER (SOUNDBITE) (French) FRENCH PRESIDENT, EMMANUEL MACRON, SAYING: "I am very happy today to be at his (Ouattara's) side to announce these major historic reform. This reform aims to cross another step together, you mentioned the pillars of it a moment ago, dearest Alassane." MACRON SPEAKING (SOUNDBITE) (French) FRENCH PRESIDENT, EMMANUEL MACRON, SAYING: "Yes, it's the end of certain relics of the past. Yes it's progress. I do not think for a second that it's a loss of influence because it's a clarity given to friendship. I do not want influence through guardianship, I do not want influence through intrusion. That's not the century that's being built today and I believe that for our two countries, and for the relationship between the African continent and France, it's a balanced partnership." VARIOUS OF MACRON AND OUATTARA EMBRACING AT END OF NEWS CONFERENCE AND HOLDING ARMS UP VARIOUS OF LE MAIRE SIGNING AGREEMENT WITH BENIN'S FINANCE AND ECONOMY MINSTER AND COUNCIL PRESIDENT OF WAEMU MINISTERS, ROMUALD WADAGN END OF CONFERENCE, OUATTARA LEAVING / MACRON AND LE MAIRE SHAKING HANDS AND SPEAKING
- Embargoed: 4th January 2020 21:30
- Keywords: Alassane Ouattara CFA franc Eco Emmanuel Macron France Ivory Coast West Africa euro
- Location: ABIDJAN, IVORY COAST
- City: ABIDJAN, IVORY COAST
- Country: France
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA001BAX4APZ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: West Africa's monetary union has agreed with France to rename its CFA franc the Eco and cut some of the financial links with Paris that have underpinned the region's common currency since its creation soon World War Two, Ivory Coast's President Alassane Ouattara said during a news conference on Saturday (December 21).
Under the deal, the Eco will remain pegged to the euro but the African countries in the bloc won't have to keep 50% of their reserves in the French Treasury and there will no longer be a French representative on the currency union's board.
Critics of the CFA have long seen it as a relic from colonial times while proponents of the currency say it has provided financial stability in a sometimes turbulent region.
"This.... is a historic day for our country and the whole of West Africa," Ouattara said during a news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron in the country's main city Abidjan.
In 2017, Macron highlighted the stabilizing benefits of the CFA but said it was up to African governments to determine the future of the currency.
"Yes, it's the end of certain relics of the past. Yes it's progress ... I do not want influence through guardianship, I do not want influence through intrusion. That's not the century that's being built today," said Macron.
The CFA is used in 14 African countries with a combined population of about 150 million and $235 billion of gross domestic product.
However, the changes will only affect the West African form of the currency used by Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo - all former French colonies except Guinea Bissau.
The six countries using the Central African CFA are Cameroon, Chad, Central African Republic, Congo Republic, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, - all former French colonies with the exception of Equatorial Guinea.
The CFA's value relative to the French franc remained unchanged from 1948 through to 1994 when it was devalued by 50% to boost exports from the region.
After the devaluation, 1 French franc was worth 100 CFA and when the French currency joined the euro zone, the fixed rate became 1 euro to 656 CFA francs.
The agreement follows talks in Nigeria's capital Abuja on Saturday between West African leaders. Countries in the CFA bloc and other West African nations such as Nigeria and Ghana have for decades debated creating their own currency to promote regional trade and investment.
The CFA franc was born in 1945 and at the time stood for "Colonies Francaises d'Afrique" (French Colonies in Africa).
It now stands for "Communaute Financiere Africaine" (African Financial Community) in West Africa and in Central Africa it means "Cooperation Financiere en Afrique Centrale" (Financial Cooperation in Central Africa).
(Production: Clotaire Achi and Pascale Antonie)
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