In what must be the most egregious lopsided economic agreements in history the 'independence' leaders of these countries allowed a deal whereby they 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.
All these nations were grouped under the CFA franc according to the pacte coloniale which also enshrined a special preference for France in the political, commercial and defence processes in the African countries. France was allowed to have pre-deployed troops in Africa; in other words, French army units present permanently and by rotation in bases and military facilities in Africa; run entirely by the French (and, incidentally, paid for by the Africans). In summary, the colonial pact maintained the French control over the economies of the African states; it took possession of their foreign currency reserves; it controlled the strategic raw materials of the country; it stationed troops in the country with the right of free passage; it demanded that all military equipment be acquired from France; it took over the training of the police and army; it required that French businesses be allowed to maintain monopoly enterprises in key areas (water, electricity, ports, transport, energy, etc.). France not only set limits on the imports of a range of items from outside the franc zone but also set minimum quantities of imports from France. These treaties are still in force and operational today.
Looking closely at the terms of the economic agreement one is actually startled that such neocolonial treaties were agreed upon. There are actually two separate CFA francs in circulation. The first is that of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) which comprises eight West African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo. The second is that of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) which comprises six Central African countries (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo-Brazzaville, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon), This division corresponds to the pre-colonial AOF (Afrique Occidentale Française) and the AEF (Afrique Équatoriale Française), with the exception that Guinea-Bissau was formerly Portuguese and Equatorial Guinea Spanish). Each of these two groups issues its own CFA franc. The WAEMU CFA franc is issued by the BCEAO and the CEMAC CFA franc is issued by the Banque des Etats de l’Afrique Centrale (BEAC). These currencies were originally both pegged at 100 CFA for each French franc but, after France joined the European Community’s Euro zone at a fixed rate of 6.65957 French francs to one Euro, the CFA rate to the Euro was fixed at CFA 665,957 to each Euro, maintaining the 100 to 1 ratio. It is important to note that it is the responsibility of the French Treasury to guarantee the convertibility of the CFA to the Euro. The monetary policy governing such a diverse aggregation of countries is uncomplicated for African Central Banks because it is, in fact, operated by the French Treasury, without reference to the central fiscal authorities of any of the WAEMU or the CEMAC. Under the terms of the agreement which set up these banks and the CFA the Central Bank of each African country is obliged to keep at least 65% of its foreign exchange reserves in an ‘operations account’ held at the French Treasury, as well as another 20% to cover financial liabilities. The CFA central banks also impose a cap on credit extended to each member country equivalent to 20% of that country’s public revenue in the preceding year. Even though the BEAC and the BCEAO have an overdraft facility with the French Treasury, the drawdowns on those overdraft facilities are subject to the consent of the French Treasury.
Over 80% of these forex reserves are deposited in French controlled operations accounts at the Treasury whose officials are prohibited from diosclosing even the respective national amounts. Its part Ponzi scheme and mafia protection racket on a scope undreamt of even by the international banskters of the WB/IMF, backed up of course by the French foreign legion who've never shied away from robust action in Africa whenever necessary. Claude,sitting pretty on the Champs Elysee will always get his piece of the action-whatever happens!
Look at the recent undeclared war with Gbagbo in Cote de Ivoire. At the time spending over 2mn $ daily bombing Libya they simply deducted the costs of the anti Gbagbo operation from the Ivorienne tranche at the Treasury. In 2006 after its citizens had to leave Abidjan hurriedly France demanded compensation,which their man,Ouattara generously paid twice over. Mind you this was after 70 Ivoriennes had been killed by French forces forcing Frenchmen to flee.
All Francophone presidents overthe years have been strangely silent over this issue. Boigny and the independence leaders seemed to reach an accommodation with this state of affairs that continued til only former president Wade,for all his foibles,asked for a proper accounting.
However,the template for French/ex colonial economic relations was set with Haiti;not for nothing is it long been known as the 'poorest country in the Western hemisphere'.After defeating Napoleon the French demanded an indemnity of 150 mn francs,17 bn euros today.
But after independence, French slave owners demanded compensation. In 1825 the French monarch Charles X demanded Haiti pay an "independence debt" of 150m gold francs – 10 times the fledgling nation's annual revenue. The original sum was reduced but Haiti still paid 90m gold francs – about €17bn today – to France. It was still paying off this debt in 1947.http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/aug/15/france-haiti-independence-debt
Where would one of the world's most unfortunate countries have been had they not had the crushing weight of odious debt and usurious interest rates round neck for generations? What if an appreciable sum of that money had been invested in social capital;schools and hospitals?
Methinks,the francophone elite would do well to study their Caribbean colinguists.Alas! Black French African upper class have always struck me as being a particularly self centred lot,mesmerised by their own fleeting good fortune. Also like many blacks they're too military weak as the Ivorienne crisis last year showed,to do anything but complain about matters.