19 Oct 2017

Will Macron put a stop to French colonialism?

For more than 50 years, the citizens of 14 francophone countries in Africa have been using an outdated French monetary system. They pay the price of it with their democratic rights and wealth, leaving their own countries in poverty.

Editorial Team
Editorial Team NewsMavens, Europe
Source: [svika]works
Will Macron put a stop to French colonialism? - NewsMavens

Why this story matters:

-- by Inemarie Dekker, October 2017

The newly elected President of France -- Emmanuel Macron -- is to be a promise for change, “lifting France into the 21st century’’:  a more modern socio-economic system in France, a new role for France in uniting European Union countries and -- as the 163 million inhabitants of francophone Africa hoped for -- a more equal relationship with France.

Why? For more than 50 years, the citizens of 14 francophone countries in Africa have been using an outdated French monetary system. They pay the price of it with their democratic rights and wealth, leaving their own countries in poverty. Whereas France is still benefitting financially and commercially from a joint currency they introduced during colonial times.

As a citizen of the European Union, I am involved with the African policies of France too. In the Netherlands, many do not seem to know much about it. But once we know, I think we can all agree that it’s about time for us to change. Whether an enthusiast or opponent of development aid, we should know our role in the development of other countries, before we can offer an opinion or a solution -- as citizens, donors, ngo-workers or politicians.

The biggest question now remains: will Emmanuel Macron continue these African policies, once implemented by De Gaulle, immediately after the independence of the French colonies in Africa? Ndongo Samba Sylla, a Senegalese development economist, says: “France cannot maintain these relationships. France knows it is no longer defendable. And it is no longer accepted.”

Details from the story:

  • Today 14 French-speaking countries in Africa are still using a currency (the CFA-franc) France introduced 70 years ago, during colonial times.
  • The CFA-franc used to be connected to the French franc -- and now to our Euro -- with a fixed exchange-rate.
  • African banks in these 14 countries do not have monetary autonomy, because they are always dependent on the Euro and thus on the decisions of the European Central Bank.
  • The French Treasury holds around 9,5 billion euros of foreign exchange reserves of the 14 African countries (plus the interest over it over the last 70 years). These African countries cannot access their own money, which is 50% of their foreign exchange reserves.
  • This French monetary system is hindering the economic and democratic development of the French former colonies in Africa. These 14 French-speaking countries are amongst the poorest in the world and its citizens cannot hold their leaders to account (when it comes to financial matters).

 **This article was written as part of a NewsMavens collaboration with exceptional freelance women journalists in Europe. As a freelancer, Inemarie Dekker supports people achieving social impact in the Netherlands and in Africa. Check out her website here.**


Project #Femfacts co-financed by European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology as part of the Pilot Project – Media Literacy For All

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