The president of Benin, Patrice Guillaume Talon, says he and his fellow counterparts in Francophone Africa have resolved to sever ties with the central bank of France.
According to a report by Eye Gambia, Talon spoke to Radio France Internationale (RFI) and said the question is one thing on which France’s former colonies “unanimously agree”.
Under a pre-independence accord with 14 sub-Saharan countries in the late 1950s, France demanded that all countries that wished to be free needed to pay for the “positives” colonisation had given Africans.
When Guinea’s independence leader, Sekou Toure, refused to agree to France’s demands, a punitive example was made of his country. The French destroyed or took away everything they believed they had created in Guinea.
Another of the terms of the accord was that independent countries needed to keep in the French central bank, 65% (now 50%) of their reserves. There was also a percentage to be kept because of what the French called “liabilities”.
Currently, 14 countries abide by the accord. They are Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Togo, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo-Brazzaville, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.
Francophone countries were also instructed by France to use the CFA franc, the means of exchange in France’s African colonies since 1945.
The strength of the CFA is set according to the agreement, by the French at 1 Euro (formerly 1 French franc) to about 655 CFA francs.
However, France insists that its monetary accord with former colonies in Africa is optional. It also dismisses the idea that the amounts paid by the countries to the French central bank is a colonial tax.
It has been suggested in the past that a number of African countries tied to the French policy desired to break away. However, this is the first time a head of state in Africa has spoken of a unanimous agreement.
Talon, in his interview with RFI, is reported to have continued: “I can’t give you the date but the willingness is already there. Psychologically, with regards to the vision of sovereignty and managing your own money, this is not a good model.”