Karibu Board Meeting

16. November




11 - 13 October - 2012

International Conference on Alternative West African Currencies

Dakar, 11-13 October 2012
Novotel Hotel and Cheikh Anta Diop University

The CFA franc has been the subject of much controversy since the early independence of African member countries of the franc zone. Early on, voices have been raised to denounce the link between the CFA franc and French currency, seen as an instrument of domination or subjugation of African countries. This was the case of the late Joseph Tchundjang Pouémi who, in his remarkable book, said: "France is the only country in the world to have passed the extraordinary feat of circulating its currency and nothing but its currency in countries that are politically free"

This "feat" of France allowed it to perpetuate its control over the economies of African countries whose poor performance over the past five decades since their "independence" has contributed to amplify the controversy over the nature and role of the CFA franc. Indeed, the latter has not contributed to the development of productive capacities of African countries or promoted economic integration. On the contrary, the CFA franc has strengthened their dependence vis-à-vis France and other members of the European Union.

The euro zone crisis has exacerbated the controversy over the CFA franc and helped fuel rumors about its possible devaluation. This revived the debate on the need to replace the CFA franc by a sovereign African currency to serve as a true instrument of economic and social transformation.

Indeed, in modern economies, money plays a crucial role. It has an influence on domestic resource mobilization and investment through interest rate policy. It has also a great influence on relations with the rest of the world because of its impact on external trade and capital flows. Finally, money is a key tool in the management of economic crises, as seen in Western countries in particular. For all these reasons and many others, it is essential that African countries have their own money to put at the service of development.

In the absence of a sub-regional currency, some voices advocate delinking the pegging of the CFA franc to the euro. This demand is based on the huge differences of economic policies between the euro area and the CFA area, on the one hand, and the need to design endogenous development programs for African countries, on the other.

But the prospect for creating a sovereign currency instead of the CFA must be understood in the general context aimed at challenging the development model inherited from colonization in order to explore other avenues that are owned by African countries.

Rethinking development issues on the continent from the vision that African countries have of their future and relying primarily on their own strength: this is the challenge that African countries have to meet here and now. Everywhere in countries of the South, governments and their people seek to find their own path to development, thus increasing their distrust of the dominant model whose crisis of legitimacy continues to deepen.

Africa cannot remain on the sidelines of this movement of political and economic emancipation. The systemic crisis of capitalism and appeals to countries of the South to take control of their own destiny offer the opportunity to raise again the debate on the concept of development in Africa.

It is in this general context that will take place this International Conference on the CFA franc and the prospects for creating a sovereign African currency.

In addition to the inventory of the results of economic policies in Africa, this conference aims to achieve the two main objectives below:

• Demonstrate that the CFA is an obstacle to the development of African countries. Operating mechanisms of the franc zone and monetary policies imposed on the latter are largely responsible for the failure of the CFA franc to be an instrument of development of African countries. An illustration of this failure is reflected in their economic and social record, most of which are classified in the category of “least developed countries” (LDCs).
• Explore alternatives to the current system, either through bold reforms or by getting rid of the CFA franc. This alternative is consistent with the view that getting out of the trap of the franc zone and the creation of a sovereign currency is among the conditions that are necessary to promote the development of African countries.

Among the specific objectives of the conference, we have the following:

• an analysis of the global context characterized by the systemic crisis of capitalism and the challenge to its legitimacy in several regions of the world, particularly in developing countries
• an overview of attempts at economic and monetary emancipation underway in other parts of the South, especially in Latin America, and the lessons that can be drawn by African countries
• A thorough review of the experience of the franc zone and its implications for the development of African countries, including the analysis of the economic and social record of the latter
• an analysis of the experiences of countries that have acquired their monetary sovereignty and the lessons they have for the creation of a West African currency

The meeting is expected to shed new light on the constraints inherent in the use of the CFA franc in particular obstacle that it represents for the development of African countries. In addition, the conference should strengthen the arguments of those who claim that a break with the CFA franc and the creation of a sovereign currency are essential to mustering the conditions for a genuine development of African countries.

Beyond the issue of the CFA franc, the Conference should make an important contribution to current debates on the need for African countries to seek ways of economic emancipation in light of the failure of models that have been externally imposed on them for more than five decades. In this regard, two issues should be discussed at the conference:
1) Is the liberal path adapted to meet Africa's development?
2) If not, what are the main alternatives?

Finally, the meeting would be an opportunity for in-depth discussions on the current crisis of capitalism and its implications for the African continent. From this analysis, it should help to strengthen the arguments on the need for Africa to free itself from the dominant model and take its own path to development.

Participants will be composed of researchers, representatives of sub-regional and continental institutions; social movements, parliamentarians and members of political parties and the private sector as well as civil society

The diversity of participants should generate analysis and lively and contradictory exchanges that will enrich the debate not only on the currency issue but on the issue of African development in general.

For more information on the International Conference on African Countries and the Franc Zone, contact Demba  Moussa Dembele at arcade.sen(a)

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