Book review — ‘Africa’s Last Colonial Currency – The CFA Franc Story’ by Pigeaud and Sylla

The book ‘Africa’s Last Colonial Currency – The CFA Franc Story’ written by Fanny Pigeaud and Ndongo Samba Sylla, published in 2021 made stout assertions that put French-speaking African countries’ monetary concerns in limelight.

Fanny Pigeaud is a journalist who has written several books, including A Decade in Cameroon while Ndongo Samba Sylla is a Senegalese development economist and researcher at the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation. The Fair Trade Scandal was his first book.

Pigeaud and Sylla describe the history, operation, and implications of the last remaining colonial currency: the franc. The CFA franc, a currency with colonial origins and continued colonial uses, is used by more than a dozen independent African countries. As anti-colonial currency protests grow, it’s more important than ever to debunk myths about the CFA Franc, and this expose of colonial infrastructure demonstrates that decolonisation is still a work in progress.

Due to the persistence of imperial monetary policy, colonialism still exists in many African countries. The CFA Franc and economic imperialism is a little-known account. In 1945, the CFA Franc was established, uniting fourteen African countries and dividing them into two monetary zones.

Why was it created by French colonial rulers, and how does it work? Why was former French colonies’ monetary sovereignty not extended along with their independence? The writers attempt to answer these and other concerns by delving into the origins of the currency and examining how the economic system functions.

Read Also: Book Review — ‘My Footprints in Ghana’s Black Gold’ by Dr. A Ofori Quaah

Beginning with a historical summary, Sylla and Pigeaud retrace the CFA Franc story. France, like every other colonial powers in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, was anxious to develop – or impose – its own currency in Africa’s conquered territory in order to bind the colonies politically and economically.

According to Sylla and Pigeaud, several African parliamentarians chastised the CFA Franc, which brought them nothing but debts. The creation of the CFA Franc only meant a higher standard of living and a safe and cheap source of raw materials for France.

While discussing their book in a 2021 interview with Jacobin Magazine, Sylla called the CFA franc “colonialism repackaged” while Pigeaud weighing in explained that “we can see the same behavior now with the recent so-called reforms. It’s just marketing — but in fact, everything remains the same. The French are quite good at this.”

As the book shows, even when African countries have returned their official independence, France is still attempting to maintain its economic and political clout. The book gives a fair understanding of the CFA Franc imperialistic arguments.

You can get a copy of 'Africa's Last Colonial Currency - The CFA Franc Story' by Fanny Pigeaud and Ndongo Samba Sylla on Amazon 

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