The much-awaited bill ratifying the end of the CFA franc was adopted on Wednesday by the French Council of Ministers, the spokeswoman for the French government, Sibeth Ndiaye, announced.

‘It was during an official visit to Cote d’Ivoire in December 2019 that they [President Macron and French West African leaders] announced a historic reform of monetary cooperation that was to lead to the end of the CFA franc.

‘As the President of the Republic had been able to stress, this symbolic end was to be part of a renewal of the relationship between France and African countries,’ she said.

The text validates the transition of the CFA franc – used by eight French West African countries – to become the newly mooted Eco, a currency to be adopted by the entire West African bloc, ECOWAS.

It also marks the end of the centralisation of foreign exchange reserves of the eight West African states with the French Treasury.

In concrete terms, the Central Bank of West African States will no longer have to deposit half of its foreign exchange reserves with the Bank of France. France will also have to withdraw its presence from the governance bodies.

The fixed parity of the future Eco currency with the euro will have to be maintained. Eight countries concerned are Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo.

Critics of the CFA franc perceive it as one of the last vestiges of France’s colonial domination. The Central African version of the currency, XAF, however; continues to be used in six countries across the region.

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