Zone franc

Franc Zone

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9 Sep 1939.

'Colonial Period': the France Zone existed, de facto but without that title, before World War II. The French franc was the currency of the French colonies up to the middle of the 19th century, from which time France organized progressively the issuing of currency by private banks 'in situ' to take account of local credit requirements. These banks, which included H-XH0163 - Banque de l'Indochine and H-XH0173 - Banque de l'Afrique occidentale, were under the overall control of the French administration. At the end of World War I, mechanisms were put in place to allow parity of exchange between bank notes issued by the Bank of France and those issued in the colonies.

'Formal Establishment' The existence of the Franc Zone was made official at the outbreak of World War II, when measures such as the non-convertibility of the French franc and exchange controls made it necessary to exclude Franc Zone countries from such requirements.

'Creation of the CFA franc' (franc des colonies françaises d'Afrique) - on 25 Dec 1945. Parity was fixed at 1.7; this increased to 2.0 in Oct 1998 and to 0.02 in 1960 (in line with the new French franc). It then remained unchanged until devaluation on 11 Jan 1994, from which time parity is 0.01. The 'Caisse centrale de la France libre', set up in 1941, London (UK), and later to evolve into the 'Caisse centrale de Coopération économique (CCCE)', currently G-XG9639 - Agence française de développement (AFD), issued bank notes for Equatorial Africa and the Cameroon, but for many countries responsibility was gradually transferred to nationalized banks of the countries concerned.

'Regional Institutions' In Apr 1959, newly independent states in Africa set up regional banks of their own: F-XF4541 - Banque centrale des Etats de l'Afrique de l'Ouest (BCEAO) and H-XH0385 - Banque centrale des Etats de l'Afrique équatoriale et du Cameroun (BCEAC). The official name for the CFA franc in the countries of BCEAO - F-XF0749 - Communauté financière africaine (CFA) - became 'franc de la Communauté financière africaine', while for BCEAC countries it became 'franc de la Coopération financière en Afrique centrale, but the value of the two CFA francs was the same. BCEAO founding countries united in H-XD3426 - Union monétaire Ouest africaine (UMOA) on 12 May 1962.

'Agreements with the Government of France on Monetary Cooperation' 1972-1973. These agreements extended the area of authority of the central banks in the Franc Zone. BCEAC was replaced by F-XF4535 - Banque des Etats de l'Afrique centrale (BEAC) on 23 Nov 1972, and a new agreement was signed with the French government. On 14 Nov 1973, the countries of UMOA (no longer including Mauritania) set up F-XF4540 - Banque ouest africaine de développement (BOAD) and an agreement with France was signed on 4 Dec 1973. These agreements (still in force) reduced the French influence on the Banks and allowed them to participate more actively in the development of member countries. Their headquarters moved to African capitals.

'Recent Developments' The treaty setting up F-XF3713 - Union économique et monétaire Ouest africaine (UEMOA), signed in 1994, completed that of UMOA, and BCEAO and BOAD became specialized autonomous institutions of UEMOA. A similar scheme was completed for countries of F-XF3714 - Communauté économique et monétaire d'Afrique centrale (CEMAC), 1999. These countries are collectively referred to as F-XF3711 - Pays africains de la Zone franc (PAZF).


Not an organization but an administrative zone. Since 1964, F-XF6184 - Conférence des ministres des finances des pays de la Zone franc meets twice a year to survey matters of common interest, usually in spring in the capital of an African country and in September in Paris (France). E-XE1202 - Comité monétaire de la Zone franc, set up 5 Feb 1952, Paris, by French ministerial decree, now exists only in theory but there is no official text expressly disbanding the Committee. F-XF4650 - Economic and Statistical Observatory for Sub-Saharan Africa (AFRISTAT), set up 21 Sep 1993, Abidjan (Côte d'Ivoire), assists in developing economic, social and environmental statistics in Franc Zone countries.


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