‘We don’t like our money:’ The story of the CFA and Bitcoin in Africa

Nearly 150 million people use the franc of the Financial Community of Africa (CFA) on a daily basis, from Senegal in the extreme west to Gabon in the center of the continent.

Used in 14 countries, the CFA is pegged to the euro, printed in France and its monetary policy is controlled by Western powers. As Fodé Diop, a Bitcoin (BTC) Lightning developer hailing from Senegal details, “the IMF and the French government still control the currency.”

While the official peg to the euro is 1 euro to 655.96 CFA francs, its purchasing power has eroded over time. In 1994, the World Bank devalued the CFA franc against the franc from 1:50 to 1:100. That year, West Africans woke up to realize the value of their life savings had been slashed in half.

Gloire, the founder of Kiveclair, a Bitcoin Beach-inspired refugee project in the Congo, told Cointelegraph that the CFA “makes whole countries dependent,” and “it is usually the poorest who suffer.” He explained the situation in 1994:

“The most striking example is that of 1994 when France and a privileged few decided to devalue the CFA Franc. There is no guarantee that such a thing will not happen again, especially since the global economy is threatened.”

Prior to the creation of Bitcoin, West Africans could store their money in euros, U.S. dollars or traditional stores of value: real estate and commodities. For everyday people, however, those options are not readily available.

Mama Bitcoin, the first retailer to accept cryptocurrency in Senegal, told Cointelegraph that the CFA is “disempowering.” She suggests that Bitcoin could provide a way out.

“Our money belongs to France, the CFA is made in France and is — for want of a better word, colonial money. Bitcoin, however, Bitcoin belongs to everyone.”

With the arrival of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, indeed, there is now a viable alternative. Gloire suggests that “Bitcoin can help the countries of the CFA Zone to free themselves from France to finally turn the dark page of colonization.”

In Senegal, Mouhammad Dieng, co-founder of SenBlock, a nonprofit organization for crypto promotion and adoption,…

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