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Information about currency: West African CFA Franc

Currency nameWest African CFA Franc
CountryWest African Economic and Monetary Union
Dates1945 -
System

Description

The West African CFA franc (French: franc CFA;Portuguese: franco CFA or simply franc, ISO 4217 code: XOF) is the currency of eight independent states in West Africa: Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Sénégal and Togo. These eight countries have a combined population of 105.7 million people (as of 2014), and a combined GDP of US$78.4 billion (as of 2012).

The acronym CFA stands for Communauté Financière d'Afrique ("Financial Community of Africa") or Communauté Financière Africaine ("African Financial Community"). The currency is issued by the BCEAO (Banque Centrale des États de l'Afrique de l'Ouest, "Central Bank of the West African States"), located in Dakar, Senegal, for the members of the UEMOA (Union Économique et Monétaire Ouest Africaine, "West African Economic and Monetary Union"). The franc is nominally subdivided into 100 centimes but no centime denominations have been issued.

The Central African CFA franc is of equal value to the West African CFA franc, and is in circulation in several central African states. They are both the CFA franc.

The CFA franc (in French: franc CFA or colloquially franc) is the name of two currencies used in Africa which are guaranteed by the French treasury. The two CFA franc currencies are the West African CFA franc and the Central African CFA franc. Although theoretically separate, the two CFA franc currencies are effectively interchangeable.

Both CFA Francs currently have a fixed exchange rate to the euro: 100 CFA francs = 1 former French (nouveau) franc = 0.152449 euro; or 1 euro = 655.957 CFA francs exactly.

Although Central African CFA francs and West African CFA francs have always been at parity and have therefore always had the same monetary value against other currencies, they are in principle separate currencies. They could theoretically have different values from any moment if one of the two CFA monetary authorities, or France, decided it. Therefore, West African CFA coins and banknotes are theoretically not accepted in countries using Central African CFA francs, and vice versa. However, in practice, the permanent parity of the two CFA franc currencies is widely assumed.

In 1948, aluminium 1- and 2-franc coins were introduced. These were followed in 1956 by aluminium-bronze 5, 10 and 25 francs. All carried the name Afrique Occidentale Française. In 1957, 10- and 25-franc coins were issued with the name of Togo added. From 1959, coins have been issued by the BCEAO.

Nickel 100-franc coins were introduced in 1967, followed by the cupro-nickel 50-franc coins in 1972. Small, steel 1-franc coins were introduced in 1976 (struck until 1995), followed by bimetallic 250 francs in 1992 (struck until 1996). In 2003, bimetallic 200- and 500-franc coins were introduced.

When the CFA franc was introduced, notes issued by the Banque Centrale des États de l'Afrique Occidentale in denominations of 5, 10, 25, 50, 100 and 1000 francs were in circulation. 500-franc notes were added in 1946, followed by those of 5,000 francs in 1948. In 1955, the Institut d'Emission de l'A.O.F. et du Togo took over the production of paper money, issuing notes for 50, 100, 500 and 1000 francs.

In 1959, the BCEAO took over the issuance of paper money and reintroduced a 5,000-franc note. With the exception of a few early issues, the notes of the BCEAO carry a letter to indicate the country of issuance. 50-franc notes were last issued in 1959, with 100 francs not issued since 1965. 10,000-franc notes were introduced in 1977, followed by 2,500-franc notes in 1992

In 2004, a new series of notes was introduced in denominations of 1,000, 2,000, 5,000 and 10,000 francs, with the 500-franc note having been replaced by a coin the year before. The newer notes contain updated security features and are more modern in design. The change was welcomed because of a perception that the old notes were dirty and disease-ridden. The colour of the 5,000-franc note was changed from blue to green. On November 30, 2012, the Banque Centrale des États de l'Afrique de l'Ouest (Central Bank of the West African States) issued a 500 franc banknote.

Currency West African CFA Franc was used:
Country From To
Guinea-Bissau West African CFA Franc 1997
Mali West African CFA Franc 1984
Ivory Coast West African CFA Franc 1960
Benin West African CFA Franc 1960
Mali West African CFA Franc 1960 1961
Mauritania West African CFA Franc 1960 1973
Niger West African CFA Franc 1960
Senegal West African CFA Franc 1960
Togo West African CFA Franc 1960
Burkina Faso West African CFA Franc 1960