“While remaining doubtful about the relevance of the decision to expel this brother, I would like to say that I am equally shocked to see that our currency remains of colonial inspiration,” wrote one Facebook-user based in Douala. For others, the protest requires a different strategy, turning to technology instead flames.

“For decades, Africans have been fighting to change the governance of the francophone zone. Some have died,” wrote academic Alain Nkoyock. “Since the crypto-currencies (Bitcoin, Monero, Cash, or Dash) and the related technologies around them are about to upset the financial sector, why not invest all our last efforts to bypass the CFA?”

West Africa seems unwilling to let go of the shared currency, even launching a digital version, the eCFA. The CFA has its roots in the colonial era when France chose to print a single currency (pdf) for its colonies rather than transport cash. With independence, the printing authority became the central banks of West and Central Africa, guided by policies from Paris.

France devalued the currency in 1994, bowing to pressure from the rest of Europe that its support was akin to a subsidy. Since then, little reform has taken place. The two economic regions are not quite integrated, yet their value to the euro is exactly the same. Interest rates are set by the European Central Bank and France dominates trade with CFA countries. On the plus side, inflation remains low and Guinea, the only francophone country that doesn’t use the shared currency, has struggled.

France’s influence over the economies of 14 African nations also has political repercussions, which many young francophone Africans have blamed their presidents for. Seba’s act of protest tapped into a debate that has already been simmering.

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