Home / Africa / How France loots its former colonies

How France loots its former colonies

We try to keep a positive vibe going here at This Is Africa, but every so often you come across something that just paints your mood black. Some of you may already be aware of this, but if like us you’re hearing about this for the first time your jaw will drop. And it’ll probably raise the same BIG questions in your mind that it did in ours.

Incidentally, once you read this you’ll no longer wonder why French presidents and ministers are sometimes greeted by protests when they visit former French colonies in Africa, even if the protests are about other issues. Though what other issues could be more important than this one we have no idea.

Monetary bankruptcy

Just before France conceded to African demands for independence in the 1960s, it carefully organised its former colonies (CFA countries) in a system of “compulsory solidarity” which consisted of obliging the 14 African states to put 65% of their foreign currency reserves into the French Treasury, plus another 20% for financial liabilities. This means these 14 African countries only ever have access to 15% of their own money! If they need more they have to borrow their own money from the French at commercial rates! And this has been the case since the 1960s.

Believe it or not, it gets worse.

France has the first right to buy or reject any natural resources found in the land of the Francophone countries. So even if the African countries can get better prices elsewhere, they can’t sell to anybody until France says it doesn’t need the resources.

In the award of government contracts, French companies must be considered first; only after that can these countries look elsewhere. It doesn’t matter if the CFA countries can obtain better value for money elsewhere.

Presidents of CFA countries that have tried to leave the CFA zone have had political and financial pressure put on them by successive French presidents.

No escaping the CFA Zone

Thus, these African states are French taxpayers – taxed at a staggering rate – yet the citizens of these countries aren’t French and don’t have access to the public goods and services their money helps pay for.

CFA zones are solicited to provide private funding to French politicians during elections in France.

The above is a summary of an article we came across in the February issue of the New African (and from an interview given by Professor Mamadou Koulibaly, Speaker of the Ivorian National Assembly, Professor of Economics, and author of the book The Servitude of the Colonial Pact), and we hope they won’t mind us sharing it with you influx, so here goes:

The colonial pact

It is the Colonial Pact that set up the common currency for the Francophone countries, the CFA Franc, which demands that each of the 14 C.F.A member countries must deposit 65% (plus another 20% for financial liabilities, making the dizzying total of 85%) of their foreign exchange reserves in an “Operations Account” at the French Treasury in Paris.

The African nations therefore have only access to 15% of their own money for national development in any given year. If they are in need of extra money, as they always are, they have to borrow from their own 65% in the French Treasury at commercial rates. And that is not all: there is a cap on the credit extended to each member country equivalent to 20% of their public revenue in the preceding year.

So if the countries need to borrow more than 20%, too bad; they cannot do it. Amazingly, the final say on the C.F.A arrangements belongs to the French Treasury, which invests the African countries’ money in its own name on the Paris Bourse (the stock exchange).

Ownership of natural resources

It is also the Colonial Pact that demands that France has the first right to buy or reject any natural resources found in the land of the Francophone countries. So even if the African countries could get better prices elsewhere, they cannot sell to anybody until France says it does not want to buy those natural resources.

It is, again, the Colonial Pact that demands that in the award of government contracts in the African countries, French companies should be considered first; only after that can Africans look elsewhere. It doesn’t matter if Africans can obtain better value for money elsewhere, French companies come first, and most often get the contracts. Currently, there is the awkward case in Abidjan where, before the elections, former president Gbagbo’s government wanted to build a third major bridge to link the central business district (called Plateau) to the rest of the city, from which it is separated by a lagoon. By Colonial Pact tradition, the contract must go to a French company, which incidentally has quoted an astronomical price – to be paid in euros or US dollars.

From Parliament to resources

Not happy, Gbagbo’s government sought a second quote from the Chinese, who offered to build the bridge at half the price quoted by the French company, and – wait for this – payment would be in cocoa beans, of which Cote d’Ivoire is the world’s largest producer. But, unsurprisingly, the French said “non, you can’t do that”.

Overall the Colonial Pact gives the French a dominant and privileged ?position over Francophone Africa, but in Côte d’Ivoire, the jewel of the former French possessions in Africa, the French are overly dominant. Outside parliament, almost all the major utilities – water, electricity, telephone, transport, ports and major banks – are run by French companies or French interests. The same story is found in commerce, construction, and agriculture.

In short, the Colonial Pact has created a legal mechanism under which? France obtains a special place in the political and economic life of its former colonies.

The big questions

In what meaningful way can any of the 14 CFA countries be said to be independent?

If this isn’t illegal and an international crime, then what is?

What is it going to take for this state of indentured servitude to end?

How much have the CFA countries lost as a result of this 50-year (and counting) “agreement”? (Remember, they’ve had to borrow their own money from the French at commercial rates)

Do French people know they’re living off the wealth of African countries and have been doing so for over half a century? And if they know, do they give a damn?

When will France start paying back money they’ve sucked from these countries, not only directly from the interest on cash reserves and loans these countries have had to take out, but also on lost earnings from the natural resources the countries sold to France below market rates as well as the lost earnings resulting from awarding contracts to French companies when other contractors could have done things for less?

Does any such “agreement” exist between Britain and its former colonies, or did they really let go when they let go?

By Siji Jabbar on January 24, 2013 — For similar stories, visit: This Is Africa

Check Also

UPDATE: Hugo Broos denies reports he is planning to leave Cameroon for South Africa

It has been reported in several international news outlets that Hugo Broos was planning to …

48 comments

  1. I have Read this before. If we do not fight to put an end to this the slavery would continue. Here is an article on this

    siliconafrica.com/france-colonial-tax/

    • West Cameroons Ancestry

      We have to start by putting some mechanisms in place for a million people protest match in Paris against this colonial slavery and get the French far rights involved. We must stand up and not let the indiscretion of our forefathers take its toll on us. It’s not our fault, the cycle must be broken.

  2. BIYA MUST GO ( BMG) Reserved

    NO CURRENCY IS BETTER THAN A BAD CURRENCY.
    Simply put, trading by batter would have been more advantageous for LRC than using the FCFA.

    • BIYA MUST GO ( BMG) Reserved

      “In the award of government contracts, French companies must be considered first; only after that can these countries look elsewhere.”

      Case study LRC

      ****LRC – A PLANTATION OF BOLLORE****

      Pius Njawé(RIP) of Le Messager once wrote that ” The interference of the Bolloré group in the political life of Cameroun is no doubt. It’s a sort of state in the state, Bolloré is a perfect illustration of Françafrique”
      Mr. Njawe was perfectly correct. Biya has sold Cameroun to Bollore

      1. Camrail railway company since 1999 (until 2034),
      2. concession of the container terminal of the port of Douala in 2005 (until 2020).
      3. Bolloré Africa Logistics since September 2008, ispresent in the economic capital Douala, in the political capital of Yaoundé and in the north of Garoua
      4. Bollore is a shareholder of Alucam in Edea
      5. Bolloreis in charge of the logistics of the Chad-Cameroon pipeline
      6. Bollore participates in the “plundering” of the Cameroonian forest
      7. Bollore manages a wooden park thanks to its Society of Wooden Parks of Cameroon (SEPBC)
      8.Bollore also controls huge plantations, either directly via Safacam, which operates 8,400 hectares of oil palms and rubber trees, or indirectly via the Belgian company Socfinal, which manages 31,000 hectares of oil palms in the country. ).
      9. Bolloré’s interference in the internal affairs of Cameroon is an open secret
      10. Bollore is in charge of the Autonomous Port of Douala (PAD),
      11. Bollore is in charge of the Autonomous Port of Kribi (PAD).
      12. etc, etc

      No wonder lawyers have draged Bollore before a French court. In Cameroon they would have had no Chance since the puppet of Bollore, Biya, would have meddled with the judgement. Biya started by using taxpayers Money to pay the medical bills of the victims of one of the richest private Companies on planet earth, Bollore.

  3. Liberia, Sudan, Lesotho, Malawi, etc. are all lest developed than Cameroon even though they have thier own currency! Do you really think that cameroon officials will be better managing a local currency given that they are not even able to manage a company? (Camair-co is the best example). The CFA Franc is maybe a colonial currency but don’t believe that getting rid of it and keeping the people in charge of our country would change anything. A Government that is killing its own citizens would never go anywhere.

    • GermaKAKU the problem is not necessarily the currency but the financial enslavement which includes the currency. There are many countries that have currencies tied without financial enslavement.
      It would have been nice that you mention the most developed countries in Africa as well – South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana and rapidly advancing countries like Kenya, Angola – to the list. The truth is, when innovation, progress, development is spoken of in Africa, not a single French Colony is thought of (notice I didn’t say former French Colony)…We can use whatever currency we please, but to be paying taxes, to be forced to use another country as treasury and then borrow off your own money is absurd and unacceptable)….Change has to come and it has to come quickly…and from what I discern it won’t come at the level of the government. It will have to be forced at grass roots levels…now there is a lot of noise about the issue, which is good…the momentum would build and the mighty France would have no choice but to fold.

      • Heine,

        The currency is the enslavement. I could even add that it is a symbol of the ineptitude of all the African people that have categorically refused to be imaginative with regards to their own upliftment. How is it possible that in this era, we are still unable to create our own monetary policy across this entire region? Absurdly, you hear elements chanting about INHERITING the CFA; just like they chant psalms about INHERITING the rasclaaat Common Law, Civil Law, Anglosaxon system and all that nonsense! So why exactly do we even need to punish ourselves claiming that we are going to school to educate ourselves when we have been all but incapacitated mentally? Yet, thousands of PhDs have emerged from the University of Buea, Yaoundé, Douala, Dschang, etc etc etc… and they jump around croaking like little toads while little ants are busy building colonies upon colonies!

  4. Another reason why LRC doesn’t want to let go of West Cameroon. The French have been doing this for years and I do have African leaders to blame. They don’t have balls and can’t stand up for the nation. Our hero’s , those who saw this coming where assassinated back in the days when Semengue was a porter in the colonial army. Semengue and colleagues were sell outs. Anyway, Africa needs to wake up. I am saying it again, “make me head of state , and the French will be gone in 2 months”. It will be tough for a couple of years but we are a rich country and can survive. Biya has no balls even at his age can’t stand up for what is right. Central and West Africa is ruled by a bunch of brainwashed, sadistic , corrupt and good for nothing fellows.

    • BIYA MUST GO ( BMG) Reserved

      You are very correct.

      The French and Bollore in particular will never allow West Cameroon to leave without a fight.
      Their advisers are surely pulling the strings behind the Scenes.
      West Cameroon should therefore take their collective destiny into their hands and shake off forever the fetters of French-sponsored annexionist-cum-assimilationist enslavement and trammels.

      • BIYA MUST GO ( BMG) Reserved

        West CameroonianIANS should theirfore take their…..

      • Mola,

        If they don’t want to leave in peace they will leave running or in body bags. Do you know that just these few days of strike timber shipment from the SW has been greatly obstructed by our boys who dug up trenched on those narrow dirty trcks which they use to steal our timeber. The timber truck drivers have even been threatened with kidnapping if they dare attempt to transport stolen time harvested from the SW, but stamped Sangmelima to council which the taxes are paid. Insane thieves.

        • BIYA MUST GO ( BMG) Reserved

          Mola,

          This Problem started as a joke but now the momentum is unstoppable

          Biya thinks that Anglophones still care about his decrees.
          A referendum is the only solution to this problem

    • They LRC, will instead tell you in pride and arrogance that the entire country has the same problem, cameroon is one and indivisible and mix up words like national security, political stability, patriotism, etc without any understanding of their implications. We must not sit down with them and do nothing even if we all face the same difficulties. That’s exactly why we must get out of this evil union.

      • On point bro! No turning back until we take this struggle all the way to its logical conclusion – Restoration of the statehood of the Southern Caneroons. LRC will rather kill all of us before ever claiming that territory again. Everyone now takes orders from the Consortium and untill our leaders and all the abducted citizen of SC are released, LRC will never have peace. We saw a Yaounde city covered with dark clouds yesterday and before the day concluded, a crash that took away some of their evil men from the battle field. God is fighting our battle for us. The operation ghost country and no schools will continue indefinitely

    • Mola,

      The entire universe can see that the biggest balls on this jamdong planet are hanging and dangling from your waist as you continue to gave away all the valuable land that mother Africa put in your custody. Today, you own almost nothing and your people have abandoned your cities to hide in the hills of Fako where the majestic sound of victory shall be proclaimed from your big big balls! The biggest balls are chanting war up in the rasclaaat volcanic hills and miracles are happening across the nation below!

    • I agree with you bro, I always say that if an anglophone becomes president of this country, 10 years later, Cameroon will become african hub.

      • @jean How many times did you offer common piece of chalk to students school goers of your village? As your village elite start by developing your own area before talking about the whole country.

        • Camfranglais Sweden

          Colby, ou est le rapport avec le sujet en question? qu’est-ce que mon village a a y voir? suis-je oblige de te rendre compte de mes actions? Dois-je faire la publicite Franchement, avant de reagir aux differents commentaires, tu ferais mieux de bien lire ligne par ligne la thematique, avant de poser des questions betes.

  5. @Germankkaku, I think they will learn after sometime. Never easy at the very beginning but we will learn to do that

    • When those really fascinating big big balls got cut open, it was found that they had been housing seeds as tiny as little grains of corn. Then, given such an abnormally, the question that was raised was whether the long-anticipated castration was worth the trouble! What a terrible disappointment this must have been for the cheering masses. I mean, it explains it all… big big balls could be deceiving!

  6. It should have been a surprise if France did not put in place such a system.it is absolutely normal and logical. For a Christian people who have lived on exploitation for over 20 generations. It becomes part of their personality and collective consciousness. The problem is not France but us. Do we know that we are in war?when an African says he is a Christian, he validates the existence of the cfa because it was imposed on us by the same France. Why accept wereh ngang and deny the cfa? When an African name his or her child Pierre,marie,Michele, he declared his submission to France.my observation is that some of us have been brainwashed to hate freedom. We call ourselves francophone Anglo phones, that is seeing ourselves through them.why criticize the cfa if we can’t even accept that we are Africans..?what does the name John mean in African?

  7. Lets listen to Pinguiss

  8. Korup Forest Reserved

    Sorry but let me have big doubts about this article. So you will tell me that all natural resources found by the Chinese are sold to the French? I don’t believe this. I don’t deny that France has big influence in Cameroon but you don’t need to exagerate.

    • Krup forest,,,,, if I were you a decerndant of those who invaded the world slaughtering millions of people for wealth. I will never venture to write what you wrote above. It makes you look animalistic in the eyes of others. Not to say you personally consumed wealth generated from human slaughter making you directly guilty. Is there any Aryan who is not guilty of living on stolen wealth?

    • THERE IS GOD OHHHHH United States

      The Chinese are they for business and nothing but business. Same way they do business wit everyone including the United States. Now the terms of those trade agreements may be up for debate but at least the Chinese don’t don’t mix business wit politics like those French hawks. China’s presence in Africa is fairly recent and for u to compare that with what the French are doing proves you have no firm understanding of the situation at hand ..!!

  9. West Cameroonians approximately 6million are the only members forced into la Francophonie without prior knowledge of such a contract.
    Our brothers in the East had leaders who were party to this agreement to continue enslaving them for eternity.
    What is the population of La Francophonie in Africa being enslaved by French policies more than 200million black people
    If our fathers in West Cameroon fought against each other just to convince us to join East Cameroon without knowing that the leaders of East Cameroon were already in contract with the French to keep Cameroon as a plantation now that we know better should we in West Cameroon be fighting to stay in this union knowing that East Cameroon is beholden to France not to the nation of Cameroon and most importantly West Cameroon
    The strategy of France in Concert with Adhidjo and Biya is to Francophonize the West Cameroon minority so as to assimilate us into the sea of African Francophonie more than 200million strong.
    Fellow west Cameroonians we are in a fight of our lifetime, we must die giving our best or in 50yrs we will not exist as we know it.
    I have always wondered why the African Francophonie given their number and Money have not raised hell against the French to change these policies. Can the French assassinate all the leaders of the 14 Francophonie nation states at once ? When you have French black People like Bongo, Biya, Ouattarra then you know these policies will never change.
    Why would any Cameroonian think imposing French on West Cameroonians would make Cameroon more independent?
    “Why would anyone ask a homosexual Male (East Cameroon) to marry a heterosexual woman (West Cameroon). This marriage is very bad for both because a third party France is always in the middle screwing the other in the derrière “

    • The only trouble I see here is the heterosexual woman that CHOSE to marry the homosexual man… and got impregnated and produced some 6 million seedlings that are still struggling to understand the deviant homoerotic conduct of the mother. What you observe, you participate in it, lady! How could the heterosexual woman be jamming a rasclaaat element that is locked in some devious perversity with the third party? Tell me this thing, woman!

  10. This headline should read:

    “How France Loots Africa with the help of Africans like po mbiya, watarat, iyadima, susu gesso, ratundada mbappe, maccacake mbamois etc”

    Kikikikikikiki

  11. So the elected speaker of the Ivorian assembly has no influence in stopping this exploitation? They better start supporting the West Cameroon cause for we hold the key to their liberation.

  12. Ngia-ah Lum we should not be making this mistake at this juncture. What transpired between East and West Cameroon was the coming together of two equals to form a union. Even the premier lucifer of Cameroon in the person of Ahidjo clarified this position in several of his public pronouncements. It was never a marriage. Saying it was a marriage is the crux of the Southern Cameroon problem which is what has force some recalcitrant french speaking Cameroonians to be condescending towards the West Cameroonians as if we owe them something. This is further from the truth as they owe us a lot. Why do I say this? It is because the answer reveals itself in the fact that the fight to emancipate the confused mentality of the french speaking Cameroonian has been disproportionately shouldered by the Southern Cameroonians. Strangely enough rather than this fight earning us respect and admiration, it has instead earn us the savagery of individuals who at best will do just about anything to prove their loyalty as stooges to the french leeches.

  13. Clause 2 of the 1959 Co-operation Accords mandates France to determine the “education curricula” for Camerounian schools. How can students brainwashed to think France is home, Mr Biya and most of the cabinet included, ever overthrow a system created from home? Cannot happen. You will need a President Paul Kagame who schooled Anglosaxon in Uganda to replace neo-colonially tainted Francophone education in Cameroon. In 2009, Kagame ousted the french curricula (see theguardian.com/education/2009/jan/16/rwanda-english-genocide) from Rwandan classrooms.

  14. This article is PLAIN TRUTH and proof of our post 1960 Cameroonian leaders’ meekness or self-enslavement (of Cameroonians vis-à-vis France and the West) through the submissive acceptance of neocolonialism. Unfortunately, this is even not the whole truth. In addition to what’s written in the article, the said colonial accords (or pacts) also include the fact that:

    Invited or not, ON ITS UNILATERAL CHOOSING, FRANCE CAN MILITARILY INTERVENE IN ANY CONFLICT THAT OCCURS IN ANY OF THE 14 FRANCOPHONE COUNTRIES. Hence the latest interpositions in Cote d’Ivoire (the official name of Ivory Cost) to brutally remove Gbagbo and forcefully install Ouattara, and France’s involvement in the fight of Islamic extremists in the northern part of Mali. The first such unilateral interventions by France after the so-called African independencies in the 19660s occurred in 1961 Habib Bourguiba’s Tunisia, and in 1964 Léon M’ba’s Gabon (for those who can read French, see legrandsoir.info/liste-des-interventions-militaires-francaises-en-afrique.html).

    All francophone Africa’s leaders and presidents are held hostage by this pact of unilateral invasion of African countries by France. Moreover, we know that the murderous French political system cannot tolerate nor foster such leaders as Gandhi, Mandela, or Dr. M. L. King (i.e., FRANCE MERCILESSLY KILLS AND NEVER BARGAINS!).

    Cameroon is a special case in that, TECHNICALLY or factually, although ABUSED as such, our country WAS EVEN NOT A FRENCH COLONY; it was placed under the dual GUARDIANSHIPS of France and Great Britain by the SUN (Society of United Nations). Thus, Cameroon could lawfully sue France at the UN or La Hague for malicious power usurpation and abuse (like the Jews sued Germany for undue abuse and murders, and won…).

  15. Camfranglais Sweden

    If we want to get rid of France, all francophones should vote for an anglophone candidate in 2018, just like in 1992.

    • With all the hatred developed by our fellow brothers (sw/nw )terners in recent months i think it is the time for you to take your medicine if you skip the dose.

      • Camfranglais Sweden

        Not all anglophones and Francophones are haters. Friends of mine who are anglo, told me that they are against hatress, Federalism, Secession. What we want now is to find a longterm solution to the current problem and say NO NO NO to secession. I am francophone and I don’t see any problem to have an anglo president who can work hard for all cameroonians. This is the cause we stand for.

  16. Colby, yaaaa, the hatred is a figment of your imagination. Can you report a single francophone hurt because of his being “francophone”? We have instead been ( a distraction) fighting people like you, Pinguiss, Mbamois who think we are standing up to HIs Majesty King Paul Macbeth Mbia. I am no politician, so I wouldn’t even care to whom you vote. This country needs strong laws not strong men. Strong men have strangulated liberty and merit in this country. Paul Mbia is selective when it comes to which part of the constitution he must apply and this with your blessings. One moment you say the problems facing anglos are the same everywhere. Why not join us ? The trouble is you too, choose to take a by-comment made by someone in desperation and start harping on it as though thats the official stand of the fight. Thats where your hypocrisy is exposed. Why nott shun petty talk or side remarks from some angry people and join the mainstream fight that is well defined???

  17. @kitts i am not fighting anyone I have been advocating the common platform to oust all these corrupt thieves. Not of course with guns and so on. If your mind is fresh I always rise issues common to both communities to make people understand that we are facing the same discrimination that is why when someone raised and issue I will give him the equivalent in the other side reason why i normally use the word dishonest.Don’t forget this is a public website we should enlighten people not posting with feelings because many people use to visit this site even if they don’t react with comments.

    • Colby @ without sounding rude ,your comments of giving out chalk to students of the village reminds me of all the pithey offer of Marie Antionette saying’ let them eat cake ‘……im sure the four sisters of oil companies when pressed by the Saudi king to start paying for petrol at the right price did not dare to give that solution and niether will France be able to give out a couple of teeshirts and water pumps on this one .
      We are talking about 14 states having their decent treasuries correlated to do its duty of serving its citizens not Frances ,there are no excuses it has to be done ,all internal polatics have some impact on this fact but the short and long term solution is getting trade ,treasury ,civil and military independence from France .

  18. My observations on this topic.

    I guess the importance of this currency depends on the individual: for an entrepreneur, stability and convenience are important; whereas government planners value monetary independence.

    The Operations Account is a Exchange Risk Swap. In other words, it is the security required by the French to serve as guarantors of our foreign transactions. Whether or not these conditions are reasonable, is another matter altogether. Even if we did not use the French treasury, those reserves would have been stored elsewhere.So far our financial discipline has not been exemplary.

    It is not true that our hands are tied, as countries such as Guinea, Mali, Madagascar, and Mauritania have left the convention, without consequence. Also, Equatorial Guinea and Guinea Bissau abandoned their own currencies to join the convention, out of convenience.

    The Operations Account Convention, can always be renegotiated. But to have any real impact, all countries would have to agree as a bloc. Also, in order to gain any real leverage at the negotiating table, these member countries would have to improve their credit profile, as under the current circumstances, there would be very little confidence in any local currency.

    • Linbe kid@ with a phasing out of the rediculous high percentage terms of 85% over a 3 year period to around 30% instead and the rest reimbursed into other world market investments including 10 new exfranco regional african ones is fine ,feasable and normal ,this is a period of low interest rates and growth within many of our countries is there not in Europe as long as our end customers start paying reasonable prices for goods as in a free market not solely a franco / dutch/ swiss ones and at the same time bringing forth the last paragraph of Biragos comment to be processed sealed and delivered from the UN as the Jewish community sued germany .
      The French wont have much choice in the matter .

  19. Takeh Sendze Netherlands

    Pertinent questions were asked at the end of this article. Nothing will change if we Africans keep talking and take no action towards ending this reign of impunity. I kindly request anyone with a copy of this Colonial Pact to make it available to me @ takehsendze@yahoo.com. To challenge a legal text or to take any action opposing it, it is important to know all its terms.

    • Takeh Sendze @ first maybe look up the league of nations agreement where central and west africa are specifically mentioned …then go forward to see how that got manipulated .

  20. France loots Africa by looting the brains of its puppets, wo start handing over currencies, forests, resources. What’s there to rehash now!