This substantial volume sets out to establish the case for recognition of a new field of law. The editors propose a concept of African Union (AU) law – by analogy with the established body of European Union (EU) law – and argue for the need for such a concept in order to create “a platform to examine legal developments in Africa from an Afrocentric perspective”.
West African Economic and Monetary Union
In “Africa’s Last Colonial Currency: The CFA Franc Story,” Fanny Pigeaud and Ndongo Samba Sylla highlight the monetary side of French neo-colonialism in Africa, while emphasizing that “There is nothing more ‘political’ than money.” Sylla and Pigeaud provide an overview of the history of the CFA franc, its colonial origins, how it operates both technically and politically, and proposals for more democratic and development-oriented alternatives. They do so in a clear and accessible way that explains basic concepts like foreign exchange rate markets and regimes. This book both reflects and contributes to the growing opposition to the CFA franc. The CFA’s functioning is obscure even in France and the CFA zone member countries; therefore, this newly translated edition is valuable and timely. It helps expand the number of Africans that can meaningfully participate in these crucial debates about the future course of the continent’s development.
Marking the first African sovereign debt default in the year 2022, UMOA-Titres, the West African market for government securities announced that Mali reneged on its obligation to service treasury bonds that matured on January 2022 in the value of the 15.6 billion CFA francs ($26.6 million). This is only one of a number of treasury bonds default projected to be in the total sum of over $31 million.
The newfound freedom of speech vis-à-vis currency in the African franc zone, following the announcement on 21st December 2019 in Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire) of the imminent end of the CFA franc and its replacement by the Eco, brings to mind the “resurgence of repressed instincts” in psychoanalysis, in other words it is giving rise to every possible or imaginable excess, especially from the “25th hour” combatants, who are only now discovering that the CFA franc is not compatible with the emergence of French-speaking Africa.
On 21 December 2019, the French President Emmanuel Macron and the Ivoirian President Alassane Ouattara announced a “reform” of the monetary cooperation relations between France and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA). This reform comes with a transformation of the CFA Franc and takes place in the context of a single currency project of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The CFA Franc zone currently comprises of 14 sub-Saharan African countries belonging to two currency unions.  Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo are members of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), established in 1994 on the foundations of the West African Monetary Union, itself created in 1973. The other six countries - Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Chad - are members of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC). These two unions use the same currency, the CFA Franc, which stands for Communauté Financière Africaine (“African Financial Community”) in UEMOA and Coopération financière en Afrique centrale (“Financial Cooperation in Central Africa”) in CEMAC. Apart from Equatorial Guinea (Spanish) and Guinea Bissau (Portuguese), the other 12 countries have been French colonies (de facto or de jure). The CFA Franc is issued by the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO) (for West Africa) and the Bank of Central African States (BEAC) (for Central Africa). Each of these currencies is legal tender only within its own region, thus not directly interchangeable.
This blog post illustrates the role of national competition agencies (NCAs) in enforcing regional-level competition laws in Africa. Generally, the journey to regional integration starts with action at the national level. Then, as countries enter discussions and negotiations, treaties or agreements are signed containing articles that spell out common interests between States.
The WAEMU competition policy is, from the point of view of material and procedural law, in conformity with international standards, with certain specificities relating to the control of concentrations, the establishment of a special category of anti-competitive practices attributable to States and, above all, a centralized institutional approach with almost exclusive competence of the Community bodies. Then, eighteen (18) years (2003-2021) after the adoption of the implementing texts, WAEMU competition policy has therefore contributed to the consolidation of the Customs Union, the free movement of goods and liberalization in several sectors of activity (telecommunications, communication, energy, etc.). Moreover, it has become an essential tool for promoting regional economic integration in the Union.
Colonial powers reshaped the economies to extract resources for export to the metropole while creating an import dependency for consumables. This legacy transformed these economies and their indigenous institutions and power. Locals were brutalized and deprived of meaningful economic opportunities.
Fox and Bakhoum’s fairly broad analysis focusing on West, East, and Southern African countries brings to fore the real challenges at play in Africa. It is a fragmented, stratified yet at times vertically united legal and policy landscape. While they observe the need for convergence of competition law at the continental or regional level, they note the different states of developmental progress among sub-Saharan African countries hence concede the need for the fragmented approach
Fox and Bakhoum contextualize competition law by describing (in chapters 2 and 3) the structure and other key characteristic of markets in numerous African countries, including the economic and political history of those countries and their markets, as well as the legacies of colonization and decolonization – and by highlighting more broadly the economic challenges and needs of the people of Africa.