Cairo-to-Cape Town Free Trade Zone: How free is Africa’s trade?

What is truly free in a 'free trade zone', if some African countries are still trading in foreign currencies we have no control over?

InformAfrica.com — The Cairo-to-Cape Town Free Trade Zone is been touted by a couple of leading Western media, as a bigger free trade area, by population, than the European Union or NAFTA. But, what is truly free in a ‘free trade agreement’, if Africans are still trading in foreign currencies we have no control over? The free trade zone deal is said to cover 58% of Africa’s economic activity and over $1 trillion (£651.1 billion) in GDP. But there’s a bigger problem not been addressed.

It is no secret that some of the member countries of the Cairo-to-Cape Town Free Trade Zone, do not have a national currency of their own, but rather trading in the foreign currencies of their colonial masters. What does it look like trading in any foreign currency we don’t control? Economic slavery that’s what it is.

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Cairo-to-Cape Town Free Trade Zone
Cairo-to-Cape Town Free Trade Zone members. EAC, COMESA, SADC and the AU.

While this news is portrayed in the media as a good move to foster Africa’s economic trade; of what real benefit is it — if member countries of the Cairo-to-Cape Town Free Trade Zone are trading in foreign currency of their colonial masters?

How free is the economy and the markets of these member countries? Take for instance, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a member country of the Cairo-to-Cape Town Free Trade Zone does not have its own currency, and is rather trading in CFA franc (Congolese). Note that, whoever controls a country’s currency – controls the economy.

The French have been acquiring and holding the national reserves of 14 African countries since 1961.

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In an interview with London-based New African Magazine back in 2011, the former president of the Ivorian National Assembly, former Finance Minister and economist, Professor Mamadou Koulibaly; labeled the French-led CFA franc arrangement as ‘financially repressive, unfair and morally indefensible’.

Professor Koulibaly also explained that, ‘the foreign reserves of the CFA African states are deposited in the French Treasury, but no African country is capable of telling you exactly how much of this hard-earned foreign reserves belong to them. Only France has the privilege to that information’.

Professor Koulibaly lamented that francophone Africans have been reduced to ‘taxpayers for France [remember the 65% of hard currencies that the 14 CFA zone states are obliged to deposit yearly in the French Treasury]…Yet our people neither have French nationality nor access to the public goods and services made available to other French taxpayers’.

In the same New African report, Senegalese President Wade was clear and direct when he made this statement: ‘Central bank reserves of member states must be returned to member states in one way or another. I insist on this, and particularly because we have been raising this issue for a long time’. President Wade ‘deplored the fact that close to 1,500 billion CFA francs generated from the surplus of West African states’ foreign reserves are placed on the foreign stock markets and out of the reach of the Africans who own the money.’

The CFA franc and its archaic arrangement with the French Treasury in Paris is indeed a slave deal. And this is how the slave deal works as elaborated by the London-based Professor Dr Gary Busch:

The French Treasury is holding billions of dollars owned by the African states of the francophone nations of West and Central Africa in its own accounts and invested in the French Bourse or Stock Exchange. The Africans deposit the equivalent of 85% of their annual reserves in these accounts as a matter of post-colonial agreements and have never been given an accounting for how much the French are holding on their behalf, in what have these funds been invested, and what profit or loss there have been.

The French have been acquiring and holding the national reserves of 14 countries since 1961. Even allowing for losses and expenditures in keeping the CFA franc viable, the French are holding about at least 400 billion dollars of African money, wholly unaccountably to the money’s putative owners, the African states. Even Bernie Madoff couldn’t have constructed a Ponzi scheme that large without being exposed.

This ‘bargain’ was made between the African former colonies and the French as part of the Pacte Coloniale which accompanied their independence and controlled through a single currency, the CFA franc. This was largely the work Jacques Foccart, the chief adviser for the government of France on African policy as well as the co-founder of the Gaullist Service d’Action Civique (SAC) in 1959 with Charles Pasqua, which specialized in covert operations in Africa.

Below is what the free trade zone area looks like, in diagram:

EAC-COMESA-SADC-Free-Trade-Area
The South African Development Community (SADC) in yellow, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) in different shades of green and the East African Community (EAC) in the light brown (the only country in the EAC that isn’t also a member of COMESA is Tanzania).

With that said, of what real benefit is a Cairo-to-Cape Town Free Trade Zone, if some of the member countries are dependently trading in foreign currency, with no national currency of theirs?

A comment made by a Pan-African brother from Nigeria on this topic, challenges the status quo of the Cairo-to-Cape Town Free Trade:

“How free is the economy or are the markets of these member countries? Who owns their banks from and to where this money comes and goes? Lets first have a Central Bank of Africa (CBA) and possibly a strong African currency. What will it look like trading in any of the foreign currency which we don’t control? What are the implications in case the West chooses to teach us economy lesson like they have done to many who had some distaste for their music. If purchasing power is not controlled by us but determined by those you want to exclude you will only form an easy inlet for yourself to be caught in with no difficulty. If really they have no hand in this we are going to see a lot of government changes and elections manipulations to bring their puppets back in power. I do hope we do our homework properly before we make moves.” -Eshiomhele, Nigeria.

So, what do you think?

NOTE: Pls do not copy and duplicate this InformAfrica article (in its entirety) on your blog or website.

Reference(s):

How France Financially Enslave 14 African Countries —AfricanGlobe

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