The West African CFA (Communaute Financiere Africaine or African Financial Community) franc is the monetary unit used in the independent states in West Africa. Initially, these countries were Cote d’Ivoire, Benin (Dahomey), Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, Togo, and Mauritania.  

Map of West African Franc Users | Source: Wikipedia

Introduction Of The CFA Franc

The currency was introduced to the French settlements in West Africa in 1945. Even after attaining their independence, the colonies are still using the West African CFA franc except for Mali which replaced the currency with its own franc. In 1984, Mali rejoined the monetary union and readopted the West African CFA franc. Mauritania, on the other hand, launched its own ouguiya currency in 1973. 

CFA 5,000 Francs | 1959 | P-5a | Source: Banknote World Educational

The Banque Centrale des Etats de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (Central Bank of the West African States) issues the currency in Dakar, Senegal, West African. CFA franc banknotes bear a letter on their obverse to identify the note’s issuing country, except for the first series which is from 1959. The CFA franc consists of 100 centimes, however, there are no centime denominations.  

Central Bank of the Western African States | Source: Wikipedia

Prior to the formation of the Central Bank of the Western African States, money production and issuance in the region was the responsibility of the Institut d’Emission de l’Afrique-Occidentale Francaise et du Togo which succeeded the Banque de l’Afrique Occidental.  

CFA 5,000 Francs | 2002 | P-613Hk | Source: Banknote World Educational

The first series of the CFA franc released by the Banque Centrale des Etats de l’Afrique Occidentale were in denominations of 5, 10, 25, 50, 100 and 1000 francs. In 1946, a 500-franc banknote joins the current series. In addition in 1948, the 5,000 franc banknote begins to circulate as well. 

Modern West Africa Franc Banknotes

West African States 500 Francs CFA | 2013 | P-119Ab | Source: Banknote World

Another banknote series begins to circulate between 2003 and 2019 in 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, and 10,000 franc denominations. These notes feature a sawfish figurine design symbolizing prosperity and fecundity on their obverse. Their reverse depicts birds, animals, or fish. Banknotes from this series have enhanced security features such as a vertical pearlescent stripe with a repeating denomination.  

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