Filed Under (General) by Rob on 13-12-2010

There is one common currency in Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, Benin, Togo, Guinea Bissau, Senegal, Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Niger, which is called the West African CFA Franc. (Click here to see a nice map of those countries).

Now, when we first came out to Benin in 2004, you could get 1000cfa for one British pound, which was a decent exchange rate for us. By 2006, the rate was around 950 francs to the pound – still okay. At the start of 2007, it was back up to 995, before a two-year descent, ending in a spectacular crash at the end of 2008, when the exchange rate sunk to a stunningly-low 670cfa to the pound; 33% less than when we first arrived.

Click here to see the original graph on

This year, though, has thankfully been better than the last, with the value reaching as high as 810cfa to the £ in late June (see chart here).

The US dollar to cfa story is similar, though the slump ocurred earlier, in mid-2008 and there have been a couple of nice ‘spikes’ since then, almost back to the ‘usual’ rate of around 550cfa to the $. Have a look at the chart here.

It’s not all bad news, of course – this means it’s cheaper for Africans to buy things in Europe/the USA (one reason why we bought our car in England), but also means that purchasing African goods from these countries will cost westerners more. I’m hoping the exchange rate picks up a bit more in 2011, though.

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