In a stunning declaration last month, Burkina Faso, alongside Mali and Niger, sent shockwaves through the West African political landscape by announcing their departure from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Now, Burkina Faso’s ruler, Ibrahim Traore, is setting his sights on another pivotal target: the region’s longstanding currency, the CFA franc.
Traore’s bold stance marks a significant turning point in the region’s economic and political dynamics. The decision to withdraw from ECOWAS, an alliance established to foster economic integration and cooperation among West African nations, reflects growing discontent with the organization’s effectiveness and relevance. While ECOWAS has made strides in promoting regional stability and development, critics argue that it has failed to address key issues such as economic inequality and security challenges.
The move to abandon ECOWAS is not without its risks. The union has served as a platform for collective action on regional issues, including trade negotiations and conflict resolution. Burkina Faso’s departure could potentially weaken the organization’s influence and diminish its ability to tackle pressing challenges facing the region.
However, Traore appears undeterred, viewing the withdrawal as a necessary step towards asserting Burkina Faso’s sovereignty and pursuing its own economic agenda. Central to this agenda is the rejection of the CFA franc, a currency tied to the French treasury that has long been criticized for perpetuating economic dependency and hindering monetary autonomy in West African countries.
The CFA franc, introduced during the colonial era, has been a source of contention for decades. Critics argue that its peg to the euro and strict monetary policies imposed by the French government undermine the economic prospects of member states. Calls for reform or outright abandonment of the currency have intensified in recent years, fueled by growing demands for economic self-determination and regional integration.