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Wednesday, 5 September, 2001, 19:39 GMT 20:39 UK
Euro printing hits Africa
Boxes of Euro notes
Lots of euros but not enough CFA Francs
Preparations for Europe's new currency, the Euro, are making life difficult for people across West Africa.

Residents of both Dakar and Bamako are having trouble getting hold of small denomination banknotes because local banks say they do not have any in stock.

The Bank of France is giving priority to printing the Euro at the expense of our requests (for small denomination notes)

Seyni Ndiaye
Countries from Senegal to Cameroon already have their own single currency - the CFA franc - which is supported by the French treasury.

But an official from the West African Central Bank, BCEAO, says the French Bank is too busy printing new euros to supply the scarce African notes.

Senegalese newspaper Sud Quotidien quotes a Mr Ndao as saying it is impossible to get change to buy a bus ticket.

Crisp new notes

"I asked the cashier to give me CFA F25,000 in small denominations but she said she didn't have any. Isn't that incredible coming from a bank?" he asked.

The BBC's Said Penda in Mali's capital Bamako says that commercial banks there have also run out of new F500 (67 US cents) and 1,000 notes.

Euro notes
France is concentrating on euros not African Francs

In a strange twist, he says that people who wish to impress by distributing crisp new notes to praise-singers at weddings and naming ceremonies pay a premium.

"To change F5,000 into small denominations, people pay an extra F1,000 on the black market," he said.


The BCEAO Senegal director told Sud Quotidien that the shortages were being caused by Europe's new currency, due to be introduced on 1 January 2002.

"The Bank of France is giving priority to printing the Euro at the expense of our requests (for small denomination notes)," said Seyni Ndiaye.

Trader women in Mali
Mali's traders are having trouble finding change

BCEAO supplies commercial banks with their currency.

Despite the creation of the Euro, the French treasury has retained its link with the mostly former French colonies in the CFA zone. The exchange rate is fixed at FFr1=CFA F100.

Mr Ndiaye also pointed out that the shortage of low value notes was being especially felt in Senegal because of the importance of small-scale trade in the poverty-stricken economy.

Street corners across the country are characterised by women selling small piles of tomatoes or men selling individual cigarettes or sweets.

See also:

23 Dec 98 | French in Africa
France - superpower or sugar daddy?
02 Apr 00 | Africa
New era for Senegal
18 Sep 00 | Africa
Shortage drives Senegal nuts
23 May 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Senegal
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