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EDITIONS
Sunday, 30 December, 2001, 15:53 GMT
Africa gears up for euro launch
EU and Africa
For many Europeans, it may come as a surprise to hear that the impact of the euro will be massive, not just for themselves but for the people of Africa as well.

The franczone:
France
Benin
Central African Republic
Burkina Faso
Cameroon
Chad
Congo
Gabon
Equatorial Guinea
Ivory Coast
Guinea-Bissau
Mali
Niger
Senegal
Togo
Comoros Islands
In fact, some African countries insist that they have already joined the eurozone in all but name, even though, officially, the zone consists of just the 12 countries which will adopt the euro as their main currency.

"Although we are not part of the European Union, we have been considered during the whole process as a partner country," said an official at the Moroccan state bank, Bank al-Maghrib.

Morocco was the first African country to receive euro notes and coins in December, but it is not the only one showing a great deal of interest in the new currency.

"Using the euro as a medium of exchange with Europe would facilitate the promoting of the already existing trade, economic, tourism and cultural relations between Ethiopia and European countries," said a central bank official from Ethiopia, insisting that it will be able to carry out transactions using the euro in January.

Former colonies

Many African nations will see their currencies tied firmly to the euro following its introduction on 1 January 2002.

The Bank of France has said it will maintain monetary agreements between France, a eurozone member, and the 15 countries in the Comptoir Francais d'Afrique franczone, consisting mainly of former French colonies in Africa.

Currently, 100 CFA francs are worth one French franc.

Once France adopts the euro, the CFA franc will be trading at 655.957 to one euro.

Changing the exchange rate would require the member states to notify the European Union, though "eventual modifications to the parity between the euro and CFA francs... remains the sole responsibility of the member states of the CFA franczone," the Bank of France said.

The franczone includes France, Benin, the Central African Republic, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo, as well as the Comoros Islands.

The Comoros islanders use the Comoron franc which will be pegged to the euro at a rate of 491.96775 to one.


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