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All about this Economic and Monetary Community

The current coins of the Central Afrcian States are those issued by the Bank of Central African States (Banque des Etats de l'Afrique Centrale (BEAC)) and circulated in the member countries of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC). The BEAC is the bank of this monetary union. The members are Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of the Congo, Gabon and since 1st January 1985 Equatorial Guinea. These six nations have all at some time had their own coins but for a number of years now, the only coins issued in these countries for circulation have been those of the Central African States. Member countries of CEMAC only ever use coins that are denominated in CFA Francs, the CFA Franc Central to be more precise. The CFA Franc Central and the CFA Franc West (the Franc of the denomination of the West African States’ coins) are both backed by the French Treasury and fixed to the French Franc at a rate of 100 CFA Francs = 1 French Franc, with therefore, a fixed rate 665.957 CFA Francs to 1 Euro. The CFA Franc Central and the CFA Franc West are equal in value to the French Franc but, the coins and papermoney of these two varieties of the CFA Franc are only legal tender in their respective regions.

CFA Franc is from “Franc de la Communauté Financière d'Afrique” in French, which translates into English as “Franc of the African Financial Community”. It has its roots in the Franc as used in the French colonies in Africa and gained its own identity in
December 1945, when CFA Franc meant “Franc des Colonies Françaises d'Afrique” ( or “Franc of the French Colonies of Africa”). The intial parity of the CFA Franc to the French French was 1 CFA Franc to 1.70 French Francs, the devaluation of the French Franc saw this change to 1 CFA Franc to 2.00 French Francs in 1948. In 1958, with the coming of the Fifth Republic in France and the creation of the French Community, the CFA Franc became the “Franc de la Communauté Française d'Afrique” (or “Franc of the French Community of Africa”). Also around this time came the re-valuation of the French Franc (100 old French Francs = 1 new French Franc) , so the parity then became 1 CFA Franc = 0.02 French Francs. The next change to this parity was actioned on the 12th January 1994, when the CFA Franc was devalued and became equal to 0.01 French Francs i.e. the 100 CFA Franc per French Franc that still stands to this day. All circulation coins using CFA Francs are produced by the Paris mint and the privy marks of the Paris mint can be found on them.

During this lifetime of the CFA Franc, the Central Africa Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) has slowly developed into the important organisation it is today. In 1910 the four French colonies of Middle Congo, Chad, Ubangi-Shari and Gabon were grouped together to form French Equatorial Africa. This grouping became the Equatorial African States in 1958, with members all republics within the French Community, all members attained full independence from France in 1960 and were now called Congo, Chad, Central African Republic and Gabon. The “phased” joining of Cameroon to this group of nations culminated, in discussion in 1972/73, where these five nations brought about the Bank of Central African States (BEAC) the bank of the newly formed alliance called the Central Africa Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC). The Central African States came into being in 1974. This is the situation as it remains to this day except of course for Equatorial Guinea having become the sixth member of CEMAC in 1985.

A few things about the Central African States coins.....

The 100 Franc coins issued by the member states of CEMAC in 1975 were the first to include the full French title “Banque des Etats de l'Afrique Centrale”. The previous 100 Franc coins for four of these five nations were dated 1972 and therefore without this title, however the 1974 dated 100 Franc coins of the Central African Republic were still without this title of the BEAC even though name change was made at around this time. The 1974 date is the scarcest of the C.A.R. 100 Franc coins (going by catalogue values).

Central African States 50 Francs 1976E
The Central African States 50 Francs.

Code letters as seen on 50 Franc coins of Central African States
Close-ups of the letters "A", "B", "C", "D" and "E" as they appear on the 50 Francs coins.

The 50 Franc coins 1976 to 1991 and 500 Francs coins 1976 to 1984 each have a country code letter on them. This code was... A - Chad, B - Central African Republic, C - Congo, D - Gabon, E - Cameroon. The code letter represented the country that the coins were first issued to for circulation. There were no pieces of this type marked as being initally for Equatorial Guinea, that country had a full series of coins with its full name shown soon after it joined the Central African States.

Central African States 500 Francs 1977A
The Central African States 500 Francs.

Code letters as seen on 500 Franc coins of Central African States
Close-ups of the letters "A", "B", "C", "D" and "E" as they appear on the 500 Francs coins.

The coding of these particular Central African States coins was all in the hope that movements of coins around these different states could be monitored. The first Nickel coins after 1991 (the last year of any coding) were issued in 1996 and were of denominations 50 Francs and 100 Francs (a new denomination). The studying of coin movements had assumably become impratical or of little use. (Source SCWC - Krause Publications). A further date, 1998, of the 100 Franc coin is also known.

Central African States 500 Francs 1998
The Central African States 500 Francs of 1998 - a new type. (Image from Wang Wei)

In August 2001 a 1998 dated 500 Francs coin appeared in the eBay auctions of a seller based in the P.R. China. This new type is in the style of the 500 Francs types issued in the names of Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo (Peoples’ Republic) and Gabon. The new type differs to the 5 types from around 1985 in that “BANQUE DU ETATS D’AFRIQUE CENTRALE” appear on the obverse where the other types had “REPUBLIQUE DU CAMEROUN    REPUBLIC OF CAMEROON”, “REPUBLIC CENTRAFRICAINE”, “REPUBLIQUE DU TCHAD”, “REPUBLIC POPULAIRE DU CONGO” and “REBUPLIQUE GABONAISE” respectively. These coins are still no more widely available outside Africa than they were around October 2001..

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A few corrections/changes made, one correction was to codes for "C" and "D" - at February 2004.
An article of mine closely based on my words as above was published (with the corrections/changes) in the February 2004 edition of the Numismatics International Bulletin (pages 41-42 (to be confirmed), pages numbered through the year).