The currency used in Cameroon is called the Central African CFA franc. It is a currency that is used in five other African countries: Gabon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of the Congo, and Equatorial Guinea.
But why do all these countries use the same currency? And how has Cameroon's history, and its influence as the largest economy in the region, impacted the currency over the years?
Whether you want to send money to or plan to visit Cameroon it helps to know a bit about the CFA franc and how it has changed over the years. It is a complex currency which is tied to the history of Cameroon's relationship with France. In this blog you’ll learn about the history of the currency, exchange rates with major currencies and the state of the currency today.
What is the currency of Cameroon?
Let’s start with the basics. The currency of Cameroon is the Central African CFA franc. If you’ve spent time in Cameroon or any neighboring countries you’ll be familiar with the CFA franc. The “CFA” part of the name stands for Coopération financière en Afrique centrale (“Financial Cooperation in Central Africa”).
The Central African CFA franc has been important in helping to restore economic stability to the region. It has helped to build the economy and become a recognizable symbol throughout the continent.
How is the Central African CFA Franc recognized?
The Central African CFA Franc is internationally recognized by the code XAF (while the West African CFA is recognized by the code XOF). And it can often be seen alongside other recognizable currency codes like USD, GBP, EUR or NGN.
The XAF is currently circulating in banknote denominations of 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000 and 10,000 francs. The currency is issued by the Bank of Central Africa States which is located in Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon. Countries that belong to the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa use XAF.
What is the history of the Central African CFA Franc?
You may already have some knowledge of the history of the region. During the twentieth century there were major developments in the region which saw currencies all over Central Africa change several times. But we're just going to focus on Cameroon and the CFA franc today.
The CFA franc emerged from the currency used by France when they ruled over parts of West and Central Africa. Before 1945 the currency that had been used for some time in the region was called the French Equatorial African franc. Then the currency was changed to the Central African franc that is in use today. The currency was pegged to the French franc and it is now pegged to the euro.
When the countries in the region, including Cameroon, gained independence they decided to keep the CFA franc as their currency. At the time it was seen as the best way to maintain a stable and globally recognized currency. And today the fact that it is linked to a stable currency, like the euro, helps to keep it from fluctuating wildly.
The CFA franc today
The CFA franc is used across several countries. So, unlike other countries the banknotes do not depict national heroes. Instead, on both sides of the franc notes you will be able to see common Central African scenes and animals. For example on the current 500 franc note an Antelope is featured on the reverse side. On the 1000 franc note you can see a coffee harvest and a raft. This neutral theme is continued on the other notes, with the 2000 franc note depicting a harbor scene or a mining scene and the 10,000 franc note showing a fishery. The notes are printed in an array of colors: blue for 1000, green for 5000, purple for 10,000 etc.
Today the CFA franc is relatively stable but Cameroon, along with other Central African nations, are hoping to take more control of their currency in the near future.
To learn a bit more about Cameroon’s currency it is worth looking at a few exchange rates. Although exchange rates are changing all the time, the yearly average exchange rate during the last few years gives an indication of how far your CFA franc will go.
First, let’s compare the CFA franc to another major African currency - the Nigerian Naira. During 2020 the average exchange rate of the Central African CFA franc to the Nigerian Naira was 1 XAF to 0.66 NGN.
And in 2021, the exchange rate between the two has changed slightly, with 1 XAF being worth 0.72 NGN. These are two of the most important currencies on the continent and their success is based on stability and sustained economic growth.
Now we can turn to the US dollar. During 2020, the average rate between the US dollar and the CFA franc was 1 USD to 575.2 XAF. And in 2021, the exchange rate has changed so that 1 USD will get you on average 543.9 XAF. These numbers show how the currency of Cameroon is developing and how it compares to the major currencies around the world. Exchange rates can be confusing but it helps to understand a little about them if you are thinking of sending money overseas.
Use Small World to Send Money
When you need to send money to Cameroon there can be a lot of questions. When will it get there? Will it get there safely? How can I get proof that I’ve sent money overseas? Who do I talk to if it goes wrong? How do I navigate exchange rates? You may have many more questions but here at Small World we’ve got you covered.
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