The Academy of Business Research Conferences hold throughout the year at select locations in the United States. They bring together faculty, scholars and practitioners in business from around the globe. The spring 2023 meeting held at the Renaissance Hotel in New Orleans. The conference gathered together about 100 researchers, more than 80 percent of which were faculties from US-based universities. Each session had a maximum of six papers and each speaker had about 15 minutes for presentation and another 5 minutes for Q & A.
The paper I co-presented with Prof. Maru Etta-Nkwelle (Howard University) was titled “The Dynamics of Politics Versus Economics: Case of the CFA Franc Zone”. Since 1948, the CFA (Communaute financiere d’Afrique) Franc zone has existed as the monetary arrangement between France on the one hand, and on the other hand, two regional African bodies: CEMAC (Central African Economic and Monetary Union) currently comprising six countries – Cameroon, Gabon, Central African Republic, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, and Chad; and WAEMU (West African Economic and Monetary Union) comprising eight countries – Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Togo, Mali, Niger, and Guinea-Bissau. The Comoros Island became the fifteenth member of the CFA Franc zone in 1981 but has since ran its own independent Comorian Franc. The CFA Franc currency board arrangement thus links three currencies to the Euro namely: the two CFA francs issued separately by the central banks of CEMAC (BEAC) and WAEMU (BCEAO), and the Comorian franc.
The thrust of the paper is that, whereas the operation of a traditional currency board necessitates strict respect of economic fundamentals, the CFA Franc Zone has largely survived thanks to the trump of politics over economics, and sadly, at a huge developmental costs to the millions of people, especially youths in those countries. Our findings reveal that the lone instance when economics trumped over politics was during the 1990s when empirical work helped frame the decision to devalue the CFA Franc in 1994 but throughout it’s nearly 80-year history, politics has trumped over economics in the CFA Zone, at the huge expense of development goals.
Our study proposes that to make economics trump over politics in the CFA Zone, the groups that are losing from the currency arrangement (the poor and urban entrepreneurs) have interest in forming a coalition to overthrow the elite group (that has largely benefited from the currency arrangement). But recognizing that the loser group lacks organizational capacity, the role of the international community would be critical in helping build the necessary critical mass of support needed to overthrow the elite vampire group.