The Politics of the CFA Franc Zone

This is from the Economist:

Where some see an anchor, others see a millstone. To maintain the euro peg, notes Ndongo Samba Sylla, a Senegalese economist, these very poor countries must track the hawkish monetary policy of the European Central Bank. Since the introduction of the euro, income per person in the franc zone has grown at 1.4% a year, compared with 2.5% in all of sub-Saharan Africa.

More on this here.

People like Cameroonian president Paul Biya love the CFA. With good reason.

Yet elites do rather well out of the system, which makes it easier to send wealth abroad. And a weaker currency would increase the cost of imported goods. The only devaluation, in 1994, sparked riots.

Why are African Presidents so Popular?

Gallup recently (April 25) released a new report showing approval ratings of African leaders. Many of them are inexplicably popular (a case of respondent preference falsification?). The polls were conducted in 2011.

Top of the list are the likes of Pierre Nkurunziza (Burundi) and Francois Bozize (CAF). Even the unapologetic, unreconstructed autocrats  Paul Biya (Cameroon) and Blaise Compraore (Burkina Faso) poll above 70%.

The whole report is here.

The least popular African leader is Eduardo dos Santos of Angola who polled at a dismal 16%. Angola is Sub-Saharan Africa’s second largest oil producer and China’s largest trade partner on the continent – China imports upwards of 43% of Angola’s oil. The likely denouement of the dos Santos succession is still unclear but one cannot rule out the possibility of turmoil when Angola gets to cross that bridge, especially in light of the fact that Angola’s appear to blame both dos Santos and the country’s leadership.

quick hits

Ugandan walk to work protests continue, despite the arrest of key opposition leaders.

Mutiny spreads in Burkina Faso. Compraore has been in power since 1987 after he ousted Thomas Sankara.

Benin’s Yayi Boni might have stole his way into a second term. I hope he is not planning on extending the presidential term limit in Benin.

burkinabe strongman in trouble

The BBC reports that:

Soldiers in Burkina Faso’s capital have mutinied, with gunfire resounding throughout Ouagadougou overnight. The protests began when members of the presidential guard started shooting into the air in protest at unpaid housing allowances.

President Blaise Compaore is due to meet a UN envoy in the city later, officials say, after he fled overnight. Mr Compaore, in power since 1987, had sought to calm soldiers earlier this month after similar complaints.

… the house of the president’s personal chief of staff had been burned down, some buildings and shops bombarded, including a pro-government radio station. The mutiny has come a surprise to many residents as the president had recently held a reconciliation meeting with the security forces, listening to their demands, Mr Thiombiano said.

Mr. Compraore has been in power since 1987. It is not yet clear how determined the mutineers are or if senior officers are behind the open rebellion against the Burkinabe president. More on this soon.