Bitcoin, The Currency of Decolonisation?

France still uses monetary colonialism to exploit 15 African nations. Could Bitcoin be a way out?

France, like other European powers, colonized many nations around the world in its imperial heyday, often brutally. After its occupation by Nazi Germany in World War II, the “Empire colonial français” began to disintegrate. The French fought to keep their colonies, inflicting a massive human toll in the process. Despite waging a costly series of global wars, Indochina was lost, then Syria and Lebanon, and, eventually, French territory in North Africa, including cherished oil and gas-rich settler colony Algeria. But France was determined not to lose its territories in West and Central Africa. These had provided military manpower during the two World Wars and offered a cornucopia of natural resources — including uranium, cocoa, timber and bauxite — which had enriched and sustained the metropole.

As 1960 approached, decolonization seemed inevitable. Europe was united in disengaging from Africa after decades of depredations and state-sponsored looting. But the French authorities realized they could have their cake, and eat it too, by ceding political control while retaining monetary control.

This legacy still stands today in 15 countries that speak French and use a currency controlled by Paris: Senegal, Mali, Ivory Coast, Guinea-Bissau, Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger, Cameroon, Chad, the Central African Republic, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, the Republic of Congo and the Comoros. In 2021 the French still exert monetary control over more than 2.5 million square kilometers of African territory, an area 80% the size of India.

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