African nations were carved along arbitrary borders by their colonial powers, who had little or no idea of the nature of the continent, not realising that Africa is actually a conglomeration of empires ruling within traditionally defined borders.
It is an undisputable fact that this partitioning was artificially created and mainly done to pave the ground for the scramble of the continent, with the selfish intention of ensuring that strong and unified Africa would not rise. One of such strategies, for instance, was to divide African countries into different language borders, making communication arduous amongst neighbouring African nations. An example of such is Ghana, an English speaking African country surrounded by all French speaking nations such as Cote d’ivoire, Burkina Faso and Togo. This was done in order for the colonial powers to have strong control over the various regions, without having to deal with strong opposition arising as a result of the unification of African countries.
Such borders were designed to split empires not just in twos but into threes and fours. Hence, rulers such as the Sultan of Sokoto in Nigeria, whose empire stretched far beyond the Nigerian borders into neighbouring countries, were unable to exercise their powers as kings of those regions. In return, nationals of such countries, who traditionally owe allegiance to the Sultan, were unable to do so due to the border restrictions of their neighbouring country. To heighten the situation, the language barrier of English/French has made it more difficult to do so. Another repercussion from this was seen in the manifestation of minorities and majorities, which has erupted in endless ethnic conflicts within the continent. It has also resulted in deadly border clashes in post-colonial Africa, thus tagging the continent as a bloody war zone. Examples for such are conflicts between Mali and Burkina Faso, Ethiopia and Eretria, Nigeria and Cameroon and Namibia and Angola.
Till date, Africa suffers from war, diseases and poverty, with a marginalised presence in the global economy. As many Western led initiatives in ‘aiding’ Africa to come out of her calamities have failed successively, African solutions for Africans are being sought to save the continent. One way (it might even be the only hope) of overcoming the obstacles facing the continent is to see Africa emerge again as one Nation, one Nation in which no restriction to movement and trade is applied. Considering the ethnic and religious divisions that are still troubling the continent, achieving this is an enormous task to be materialized in the near future. However, the journey could be started by applying a single African currency that would unify the continent’s economic endeavours.
The proposal of a single currency, the Afro (though many prefer it called the afriq) should be considered vital for Africa’s survival as the blessings are huge. It was in 2003 that the Association of African Central Bank Governors proposed the plan for the single currency to be materialized by 2021, preceded by prior creation of monetary unions in five existing regional economic communities namely Arab Monetary Union (AMU), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Southern African Development Community (SADC).
It must be noted that the idea of the single currency was initially proposed by the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who envisages a unified Africa with single currency, single military force and single passport. His proposal was turned down by other African countries (largely fuelled by Europe), who viewed Gaddafi with suspicion and rejected his proposal as ‘unpractical’. Although the idea to embark on such a concept was belittled by Europe, it remains sad that the same Europeans, who shushed the African idea, were working on their own single currency.
The idea of a single currency for Africa carries along with it its beatitudes. It presents a one voice of Africa- an Africa speaking with the voice of 900 million people, and thus presenting a greater force and a formidable line of defence. This protects the continent from external aggression. An example of such is the case of Zimbabwe. The imposition of sanctions would have had little or no effects on Zimbabwe as her shock would have been absorbed by other African nations. This would have been a major way of reducing inflation and preventing price distortions especially in countries with small currencies.
The single currency could create a good platform for improved intercontinental trade relationships by reducing the cost incurring from exchange rates of many currencies. Besides, stable monetary integration would attract investment from many angles. The single currency also would ensure stability in the continent. It is a non bloody way of preventing conflict- a way in which we can check the mismanagement by African leaders and a way in which the military can be tamed and called to order. Bigger countries such as Nigeria are largely characterised by previous military rulers. In reoccurrence of such cases, the single currency can be employed as a bloodless tool to enforce democracy in the continent. There exists no other African country capable of over running the massive countries such as Egypt, South Africa and Nigeria. The Afro, instilling greater discipline and governance when being centrally controlled, can become a strangling weapon to those who misbehave.
Having Africans trade in a single currency will beyond doubt increase thier chances on the international market. It makes it less possible for smaller economies to be taken advantage of. Over the years, Africa has been a source of easy natural resources. Her resources have been grossly depleted with little or no returns. Many critics who speculate that the single currency is deemed to fail substantiate their claim that African countries are too divers economically and politically and lack the basic infrastructure to achieve successful inter-trade. Being the largest source of natural resources that supply the world economy, it is ironical that Africa stays marginalized in the global economic spectrum. The single currency rather will help Africa to rally together against Africa’s number one enemy, which is the exploitation of its natural resource for much less that it deserves. Besides, if Africa has well meaning leaders, it will be able to tap from the vast human resources, expertise and technology the continent has to ensure basic developments.
It is distressing; many who claim to be African enthusiasts are against the adoption of a single currency that could be the dawn of a new beginning. If the Europeans knew it was not worth it, why did they venture into it in the first place? The euro was created to rival the large North American market, which was posing a menace for the numerous European currencies. Many feel the Afro is thinking too big pinpointing the lack of infrastructure and investment, but these argument forgets the fact that not all European countries had buoyant economies at the time the Euro was adopted. Some critics warn that stronger nations like South Africa and Nigeria would hurt their economies if they agree to accept single currency. The coming together of Africa under a single currency on the other hand makes it possible for stronger economies to look after the weaker ones thus rekindling the old time African tradition of oneness. Oneness in that we can all come together to share the little that we have. By working together, the bigger economies would benefit from the smaller economies and vice-versa.
With time, there is a possibility that through peace and stability, blessed with an abundance of natural recourses, the Afro might become the strongest currency in the world re-enacting those days when Africa ruled the world. This is the scare of the West as the poisons of the slave trade could transform into sweet juices as the Afro would also be employed in the Diaspora thus stretching Africa’s boundaries to the unthinkable.
The single currency shall unite the African continent both economically and politically. Creating the African Central Bank with this single currency should be the focus of all Africans and might be the only hope for a new prosperous Africa. Will it be easy? No. Is it achievable? Yes!