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States and Power in AfricaComparative Lessons in Authority and Control$
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Jeffrey Herbst

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780691164137

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691164137.001.0001

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The Coin of the African Realm

The Coin of the African Realm

Chapter:
(p.201) Seven The Coin of the African Realm
Source:
States and Power in Africa
Author(s):

Jeffrey Herbst

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691164137.003.0007

This chapter examines the politics of the currency in West Africa from the beginning of the twentieth century. A public series of debates over the nature of the currency occurred in West Africa during both the colonial and independence periods. Since 1983, West African countries have been pioneers in Africa in developing new strategies to combat overvaluation of the currency and reduce the control of government over the currency supply. The chapter charts the evolution of West African currencies as boundaries and explores their relationship to state consolidation. It shows that leaders in African capitals managed to make the units they ruled increasingly distinct from the international and regional economies, but the greater salience of the currency did not end up promoting state consolidation. Rather, winning the ability to determine the value of the currency led to a series of disastrous decisions that severely weakened the states themselves.

Keywords:   politics, currency, West Africa, boundaries, state consolidation

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