The Central African CFA franc (French: franc CFA or simply franc, ISO 4217 code: XAF) is the currency of six independent states in Central Africa: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. These six countries have a combined population of 48.0 million people (as of 2014), and a combined GDP of US$88.2 billion (as of 2012).
CFA stands for Coopération financière en Afrique centrale ("Financial Cooperation in Central Africa"). It is issued by the BEAC (Banque des États de l'Afrique Centrale, "Bank of the Central African States"), located in Yaoundé, Cameroon, for the members of the CEMAC (Communauté Économique et Monétaire de l'Afrique Centrale, "Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa"). The franc is nominally subdivided into 100 centimes but no centime denominations have been issued.
In several west African states, the West African CFA franc, which is of equal value to the Central African CFA franc, is in circulation.
The CFA franc was introduced to the French colonies in Equatorial Africa in 1945, replacing the French Equatorial African franc. The Equatorial African colonies and territories using the CFA franc were Chad, French Cameroun, French Congo, Gabon and Ubangi-Shari.
The currency continued in use when these colonies gained their independence. Equatorial Guinea, the only former Spanish colony in the zone, adopted the CFA franc in 1984, replacing the Equatorial Guinean ekwele at a rate of 1 franc = 4 bipkwele.
In 1948, coins were issued for use in all the colonies (not including French Cameroun) in denominations of 1 and 2 francs. This was the last issue of a 2-franc coin for nearly 50 years. In 1958, 5-, 10- and 25-franc coins were added, which were also used in French Cameroun. These bore the name Cameroun in addition to États de l'Afrique Equatoriale. In 1961, nickel 50-franc coins were introduced, followed by nickel 100-franc pieces in 1966.
From 1971, the 100-franc coins were issued by the individual states. In 1976, cupro-nickel 500-franc coins were introduced. From 1985, these were also issued by the individual states. That year also saw the introduction of 5-, 25-, 50- and 100-franc coins for use in Equatorial Guinea.
In 1996, centralized production of the 100-franc coin was resumed, with a single 500-franc coin reintroduced in 1998. In 2006, a steel 2-franc coin was introduced.
When the CFA franc was introduced, notes issued by the Caisse Centrale de la France d'Outre-Mer ("Central Cashier of Overseas France") in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 100 and 1000 francs were in circulation. In 1947, a new series of notes was introduced for use in French Equatorial Africa, although the notes did not bear the name of the colonies. Notes were issued in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 1000 francs, followed by those of 500 francs in 1949, and 5000 francs in 1952. In 1957, the Institut d'Emission de l'Afrique Equatoriale Française et du Cameroun took over paper money production, issuing all of the earlier denominations except for the 5000-franc bill.
In 1961, the Banque Centrale des Etats de l'Afrique Equatoriale et du Cameroun took over banknote production, with notes below 100 francs ceasing to be issued. The name of the bank changed to Banque Centrale des Etats de l'Afrique Equatoriale in 1963. 10,000-franc notes were introduced in 1968, whilst the 100-franc notes were replaced by coins in 1971.