Imperative for a common currency backed by gold...a path to African emancipation from neo-colonialism

The Ashanti Empire in West Africa has a rich history of mining and trading gold.

AFRICA’S history is deeply intertwined with the complex legacy of colonisation, and the continent has been striving for self-determination and economic independence since gaining political sovereignty.

One significant challenge that African nations face today is neo-colonialism, a phenomenon where foreign powers maintain economic and political control over African states, often indirectly.

To overcome this challenge, one compelling proposal is the creation of a common African currency backed by gold. This article delves into the need for Africans to embrace such a currency as a powerful tool for emancipation from neo-colonialism.

The persistence of neo-colonialism

To comprehend the necessity of a common African currency backed by gold, one must first acknowledge the persistence of neo-colonialism in the continent.

Neo-colonialism is characterised by the continued dominance of former colonial powers and other foreign entities over African nations’ political, economic and social spheres. This phenomenon perpetuates a cycle of dependency and exploitation that hinders the continent’s progress.

The legacy of colonialism left African nations with political and economic structures heavily influenced by their former colonial masters.

Economic systems were often designed to extract natural resources and channel them to the colonisers, rather than fostering self-sufficiency.

Additionally, political structures and borders were arbitrarily drawn, often disregarding the cultural, ethnic, and tribal divisions of the African population. These inherited systems have perpetuated inequality, division, and economic imbalances that continue to benefit external powers.

Potential of a common currency

A common African currency can be a potent instrument to counteract neo-colonialism by unifying African nations, promoting economic self-sufficiency and reducing external manipulation.

The choice to back this currency with gold carries significant advantages and can help enhance its credibility and resilience.

Unification of African Nations: A common currency can promote unity among African nations. It would facilitate trade, investment, and cooperation among African countries.

A unified currency could help diminish economic barriers and make it easier for nations to work together toward shared goals. The European Union's adoption of the euro provides an illustrative example of how a common currency can promote integration among diverse nations.

Economic self-sufficiency: A common currency would incentivise African nations to invest in regional industries, infrastructure, and education. By conducting business in a shared currency, they can reduce transaction costs and foster an internal market that is more resilient to external economic pressures. Moreover, the use of a common currency would encourage a shift away from relying solely on raw material exports, moving towards manufacturing and technology-based industries.

Reducing external manipulation: A gold-backed currency can provide a strong defence against external manipulation. Gold has intrinsic value and is relatively resistant to inflation, making it a stable store of wealth.

A currency backed by gold would be less susceptible to speculative attacks and currency devaluation, reducing external powers' capacity to manipulate African economies for their own gain.

Challenges and considerations

While the idea of a common African currency backed by gold holds promise, there are several challenges and considerations to be addressed:

Economic disparities: African countries vary greatly in terms of economic development, which can pose difficulties when determining exchange rates and the currency’s valuation. A mechanism for mitigating these disparities must be established to ensure that the currency serves all member states effectively.

Political and cultural diversity: Africa is culturally and politically diverse, with numerous languages, religions, and traditions. Implementing a common currency would require a degree of political integration that might be difficult to achieve. Addressing these cultural and political differences is essential for the successful introduction of a common currency.

Safeguarding gold reserves: The gold backing the currency must be protected against theft, corruption, or misuse. Establishing mechanisms to ensure the responsible management of gold reserves is critical to maintain the currency’s integrity.

Monetary policy and regulation: Decisions about the currency’s issuance, monetary policy, and regulation must be made in a way that benefits all member states and prevents one country from dominating the others. This requires a careful balance of power among member nations.

The historical context

To appreciate the viability of a gold-backed currency for African emancipation, it is essential to consider the historical context.

Historically, gold has held immense significance in Africa. Many African regions, such as the Ashanti Empire in West Africa, have a rich history of mining and trading gold. It was the allure of African gold that played a significant role in attracting European colonisers to the continent.

Revisiting Africa’s gold-rich history can serve as a reminder of the continent's economic potential and the importance of harnessing it for its own development.

A gold-backed currency can act as a symbolic reclamation of Africa’s economic heritage, asserting its economic sovereignty.

The African experience with currency unification: The African continent has previously explored the concept of a common currency. The African Monetary Union (AMU), a proposed common currency for the African Union, has been in development for years.

However, the AMU faces various challenges, including the harmonisation of economic policies, political coordination, and ensuring that all African nations benefit equitably.

The advantage of a gold-backed currency is that it can help alleviate some of these challenges. Gold provides a neutral and universally accepted standard for currency valuation, which reduces the risk of imbalances or the dominance of a single nation. By anchoring the currency in a tangible, valuable resource, it can provide stability and trust among member states.

Role of the African Union

The African Union (AU) is a pivotal institution that could facilitate the establishment of a common African currency. The AU has the capacity to coordinate and guide member states toward economic and political integration, which is a fundamental prerequisite for a common currency's success.

African nations must work collectively through the AU to overcome the hurdles of economic disparities, political diversity, and regulatory challenges. Furthermore, the AU can engage with international partners, such as the United Nations and regional organisations, to gain support and expertise in this endeavour.

Benefits of economic independence

The need for Africans to create a common currency backed by gold is ultimately rooted in the pursuit of economic independence. Economic independence is a key component of political sovereignty, as it empowers nations to make decisions in their own interest without external interference.

Greater control over resources: A common currency can help African nations take control of their resources, ensuring that they benefit their own populations.

African countries possess vast natural resources, from oil to minerals, which have historically been exploited by foreign powers. With economic independence, they can leverage these resources for their own development.

Reduced vulnerability to economic crises:  A gold-backed currency can help African nations reduce their vulnerability to external economic crises. Gold’s intrinsic value makes it a stable asset, providing a buffer against currency devaluation and financial instability. This stability can help protect the continent's economies from global economic fluctuations.

Investment in infrastructure and education: Economic independence offers the opportunity to invest in critical areas such as infrastructure, healthcare, and education. By using a common currency to promote intra-African trade and cooperation, nations can redirect their wealth towards sustainable development.

Empowerment of future generations: The benefits of economic independence extend to future generations. By building self-sufficient economies and fostering innovation and education, Africa can offer better prospects to its youth, breaking the cycle of poverty and dependency.


The need for Africans to create a common currency backed by gold is a compelling solution to the persistent challenge of neo-colonialism. This currency can provide unity, economic self-sufficiency and reduced external manipulation, paving the way for Africa’s emancipation.

However, it is imperative to address economic disparities, cultural diversity, safeguarding gold reserves, and the need for careful monetary policy and regulation.

The historical context and Africa’s experience with currency unification underscore the feasibility of such an endeavour. The AU, as a coordinating body, has a pivotal role to play in guiding this transformative process.

Ultimately, the pursuit of economic independence offers a brighter future for Africa and its people, as it empowers the continent to take control of its destiny and overcome the legacy of neo-colonialism.

  • Mavengere is a pharmacist and a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine. He is currently a lecturer in School of Pharmacy at the University of Western Australia.

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