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Portrayal of West African CFA Franc Reform in French and Ivorian News Coverage

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Title: Portrayal of West African CFA Franc Reform in French and Ivorian News Coverage
Author(s): Zogg, Fabienne
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Arts
Degree program: Master's Programme in Intercultural Encounters
Specialisation: Humanities Track
Language: English
Acceptance year: 2023
A polarised debate revolves around the West African CFA franc reform. Studies have indicated that the currency is widely considered a symbolic relic of colonial times, slowing down the economic growth in African countries. However, it has also been argued that the CFA franc has contributed to the economic stability of the former colonies in the continent. The growing anti-CFA franc movement in French-speaking West Africa reflects changing attitudes, especially among young people. The study aims to examine how this currency reform is portrayed in the news media in France and its former colony, Ivory Coast, by using frame analysis as a method. Ivory Coast is an example of a country that has demonstrated close political, economic, and cultural ties with France since its independence in 1960. A data-driven, qualitative frame analysis is an effective process to examine the connection between media and broader cultural and political approaches. The data, including 17 news articles published online in 2019–2020 and three news images, is gathered from a French newspaper called Le Monde and from an Ivorian newspaper by the name Fraternité Matin. Based on the analysis, the following four frames were found: dominance, symbolic change, uncertainty, and leadership. The study findings show the controversial and sensitive nature of the CFA franc due to its colonial heritage. In many news stories, the currency reform is mainly referred to as a symbolic change without concretely addressing the roots of the matter. In Ivorian news coverage, the active leading role of its president in promoting this reform is strongly emphasised, whereas Le Monde suggests that France wants to adopt a more passive role. The visual elements strengthen the perception of the close relationship between France and the Ivory Coast, as well as contribute to the anti-CFA franc discourse. The initiative of this currency reform shows signs of renewal regarding France’s relationship with its former colonies. However, its role as the guarantor of the monetary zone strengthens the idea of neo-colonial dominance.
Keyword(s): Francophone West Africa CFA franc reform Franco-African relations colonial heritage frame analysis

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