BCEAO (Central Bank of West African States-CBWAS).

Multinational Central Bank of the West African Monetary Union (UMOA). Its origins date back to the Institut d'Emission de l'Afrique Occidentale Française et du Togo established in 1955 in Paris, which was transformed into Banque Centrale des Etats de l'Afrique de l'Ouest on 4.4.1959.

The establishment of the BCEAO as a bank under international law, also based in Paris, followed the conclusion of the first treaty of the Union Monétaire Ouest Africane (UMOA) on 12.5.1962. The statute of the BCEAO is annexed to the treaty.

The relocation of the headquarters to Dakar (Sénégal) was completed in June 1978. The Bank is the issuing institution of the CFA franc (regional legal tender freely convertible into French francs and, from 1.1.1999, into euros) for the eight countries of the French franc zone (q.v. for the effects of the changeover to the euro).

It is governed by a Board of Directors consisting of 18 members, two from each participant (the 8 States of the UMOA plus France), chaired by the Governor who, however, does not have the right to vote. It is present in each member state with a national agency and also with other agencies. A Comité national du crédit is set up at the national agency, consisting of the Minister of Finance, the two state representatives on the Bank Council and four members appointed by the local government.

The Governor of the ECBAO attends meetings in an advisory capacity. The national credit committees regulate credit distribution and money creation at national level under the control of the Bank's Board of Directors.

In addition to issuing currency, the BCEAO performs the tasks of centralising foreign exchange, managing monetary policy, maintaining the state treasury, defining banking law and acting as IMF agent for the eight countries of the UMOA.

Supervision is exercised by the Commission Bancarie, established on 24.4.1990 and chaired by the Governor of the BCEAO. The BCEAO also supports the Commission Bancaire with secretarial services. The Bank also plays an important role in the field of research and studies on economic, financial and legal matters and training in the interests of the Member States. It conducts training with the Centre Ouest Africain de Formation et d'Etudes Bancaires (COFEB) at its premises and took over the Centre Africain d'Etudes Supérieures en Gestion (CESAG) established in 1985 from the CEAO in 1994.

The BCEA proposed in 2000, together with BOAD, the establishment of a Banque Régionale de Solidarité (BRS) for the UEMOA area for the financing of private micro-projects and for technical and management assistance and advice for small entrepreneurs.

The new institution should be set up by 2002 and should consist of a holding company called the Groupe de la Banque Régionale de Solidarité, from which various banking and non-banking companies or subsidiaries should depend, as well as a Trust Fund, intended to collect funds from patrons willing to contribute to the fight against poverty.

Shareholders of the new Group should be the states of the UEMOAthe BCEAO, the BOAD and other available public and private operators.

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