Central African Franc
This is a foreign exchange guide to Congo, the Central African Franc currency plus sending XAF transfers and travel tips.
In this Congo currency guide we take a look at :
- Central African Franc info - general info about the Central African Franc
- Central African Franc in the markets - recent XAF moves and predictions from the FX markets
- Travelling in Congo - currency & money saving tips
- Buying Central African Franc cash online - travel money for Congo
- Sending money to Congo - save on Central African Franc bank transfers to Congo
- Central African Franc exchange rates - latest & historic exchange rates.
Central African Franc (XAF) general currency information
What is the Central African Franc currency code and symbol?
The three letter currency code for the Central African Franc is XAF and the symbol is FCFA.
Which countries use the Central African Franc?
The Central African CFA franc is the currency of the above six independent states in Central Africa having been previously introduced to the previously French colonies in Equatorial Africa in 1945, replacing the French Equatorial African franc. 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.
In several west African states, the West African CFA franc, which is of equal value to the Central African CFA franc, is in circulation.
A social movement is developing to demand the joint withdrawal of African nations from the CFA franc.
The CFA franc is characterised as a credible and stable currency, a significant virtue given the experience of most currency-issuing African nations. This counter-argument is, however, flawed: experience shows that nations like Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, which post independence withdrew from the franc zone and mint their own currency, are stronger economically than any user of the CFA franc.
It is also claimed that the CFA franc has allowed inflation to be pegged at a rate considerably lower than the African average. For its critics, however, the counterpart of this low inflation rate is weak economic growth and the creation of fewer jobs. Not to mention that this low average inflation rate does not prevent cities like Dakar from ranking among the most ‘expensive’ in the world.
On 7 January 2017, on the initiative of ‘SOS Pan-Africa’ (‘Urgences Panafricanistes’), an NGO set up and run by the activist Kemi Séba, anti-CFA demonstrations were organised in several African and European cities, and in Haïti. The mobilisations varied in size according to country, bringing together intellectuals, pan-Africanist and anti-globalisation activists and others. SOS Pan-Africa has since issued a symbolic appeal for Africans to boycott French products. The current alternative to the CFA franc in West Africa is the joint currency planned for members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The new currency was due to enter circulation in 2015, but this has since been deferred until 2020.
Central African Franc (XAF) in the markets
The Central African CFA franc has a fixed rate of exchange with the euro (and previously the French franc) set at 1 euro = 655.957 CFA francs.
The interactive chart below shows the USD to XAF exchange rate and trend for the previous 3 months:
Travel, Currency and Money saving tips for Congo
The Republic of the Congo uses the Central African Franc (CFA) as its currency but often travellers do not get to use it. Brazzaville’s international hotels and the country’s few wilderness lodges accept US dollars, GB pounds and Euros.
It’s true that the DRC is a deeply troubled country. Beginning with the arrival of Europeans in the late fifteenth century, and the subsequent colonisation in 1885 by Belgium, extensive pillaging of the country’s rich natural resources, slavery and war mar its history.
Although the DRC enjoyed some prosperous years in the 1950s, the country fell apart again after independence in 1960 and continues to face waves of violence and war, kept at bay only in some regions by the huge UN peacekeeper presence.
It’s possible to visit parts of the DRC safely. The safest and most touristed areas of the country are Goma, Virunga National Park and Bukavu in in the east, and the capital Kinshasa in the west. Given that there are still serious security threats in the DRC for tourists, it’s best to visit with a tour company who will know how best to keep you safe.
Getting around in Congo.
The combination of long distances and terrible roads means flying is often the best (and sometimes the only practical) way to reach many towns in DRC. While the country is not known for its strict safety regulations, things have improved considerably in recent years. CAA Congo, KIN-AVIA and Congo Airways are generally considered to be the best of the domestic airlines. Air travel is not cheap, however.
Buses are available where the roads are good enough, but they are very much the lowest rung in DRC travel. Currently it's hard to advise taking local long-distance bus services as they're cramped, uncomfortable, and prone to delay, breakdown and ambush.
Despite a road-repair binge, most roads in DRC are still dirt, which means that rainy-season travel is slow and difficult. A 4WD car is a must almost anywhere, and it's not normally possible to drive yourself as a tourist.
Trains in DRC are slow and unreliable, and in general not a good way to get around. One exception to that rule is the rail link between Kinshasa and Matadi, where there's now a regular and relatively reliable service.
Do I need a Visa for the Congo?
With the exception of citizens from neighbouring countries, all visitors require a visa to enter the Republic of the Congo; visas are not issued at the airport. The 15-day single entry tourist visa is usually sufficient. On arrival, your passport must be valid for six months and you may be asked for proof of your tour, lodge or hotel reservation – a physical copy of your booking confirmation is acceptable. A yellow fever certificate is required by all visitors except infants under a year old.
Travel money for Congo
Save money and time by Ordering your Central African Franc online from Travelex, you get better rates and can pick up the XAF cash locally or even on travel day at the airport.
Another popular option is to use a Pre-paid Travel Card. Your Debit/Credit Card provider will charge you 2% from market mid-rate, but your bank may also charge an extra 3% as an “Overseas Transaction Charge” plus “Overseas ATM” fees for withdrawing cash.
For card purchases if offered a choice of currencies always select to Pay in Central African Franc otherwise you may get much worst exchange rates.
Congo Trip Checklist
Sending money to Congo
When searching around for information on how to get a good exchange rate when sending money to Congo you need to start with finding out the latest Central African Franc foreign-transfer exchange rate.
Then compare your bank's exchange rates to several licensed FX providers exchange rate and fees to see how much you can save (we make that calculation easy here).
Get a better deal for foreign transfers to Congo
When sending money to Congo it’s important to compare your bank’s rates & fees with those we have negotiated with our partner money transfer providers. To get a better deal you should follow these 4 simple steps :
- Open an account with a BER reviewed FX provider (id docs may be required)
- You specify the local or Central African Franc amount you want to transfer
- Make a local currency domestic transfer for the requested amount to the provider's bank account in your country
- Once your funds are received by the provider the converted XAF amount will be transfered to the recipient account you specify in Congo.
Use our Send to XAF calculator to compare the exchange rates of FX specialist providers rates versus your bank's standard rates you can hopefully save around 5% and maybe more - end result is more Central African Franc deposited into the recipient bank account and less margins and fees kept by the banks!