By Andrew Sardanis
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Additional info for A Venture in Africa: The Challenges of African Business
19 A VE NTU R E I N AF R I CA Monrovia, Liberia’s capital, named after the American President Monroe when the then Governor declared its independence in 1847, was reminiscent of the American South, with grand solid buildings dotted around the town and churches on every corner. It seemed to have the biggest number of churches per head of population I had seen anywhere. It also had a university, which had started as a college in the nineteenth century. Amongst the impressive stone buildings were the Masonic temple and the grand headquarters of the True Whig Party, standing next to each other on top of a hill overlooking the harbour.
It is in fact the capital of The Gambia, the smallest country in mainland Africa and one of the many oddities of the continent. The Gambia is a sliver of land a few miles either side of the river Gambia, stretching from the coast for 295 miles upstream. Completely surrounded by Senegal, its total area is 11,300 sq. , and its main resources are peanuts and tourism. The beautiful beaches around Banjul attract many visitors from Northern Europe, in search of light, sun and warmth during the European winter.
For a start, the Bank of France guaranteed the free convertibility of the CFA (Communauté Financière d’Afrique) franc to the French franc at the rate of fifty to one, its original parity set at its inception in 1947. As a result the Bank of France had virtual control over all the central banks in French-speaking Africa, and in view of the free convertibility French business in the area thrived. In 41 A VE NTU R E I N AF R I CA addition France secured preferential trade treaties with all its ex-colonies, in contrast to the British who dismantled them.