The West African CFA franc is the official currency of eight states in West Africa: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bbbbissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo. It was established in 1945, replacing the French West African franc. The CFA stands means “Communauté Financière Africaine” (African Financial Community”), and the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO; Banque Centrale des États de l’Afrique de l’Ouest) is the official issuing institution.
The first CFA francs coins issue were in denominations of 1 and 2 francs in 1948, followed by the 5, 10 and 25 francs coin in 1956. From 1959, all coins have been issued by the BCEAO which started to introduced new coins of 1, 5, 10 and 25 francs with the title “Banque Centrale des États de l’Afrique de l’Ouest”. Between 1967 and 1976, coins in denomination of 50 and 100 francs were introduced, and a new small coin of 1 franc was introduced too. In 2003, 200 and 500 francs coins were introduced, replacing the smaller denomination notes. Contrary to some coins of the Central African States, there is no type of element that differentiates the emission for the member states in West Africa.
The 500 Western African CFA francs coin front design features a stylized sawfish, a symbol of fertility and prosperity in African mythologies (a sawfish shaped brass weight is used by the Ashanti Region natives for weighing gold dust (Ghana) and its representative in the West African States). The reverse coin design illustrates a mixture of the main food products in the West African States region (millet, maize, bananas and rice), the denomination and the date of issue. This coin is part of the 2003 – 2010 series, its rim is fluted and plain sections, and its color is silver and gold
Text: Banque Centrale Des Etats De L’afrique De L’ouest, Union Monetaire Ouest-Africaine, 500 FCFA, 2005.