Once upon a time, BNP Paribas was a pillar of French capitalism in Africa

By Joël Té-Léssia Assoko
Posted on Thursday, 22 September 2022 11:07, updated on Tuesday, 27 September 2022 17:52

Photo of the former headquarters of BICICI, a subsidiary of BNP Paribas, in Abidjan. ©ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP

The French bank, whose activities on the continent date back almost 150 years, is selling its last major subsidiaries in the CFA zone. The end of an era?

Within a few months, the adventure of BNP Paribas in French-speaking sub-Saharan Africa will come to an end, with the cinching of the sale of its last two major subsidiaries – in Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal. The heir to the Comptoir National d’Escompte de Paris – former sponsor of the “colonial banks” created in the 1850s to “transform into cash the bond indemnities granted to owners who had lost the ‘ownership’ of their slaves”, according to French historian Hubert Bonin – has followed the pace of a certain French capitalism in Africa, both in its advances and in its eventual decline.

From Senegal to Zaire