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Sahara Travel Forum Topics specific to North Africa and the Sahara down to the 17th parallel (excludes Morocco)
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  #1  
Old 22 Jun 2002
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Euro / Dollar situation in north /west africa

Now that the Euro has been around for half a year, what has become the preferred currency in north and west africa?
Are certain bills easier to change than others?
I presume that 100 $ bills aren't very popular due to lots of fake bills all around?

While on the money subject, is it a hassle to use a Visa card in banks to withdraw money?

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  #2  
Old 23 Jun 2002
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For Marocco:

Euro's are accepted, but not really asked for. Local Dirhams are still the best thing.

VISA: is ok, but not everywere. You might have to look around and try several banks. And... it is more expensive. Most easy way to get cash in Marocco is a normal bankcard with the Eurocard sign or Maestro sign. For me the Maestro option was the cheapest way to get cash. And you can find an ATM where you can use it in almost any average and big city.
Don't expect to be able to pay anything with your VISA card. I could only use it a very few times.

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  #3  
Old 23 Jun 2002
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MasterCard is widely available in ATM's in all main towns of Morocco, from Tangiers down to Agadir and maybe further.
Cash machines debit home currency and deliver real local dirhams - Fantastic!


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[This message has been edited by kitmax (edited 22 June 2002).]

[This message has been edited by kitmax (edited 23 June 2002).]
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  #4  
Old 23 Jun 2002
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Outside of Morocco, and before you get to Dakar, Accra or equivalent, then you will need Euros, in cash. Plastic is definately not fantastic!

Sam.
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  #5  
Old 23 Jun 2002
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Contrary to my experience elsewhere, the $100 bill is actually preferred in Libya. The rate was 2-3% better than if exchanging smaller bills. Anyone any idea why ?



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  #6  
Old 27 Jun 2002
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Plastic IS fantastic in west africa - visa atms in senegal (dakar, mbour, st louis), mali (bamako), guinea (conakry), burkina faso (ouaga), ghana (all over) and togo. Only place where it was useless was Bissau - but that's part of Bissau's charm.
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  #7  
Old 11 Jul 2002
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ATM can be found in Ouagadougou, Bamako, all over Ghana (200 000 Cedis ($30) max!), all over Côte d'Ivoire, in Dakar, Banjul, Praia, Lagos.
Visa cards works well in banks all over West Africa. I left Africa in May but it seems like dollars are still more accepted than euro (pounds in Ghana), but it will probably change. All banks I visited changed dollars.
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  #8  
Old 12 Jul 2002
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Contrary to most of the above replies, I found plastic almost useless outside the capital cities. Even in them the amount of cash you can withdraw is very limited, often not enough for a full tank of petrol (but we were driving a 101 :-) ). Dollars were ok but not really welcome but euros were welcome everywhere by the moneychangers that hang around the banks and to whom we were recommended by the banks themselves. Even so do not expect to use anything other than the local currency outside main cities. Also ensure that you carry some coin. In a village or on the roadside people are often just not used to or set up for using notes, however small denominations it seems to us, and to only carry notes may effectively mean that you cannot buy items of food, water etc at the local rate.
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  #9  
Old 12 Jul 2002
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does anyone know about the dollar/euro/plastic situation for the following specific countries: nigeria, benin, niger, algeria?

i will be going through all these countries over the course of about 6 weeks.

i was gonna take dollars in cash but now after reading the above, i am thinking that euros would be better.
at say 15dollars/euros a day thats a minimum of 650 bucks i will need to carry on myself.

and what about traveller's cheques?


any recommendations are appreciated.

jake
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  #10  
Old 12 Jul 2002
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Bank of Africa in Cotonou took travellers cheques ($) and visa card but no ATM.
I agree that big notes are worthless in rural areas (and capitals...), it can be hard to find someone to change even 10 000 CFA note to smaller.

Also interesting that the rate for small dollar notes are worse than bigger notes. Up to 20%.
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  #11  
Old 12 Jul 2002
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In my experience, whilst plastic is fine in Morrocco, it was of little or no use in:

Mauritania unless you do an illegal blackmarket deal in Nouachott. There are no ATM's.

Mali, as there is only one cashpoint in Mali and its in Bamoko. Outside Bamoko only a very few hotels and tour operators take plastic and they are unlikely to give you cash back.

Algeria: I never found anyone willing to take Visa, Amex or Mastercard.

Libya: I never found anyone willing to take Visa, Amex or Mastercard even in Tripoli.


Other money options are:

1) Western Union, but you need to get somebody to send you the money as you cannot initiate the transfer yourself. Added to which it is always converted into local currency.

2)Travellers cheques (amex are more widely accepted than ones issued by visa).

Organising cash en route is one of the low points on any trip I think. It takes a lot of time and is often hugely frustrating.
I'd take enough cash for my needs and use plastic as a fallback, rather than counting on being able to use it.
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  #12  
Old 23 Jul 2002
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I found changing euro currency travellers cheques in banks in Niamey (Niger) a very long winded afair, with a strict limitation on the amount you can change. Surprisingly I found changing the same cheques in the bank at Agadez (Niger) much easier and faster, and at a very reasonable flat 2% commission. (Euros are easier to deal with in the CFA zone because the exchange rate is fixed at 655.957CFA=1Euro, whereas the US dollar floats, and can cause delays in the exchange process because the rate has to be determined every day.)
This was in January-February 2002.
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  #13  
Old 6 Jun 2004
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I would like to ask the same question 2 years later. What is the currency situation in North and West Africa? Are Euros now the currency of choice? In 2002 when this topic was first posted Dollars were preferable.

(sorry if this has already been discussed recently but I did have a look for a recent discussion on this topic first)

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  #14  
Old 7 Jun 2004
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Go Euros, dollars are not of use in West Africa.

You'll get them changed, but at a terrible rate.

Sam.
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  #15  
Old 9 Jun 2004
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The dollar is still the way to go in Egypt, but the Euro is catching up slowly.
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