In Cameroon it’s best to have small money (or in French: la petite monnaie).
This means, you should have 100 CFA coins, 500 CFA coins/notes, and 1000 CFA notes available all the time for your purchases. This is because many merchants just don’t have the change to give you.
Shannon and Eila went to the local store down the street to buy some flour and a few treats. Two kilos of flour and a Sprite were 1200 CFA. Eila paid with a 2000 CFA note, but shop keeper didn’t have sufficient change for her. Well, what happens now?
This happens often.
In this case, as if often the case, the solution is to buy more or less until an appropriate amount of change is reached for the shopkeeper/cashier. In Eila’s case, we bought a roll of toilet paper to bring our change to what the shopkeeper had available and everything was fine. There have been other cases where if a grocery store order brings the total to 10,150 CFA — items are not purchased to make it so change can be made.
Taxi rides to a destination that is nearby is just 100 CFA or maybe 150 CFA. But if you don’t have exact change, you’re expected to tell the driver as you get in. He might not take you if he doesn’t have change.
In my western mind, it always seems odd that transactions are not made to ease the exchange of change, but that’s how things are.
So, in Cameroon, it’s best to have small money.