10 July 2014

West Africa: Ecowas Leaders Consider Adoption of Single Currency

The 45th summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, ends in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, today, July 11, 2014. Leaders of the 15-member sub-regional bloc expected to take a decision on adopting a common currency, the Eco, by 2020 after two days of discussions.

Agency reports said other key issues being discussed at the gathering include economic partnership with the European Union, the conflicts in Nigeria and Mali, the introduction of biometric ID cards for all ECOWAS citizens and the abolition of residence permits. Others are the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, and the situation in Guinea-Bissau where a new President was sworn in last month following successful parliamentary and presidential elections.

Following recommendations by a committee set up to review the Economic Partnership Agreement, EPA, with the European Union, ECOWAS early this year indicated that it had agreed to sign the pact. The economic grouping said it decided to sign it to protect exports from the region. The tortuous monetary cooperation agreement was adopted in 1987, but implementation has experienced obstacles and challenges, thus prompting repeated changes in strategies.

The last in 2009 focused on two monetary zones for the project. The first comprises eight countries while the second consists of the other seven nations, which by 2015 will all be grouped in one currency area called WAMZ or West African Monetary Zone. The two areas are expected to merge to create a single currency and currency area in 2020.

Created in 1975, ECOWAS is today made up of 15 countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo). Its mission is to promote economic integration in all the domains. It is currently chaired by the President of the Republic of Ghana, John Mahama.

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