22 February 2018

West Africa: ECOWAS Common Currency - Presidential Taskforce Lays Groundwork

Photo: The Guardian
ECOWAS Headquarters

The meeting on February 21, 2018 in Accra, Ghana was to finalise plans for Eco to go operational by 2020.

Efforts at integration in West Africa received another boost on February 21, 2018 when the leaders of Nigeria, Niger, Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana met in the Ghanaian capital, Accra. The fourth summit by members of the ECOWAS Taskforce on the proposed Eco currency was preceded by two other technical meetings.

In attendance were Central Bank Governors, Foreign Ministers, representatives of the Ministries of Finance and Economy of Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana, Niger and Nigeria, and regional institutions involved in the ECOWAS Monetary Cooperation Programme.

The summit aimed at assessing progress towards a single regional currency by 2020. ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States, was set up in 1975. A summit in Niamey, Niger last October by the four leaders chosen by Heads of State of the 15-nation bloc also discussed how to hasten up plans for deeper regional integration through the introduction of the Eco single currency that has been on the drawing board for 30 years.

At the Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government on October 25, 2013, the Presidents of Ghana and Niger were appointed to oversee the creation of the single currency in a timely manner. The two Presidents constituted a taskforce, whose membership included representatives of the President of Ghana and Niger, to advise them periodically on the monetary integration programme.

The membership of the taskforce was reviewed in 2015 to include the Presidents of Côte d'Ivoire and Nigeria, as well as the Ministers of Finance of the two countries.

The main objectives of the third summit were to examine the revised roadmap on the realisation of the ECOWAS single currency by 2020 and a proposal from the ECOWAS Commission on the creation of an ECOWAS Monetary Institute by 2018. They also discussed concerns raised by the WAMZ Convergence Council on the revised macroeconomic criteria adopted by the 45th Ordinary Summit of the Heads of State and Government in Accra on July 10, 2014.

After the third summit, it was agreed, amongst others, that the Central Bank Financing Condition be reclassified as a primary criterion because of its strategic importance to monetary and price stability. The revised roadmap on the implementation of the ECOWAS single currency by 2020 was to be costed and sources of funding identified.

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