By NOELA EBOB BISONG
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is said to have adopted a single currency known as ECO, as a common legal tender for member countries of the bloc. Reports say the currency was endorsed by the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government recently at a meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, during their 55th Ordinary Session.
The ECO currency is said to begin circulating come January 2020.
During the meeting, there was a roadmap outlined to ensure that all member countries meet three primary criteria for the adoption of the currency: Member countries having a budget deficit of not more than 3%; average annual inflation of less than 10% with a long-term goal of not more than 5% by 2019; Countries to have gross reserves that can finance at least three months of imports; Public debt or Gross Domestic Product of not more than 70%.
At the close of the Abuja meeting, a statement read by Nigeria’s Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mustapha Suleiman noted that the regional leaders instructed the ECOWAS Commission to work in collaboration with West African Monetary Agency.
The commission is also expected to work with West African Monetary Institute and all central banks to settle on a symbol for the single currency.
The ECOWAS Chairman President Issoufou Mahamadou has assured however that the revised roadmap does not affect the date for the issuance of the single currency in January 2020. Speaking about the deadline for adoption Mahamadou said “We have not changed that but we will continue with assessment between now and then.
“We are of the view that countries that are ready will launch the single currency and countries that are not yet ready will join the programme as they comply with all six convergence criteria.”
It should be recalled that ECOWAS, created in 1975, has a combined population of 385 million comprising countries like Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.
Eight of these countries use one currency called the CFA franc. Those are Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo.
The current decision to adopt one currency is similar to the move made by the European Union to adopt a single currency called Euro.
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ECOWAS adopts ECO as single currency
By NOELA EBOB BISONG
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