President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has called on the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to renew their commitment towards the attainment of a single regional currency by 2020.
This, he said, would accelerate the agenda for the greater integration of West Africa, raise the living standards of the people, boost economic activities and place the region on an even keel with the global world.
President Akufo-Addo made the call when he delivered the opening address at the Fifth Meeting of the Presidential Task Force on the ECOWAS Single Currency at the Accra International Conference Centre, in Accra.
The Accra meeting, coming four months after the last one in Niamey, Niger, on October 24, 2017, is to review the progress made by the Task Force, which is co-chaired by President Akufo-Addo and Nigerien leader, Issoufou Mamadou, on the roadmap to attaining the single currency for the region by 2020.
President Akufo-Addo told the meeting that though the decision to adopt the single currency for the region had suffered setbacks since it was mooted some 20 years ago, there was positive indication that the vision would be realised.
“We have had challenges along the way towards the attainment of the convergence criteria required for the single currency to come to into effect. We have also chalked some significant successes to this end. Nonetheless, we remain determined to have a single currency,” he stressed.
President Akufo-Addo urged member states to commit to the ratification and implementation of the relevant ECOWAS Protocols on the free movement of persons, goods and Services, the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme and the Common External Tariffs, to ensure a faster realisation of a single regional currency.
He stressed that trade in the region cannot thrive when there was insecurity, urging his colleague regional leaders to target efforts at marinating regional peace and security, democracy and good governance, as well as strengthening the ties of cooperation among the countries in the region.
President Akufo-Addo told the gathering that the attainment of a single currency for West Africa was not intended to boost trading of goods produced in third party countries but to encourage the production of goods and services within the region.
“It is thus incumbent on us to strengthen the productive base of our economies, and to improve agricultural productivity and industrial production.
The President said with the population of West Africa set to hit 500 million by the next 20 years, with a total GDP of 600 billion dollars, there was going to be a viable market for the goods to be produced by its industries.
He informed the meeting that the Ministerial Committee of the countries belonging to the Presidential Task Force, comprising, Ghana, Niger, Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria, had reviewed the roadmap for the single currency and had taken steps to accelerate the processes for the creation of the single currency.
President Akufo-Addo urged the Presidential Task Force and the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Governments to examine the conclusions and recommendations of the Ministerial Meeting and adopt measures to implement the revised roadmap to achieve the objective by 2020.
He also called on them to give presidential assent to the implementation of the revised Roadmap that would be adopted at the meeting.
The President further urged the governments of member states to take all measures to ensure that the micro-economic convergence criteria, a prerequisite for the introduction of the single currency, was consistently met; as this would “invariably require narrowing the convergence targets with our national macro-economic targets”.
“This, I hope will reshape the position of ECOWAS and position it in the global space. There are many amongst us, who cannot believe it is only the Asians, who can engineer their way from poverty to prosperity in a generation… We should be determined to emulate that in our generation, to ensure that succeeding generations in West Africa will be neither victims nor pawns in the world order.
“We have a historic opportunity to create a new and unique reality for the people of ECOWAS; a reality of prosperity and progress…let us seize this opportunity,” he said.