ECOWAS insists 2020 single currency deadline is attainable

Dr. Kofi K. Apraku – Commissioner

The Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) says barring any hitches, its new deadline of 2020 for the introduction of a single currency for the region will be met.

Commissioner for Macroeconomic Policy and Economic Research at the ECOWAS Secretariat, Dr Kofi Konadu Apraku told a high-level technical working group on the ECOWAS Single Currency meeting in Accra that everything is being done to avoid another postponement.

Representatives of eight central banks in West Africa, officials of finance ministries, the West Africa Monetary Initiative (WAMI), Economic Commission for Africa and ECOWAS Commission officials have begun a meeting in Accra to validate a new study on the single currency initiative.

The two-day meeting will review the final Study Report of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) on the ECOWAS Single Currency programme.

The experts will also assess and evaluate progress made by ECOWAS member countries in meeting the convergence criteria for the single currency.

Addressing the opening session, Dr. Apraku, a former Regional Integration Minister for Ghana said the single currency project is critical in attempts at fully integrating the sub region.     

He said though the project had been on the drawing board for almost three decades, there is renewed interest and enhanced political will by the current ECOWAS leadership to ensure the new 2020 deadline is met.

“This profound interest has led to the establishment of the Presidential Task Force to oversee the accelerated implementation of the monetary integration programme and to ensure the realisation of the single currency by 2020,” he said.

The WAMI was established in 2001 to undertake technical preparations and monitoring of quantitative convergence criteria for a common West African Central Bank.

Convergence criteria were set for member States to comply with for the single currency to be implemented and these were known as the Four Primary Convergence Criteria and the Six Secondary Convergence Criteria of quantitative and qualitative benchmarks. However, the domestication and compliance of the criteria has not been simultaneous or on a sustainable basis in member States, according to information on the website of ECOWAS.

The initial date for the launch of the single currency was January, 2003, but it has been postponed several times because member States have failed to meet the set macroeconomic convergence criteria.

The Accra technical working group meeting, according to Dr. Apraku is critically aimed at quickening the process towards achieving monetary integration.

The head of the international economic policy Unit at Ghana’s Ministry of Finance, Enoch Obeng-Darko said reiterated Ghana’s strong commitment for the West Africa integration process and expressed the hope the Accra meeting will provide the needed impetus in attaining the Single Currency goal in two years’ time.

Established in 1975, the Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) was to harmonise and integrate the sub region economically. The idea to have single currency to boost trade among West Africans was mooted in the 1990s but several deadlines for its take off were previously missed because of the failure of some member states to meet agreed convergence criteria.

To Fastrack the process, ECOWAS has collaborated with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa to organise missions to some member states and some regional institutions to review data and hold discussions on the issue culminating the production of a report dubbed “The ECOWAS single currency: Assessment of achievements and proposals of criteria/options for attaining the 2020 deadline.”

The Accra meeting will therefore review the report and recommendations to the Ministerial Committee for action.  

By: Emmanuel J.K Arthur
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