West Africa Adopts a Single Currency
As part of its plans to make Africa a more integrated continent, leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have adopted the name ‘ECO’ for a planned single currency to be used in the region. The 15 member group announced at the end of a recent ECOWAS summit in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital. Six member countries, including Nigeria, Liberia, and Ghana, could be swapping their currencies for a new one – the ECO. Eight ECOWAS countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo) currently jointly use the CFA franc. Originally intended to be launched in 2000, the ECO has been postponed multiple times, and the newest target date is 2020. ECOWAS will be working with the West African Monetary Agency (WAMA), the West Africa Monetary Institute (WAMI) and central banks to speed up the implementation of a new road map for the proposed single trade currency. ECO is supposed to boost economic development in the West African region and improve cross border trade. Once implemented, countries across the region will be able to move and spend money across different countries without worrying about exchange rate costs.
This decision may be a disappointment for President Ramaphosa, who mentioned in his first SONA the possibility of a future single African Continental currency based on the Rand.
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