The year 2015 has been set by the West Africa Monetary Institution as year for the realization of a single currency by members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
This was announced by the Director of Financial Integration at the West African Monetary Institute (WAMI) at a meeting of West African journalists meeting in Accra, Ghana last week. This latest announcement comes after years of delay for the realization of the ECOWAS single currency.
The currency was expected to have come into being since 2003, but had faced setbacks. The single currency will boost trade within member states and ease payments.
Eunice Ngozi Egbuna (Dr.) told West African Journalists in Accra, that the ECO (the name of the single currency) has been designed in 2012 and that it only requires the political will of member states to have put into circulation as against the set 2015.
Dr. Egbuna said lot of progress has been made on the quantitative and qualitative bench marks of the ECO, adding that payment systems have also been put in place with the ECO Central Bank slated to be located in Ghana, with each member states contributing to the Bank according to their GDP. Ghana and Nigeria being the highest contributors are expected to contribute more to the bank’s setting up.
“The single currency is very much alive”, Dr. Egbuna assured, disclosing that the African Development Bank (ADB) has approved $30 Million for Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia to put in place their payment systems for the single currency. The Gambia, she went on to disclose, has gone live with the payment system and Liberia will be launching theirs next week.
She said WAMI is also working on harmonizing the convertibility of the currency to meet with local currencies so that inflation in Ghana will be the same in Sierra Leone.
She said that Sierra Leone is currently working on the payment system and will be completed in June or July, adding that Ghana and Nigeria already have sophisticated payment systems and by January 2014 the currency convertibility will be in place and by June 2014 the payment system will also be in place.
Meanwhile, the Executive Director of the Institute for Democratic Governance, Emmanuel Akwetey (Dr.) has expressed pessimism that he is not too sure that the ECOWAS single currency project will be realized by the year 2015. He however noted that having a common currency is good as it will facilitate trade and bring the people of the West African sub region together as one people.
By Abibatu Kamara in Accra, Ghana