West African leaders push for single currency by 2020

  • Sunday 14, July 2019 08:01 AM
Sharjah 24 – AFP: Western African countries who meet conditions should declare together whether they will join a common currency for the region by 2020, Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara said on Tuesday.
The idea of a common West African currency was first proposed almost three decades ago in the hope of boosting cross border trade and economic development.

But talks have been dogged by disagreements over what some see as the African version of the euro.

Last month the 15-member Economic Community of West African States, known as ECOWAS, agreed to call the planned currency "Eco".

"We hope that this can be done as soon as possible. It is the wish of the people," Ouattara said in Paris after a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron.

"All depends on the willingness of each state. Ivory Coast respects the criteria for coming together in 2020 and others do too. But some do not."

Eight ECOWAS countries, Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo , jointly use the CFA franc.

They are moored to the single European currency and are gathered in an organisation called the West African Monetary Union, or WAMU.

But the seven other ECOWAS countries have their own currencies, none of them freely convertible.

ECOWAS leaders have already acknowledged that the 2020 target date is unlikely to be met but have vowed to push on, while accepting there are numerous stumbling blocks.

Analysts see one major problem is Nigeria , the region's economic powerhouse, which would dominate any future currency zone and has been sceptical about its benefits.