West Africa’s single currency 'difficult' to achieve

Monday December 24 2018

Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara (L) chats

Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara (L) chats with his Togolese colleague Faure Gnassingbé (R) as Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo (C) looks as they arrive to to take part in the Summit of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) in Abuja, on December 22, 2018. PHOTO | AFP 

MOHAMMED MOMOH
By MOHAMMED MOMOH
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The Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) says achieving the single currency by 2020 will be a challenge.

The Ecowas Council of Ministers chairman, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, made the remark at the end of the 54th Ordinary Session of the Heads of State and Government in Abuja on Sunday night.

The single currency issue has been lingering in the 15 French and English speaking member countries' bloc.

Mr Onyeama, who is also Nigeria’s Foreign minister, said that there were certain conditions that needed to be fulfilled for the region to achieve the single currency.

“There is a roadmap, the convergence criteria that have to be satisfied before we can really get to the stage of a single currency.

“In Ecowas, we have a group of countries that in essence almost have a single currency mechanism in place and we have other countries that have their own currencies and being able to align all these is going to take some time.

Set timeline

“It will be a challenge to achieve the single currency by 2020, but all the efforts are being made,” said Mr Onyeama.

He, however, noted that the central bank governors, Finance ministers and experts in the region were working toward ensuring that the set timeline was achieved.

“The political will is there and it is really a question to see whether the economic and fiscal realities will converge with the political aspirations.”

The President of the Ecowas Commission, Mr Jean-Claude Brou, said the region had made good progress in its efforts to ensure free movement of people among member states.

Free movement

He said that part of the efforts was to have biometric identity card for all citizens to promote security and facilitate the achievement of the single currency.

“Three countries in Ecowas are already using the Biometric Identity card, so we are urging other countries to do it.

“It has features and that will also increase security in the region and at the same time, not prevent free movement of goods and persons which is a very important step of the single market.”

The Ecowas Heads of State and Government challenged Nigeria and Senegal to ensure that their elections were peaceful, free and transparent.

“The Authority notes with satisfaction, the status of preparation for the general elections in Nigeria on Feb. 16, 2019 and presidential election in Senegal on Feb. 24, 2019 and urges the government and relevant electoral bodies to leave no stone unturned in ensuring the elections are peaceful, free and transparent,” read the Ecowas communique.

Local elections

They also lauded the smooth conduct of the elections in Mali and congratulated President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita on his re-election.

On Togo, the leaders commended the endeavours of presidents Nana Akuffo-Addo of Ghana and Alpha Conde of Guinea and the Ecowas facilitators in the resolution of the crisis.

They noted the readiness of the Togolese government to organise local elections in 2019 and encouraged the active involvement of all stakeholders for a peaceful process.

The bloc lauded the positive political and security developments in Gambia and further took note of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission.

The heads of state expressed concern on the delay in the parliamentary elections in Guinea Bissau and encouraged the stakeholders to work towards the polls on March 10, 2019.

Nine presidents attended the 54th Ecowas session, while five others were represented.

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