A decision on the takeoff date for the ECOWAS single currency will be taken during the December 2019 Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Community, the Commissioner for Macro-economic Policy and Economic Research at the ECOWAS Commission, Dr Kofi Konadu Apraku indicated on Wednesday, 23rd October in Accra, Ghana.
In a paper presented on the third day of the ongoing international conference of the Community Court of Justice, the Commissioner mentioned that their decision will be informed by the report of the 15 member Special Working Group, one from each Member State, set up to provide the technical guidance to regional leaders towards the creation of the currency.
The working group is under the Presidential Task Force on the single currency comprising Heads of State and Government under the Chairmanship of the current Chair of the Authority, President Mahamadou Issoufou Of Niger.
Dr Apraku reminded the participants that regional leaders have accepted some recommendations of the ministerial committee on the single currency such as “ECO” as its name, a federal system for the common central bank, a monetary policy framework based on inflation targeting.
He added that the leaders have also approved a flexible exchange rate regime to ensure the currency’s stability and support the monetary policy to deliver a low and stable inflation and the operationalisation of the Special Fund for financing the implementation of the revised road map activities.
However, he said that during the coming months, consultations are ongoing to resolve ‘obvious issues’ such as the symbol of the currency, the institutional arrangements for its launching and the location of the Common Central Bank.
The Commissioner further informed that ‘progress towards macroeconomic stability convergence has improved significantly in recent years and the growth trajectory continues to remain high when compared to the other regions of the continent driven by a mix of good agricultural production, increased investment in infrastructure, rapid expansion in the financial services and sustained implementation of macroeconomic policy reforms.’
Despite these developments, the Commissioner said the path to sustained convergence in the region remains challenging as only two Member States met all the four primary criteria in 2018 compared to four in 2017.
“Similarly, no Member State met all the primary and secondary criteria in 2018 which compared unfavourably with the outturn in 2107 when three countries met the prescribed benchmarks, he noted, adding that there were also challenges with the budget deficit target.
In order to improve the performance of our Member States on the convergence scale in the medium term, Dr Apraku said Member States needed to continue to implement prudent fiscal monetary and exchange rate policies and adopt measures for enhancing revenue mobilization and diversification of our economies.
He also spoke of the ‘devastating effects of organized crime especially terrorism, banditry and the proliferation of small arms that are daunting task to tackle with severe implications for the stability of our region and hampered the drive towards integration.’
Consequently, the Commissioner indicated that macro-economy should not be the only consideration but that attention should also be paid to some of the debilitating social and political issues affecting the Community that impact on the macroeconomic environment.
Some 142 participants, including Judges and staff of the Court, Chief Justices of ECOWAS Member States, members of the academia, Heads of ECOWAS Institutions, Special Representatives of ECOWAS in Member States, Heads of National Units of ECOWAS Member States and development partners, are participating in the four day conference. The conference is on the theme “Economic Integration of West Africa: challenges and prospects.”