Member states of the Economic Committee of West African states, (ECOWAS) have revised the implementation date for the regional single currency, ECO. The currency which was earlier scheduled to be launched in the year 2020-2021 has been postponed to 2027.
Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, president of the ECOWAS Commission claimed the decision became necessary due to disruptions by the pandemic. This position has since been criticized by many Pan-Africanists who considered the move to be one of the usual proceeds of bad leadership from the ECOWAS.
Speaking to the press, Brou said “Due to the Covid, the heads of state decided to suspend the implementation convention in 2020 and 2021 and they also decided that the ministerial committee should look at the new road map.”
On the said roadmap, he told reporters that, “we also have in terms of the single currency a new road map and a new convergence part that covered the period 22, 26 and 27th period being the launching of the Eco.”
This decision was taken during the Fifty-Ninth Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS held in Accra Ghana, attended by heads of states and representatives from fifteen west African countries.
The ECO was first announced around 2003 by NON-ENGLISH West African countries, including Conakry. However, with France’s involvement, Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara attempted to ‘hijack’ the ECO, which has long been proposed to replace the much-criticized CFA franc.
However, Ouattara’s move was met with strong opposition from the West African monetary zone (WAMZ), made up of non-CFA zone countries such as, Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, The Gambia and Guinea.
WAMZ viewed the decision to be a unilateral one which lacked broad consultation by all stakeholders involved. President Buhari said at the time of the announcement that, “it is a matter of concern that the people with whom we wish to go into a union are taking major steps without trusting us for discussion.”
“We cannot ridicule ourselves by entering a union to disintegrate, potentially no sooner than we enter into it. We need to be clear and unequivocal about our position regarding this process”. He added.
The proposed reforms in the implementation process of the ECO include the conservation of all reserves in the Central Bank of West African States instead of the exploitative transfer of 50% forex reserves into French Treasury, the reduction in the number of French representatives on the Board of Directors serving in regional central banks among others.
Although ECOWAS stated that, the pandemic is solely responsible for the revision of the implementation date coupled with the introduction of a new roadmap, many political thinkers hold the view that, bad leadership, lack of consultation and a general believe that, France had earlier influenced the process contributed immensely to the change in decision.