West Africa bloc currency ECO to launch in 2020

ECOWAS, the Economic Community for West African States have adopted a single currency named Eco, which it plans to launch by 2020.

Leaders of a 15-nation West African bloc have called for greater structural reforms as they step up efforts for the introduction of a shared currency, aimed to be launched in 2020.

In a statement issued late on Saturday at the end of an Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) summit in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, the leaders said they had adopted ECO as the name of the planned currency.

Discussed for thirty years, this single currency between the 15 countries eight of which use the CFA franc, pegged to the euro according to a fixed parity guaranteed by France, the former colonizer of the region – is seen as a gamble risked by many analysts, but would be a strong political symbol, says AFP.

The bloc, which represents an estimated population of about 385 million people, said it acknowledged a 2018 report which underlined “the worsening of the macroeconomic convergence” and urged member states to do “more to improve on their performance” as the deadline for the establishment of a monetary union approached.

The 2018 report called, among others, for the promotion and liberalization of regional trade, the consolidation of the customs union and the creation of a free trade area – all of which are yet to be met.

During the meeting in Abuja, President Muhammadu Buhari handed over the chairmanship of the organization to the President of Niger Republic Mahamadou Issoufou during the closing ceremony of the 55th Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government held at the State House Conference Center in Abuja according to local media reports.

Mahamadou Issoufou, ECOWAS chairman and Niger’s president, said there was “a real firm political will” to increase efforts ahead of the January 2020 deadline.

“We are of the view that countries that are ready will launch the single currency and countries that are not ready will join the program as they comply with all six convergence criteria,” Issoufou said.