The controversy surrounding the new common currency for West African countries keeps breeding lots of concerns ranging from the general perception that, there is a grand scheme being set up to seize the economic freedom of the entire West Africa. Many people are of the view that, issues concerning the initial economic relationship that existed between France and its former colonies, which is seen as the main catalyst for this reform has not been dealt with completely but are rather being extended over the remaining West African countries.
Whether or not, this emerging public opinion is right or wrong depends greatly on the authenticity of the terms in the agreement being championed by the French government and the African parties. Of particular interest to many is the printing of the new currency. Who owns the right to print the West African ECO?
It is irrefutably true that, Outsourcing of currency is nothing new to Africa and many other countries across the world but this particular question is very important in this context because of the emerging concerns and the history of what the UK government did to Libya during the regime of the late revolutionary leader, Muammar al-Gadhafi through a British manufacturer.
At the latter moments of the leadership of Colonel Gadhafi, the then UK government according to the BBC deliberately withheld about 1.6billion dinars (£929m) which was printed for Libya by a British company called De La Rue just to cause artificial shortage of banknotes in Libya. What is the guarantee that, if a foreign other than a local company is given the right to print, West African countries wouldn’t suffer any undue interference?
Aside the Libyan experience, there are other risk factors like the manufacturing companies printing some of the notes fraudulently because of access to the features on the currency or they could equally increase inflation by overprinting and populating the member states with more currencies than expected.
This is not meant to tarnish the image of foreign companies that manufacture money. There are reputable companies out there who are particular about their ethics. In fact, printing money in Africa equally has its own consequences. Our duty is to juxtapose current happenings with historical data for the right choice to be made for the betterment of the continent.