ECOWAS at crossroads as Nigeria, five others oppose single currency

Africa’s biggest economy, Nigeria and five other West Africa countries – Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone have jointly rejected the use of the ‘Eco’ as the region’s single currency.

The move, which began 30 years ago, has been experiencing a delay due to the failure of the countries to reach a consensus.

The rejection, which is a pointer to the division among members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), might result in a face-off with the Francophone countries of ECOWAS, which have unilaterally adopted the currency by renaming the CFA Franc.

Recall that Alassane Ouattara, Chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) which included Benin Republic, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo, had on December 21, 2019, decided to rename the CFA Franc as “Eco” by 2020.

The rejection by Nigeria comes weeks after the country’s Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed disclosed that the Federal Government was monitoring proceedings of the planned currency change, and would respond at the right time.

According to Ahmed, the action of the Francophone ECOWAS countries was not in line with decisions of the Authority of Heads of States and Governments of ECOWAS.

Ahmed said, “The action is not in line with the decisions of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS for the adoption of the ‘Eco’ as the name of an independent ECOWAS Single Currency.”

She added that the West Africa Monetary Zone (WAMZ) Convergence Council, had expressed concerns over the declaration by the West African francophone countries to adopt the ‘Eco’.

She added that member-countries should “adhere to the decisions of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government towards the implementation of the revised roadmap of the ECOWAS Single Currency Programme.”

Hence, in order to find solutions to the issue and other related matters, an Extraordinary Summit of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the WAMZ Member-States was proposed by the WAMZ Convergence Council.