The long-awaited common currency for West Africa should become a reality in 2027, the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government have agreed at an extra-ordinary meeting in Accra, Ghana.
“We have a new roadmap and a new pact that will cover the period between 2022-2026, and 2027 being the launch of the Eco,” said Jean Claude Kassi Brou, President of the ECOWAS Commission, at the end of the conference on Saturday (19 June).
A Ministerial Committee on the Single Currency had held a video conference on 23 January 2021 at which the new roadmap and a macroeconomic convergence and stability pact for the launch of eco by 2027 were agreed.
The 15-nation regional bloc originally wanted to launch the common currency this year but postponed the plan last September due to challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
However, analysts doubt that the postponement was only due to the global health crisis. The convergence criteria are yet to be met a majority of ECOWAS members and there are justifiable doubts about the commitment of all participants to the project.
In 2019, Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara announced the change of name of the CFA franc, the currency used by the French-speaking West African countries, to eco, the name that ECOWAS had earlier adopted for the regional single currency.
France is viewed as being behind the controversial decision, which was announced at a press conference on 23 December 2019 in the presence of French President Emmanuel Macron in Abidjan.
In 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria cautioned that the ambition for the regional currency could be in serious jeopardy unless member states complied with agreed processes of reaching the collective goal.
A major hindrance to the achievement of macroeconomic convergence and stability in the region is the crisis of insecurity engulfing the Sahel as well as northern Nigeria. Islamist insurgencies are making it difficult for governments in the affected countries to concentrate on economic development and run disciplined public finance regimes as scarce resources have to be devoted to security and humanitarian responses.