Mixed reactions has trail the adoption of a single currency (Eco) in the Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS) countries with its plan to be launched by January 2020.
As part of its plans to make Africa a more integrated continent, the name, Eco was adopted by the 15 member-country regional bloc at the end of the ECOWAS summit in Abuja.
Discussed for thirty years, this single currency between the 15 countries that make up the ECOWAS – eight of which use the CFA franc, pegged to the euro according to a fixed parity guaranteed by France, former colonizer of the region – is seen as a gamble risked by many analysts, but would be a strong political symbol, says AFP.
Despite these possible benefits, analysts remain worried about the lack of integration policies among member countries in the region.
An economic analyst, Tokunbo Afikuyomi said, “The single currency if properly implemented will improve trade by allowing specific countries to specialize at what they are good at, and exchange it for other goods that other countries in the bloc produce more efficiently”
However, Afikuyomi noted that a single currency will only work if all the countries involved are economically aligned, which is not the current case.
It to be recalled that the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele who represented Nigeria at the meeting earlier in Accra, cautioned against a hasty move to introduce a single currency for West Africa.
According to him, ECOWAS heads of government have not properly analysed a comprehensive picture of the state of preparedness of individual countries for monetary integration by 2020.
Speaking on this, a trade Expert and former DG, NACCIMA, Mr John Isemede, West Africa is not ready for a common currency.
He stated that readiness to the adoption of the common currency is the availability of a free trade area.
“There is need to put into consideration our readiness of a free trade area and a common border”, he noted.
He also attributed some Nigerian problems to the numerous signed agreements.
According to him, “some of these agreements we have signed are the ones that brought us these problems.
Another Expert and a social commentator, Mr Victor Okhai said the adoption of the common currency is right.
“It is a good thing that the ECOWAS countries realise that the adoption of a single currency is one of the ways to do for them to be truly independent.
Citing Euro as example, Okhai said that the adoption and usage of a single currency in West African States will eliminate the cost involve during exchange.
He also pointed out that the adoption of Eco will lead to having a monetary and fiscal policy that will benefit West Africa economy.
“Regional integration is key”, Okhai said.
On his part, an economist Julius Bino stressed that a common currency would expand market opportunities for Nigerian goods and products.
“Having a single currency would be of immense benefit to Nigeria. It would give our business men and prospective investors the chance to navigate the West African sub-region without the usual bureaucratic bottlenecks we experience,” he argued.