ECOWAS Monetary Council Rejects Quattara’s Single Currency Declaration

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Zainab Ahmed

James Emejo in Abuja

The West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) Convergence Council has expressed concern over the recent decision of the Ivorian President, Mr. Alassane Quattara, to unilaterally rename the CFA Franc as “Eco” this year.

Rising from an extra-ordinary meeting of ministers of finance and governors of the central banks of the WAMZ on the ECOWAS single currency programme, the council also recommended that an extra-ordinary summit of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the WAMZ member-states be convened soon to discuss the matter and other related issues.

Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, who read the council’s communiqué issued at the end of its deliberations in Abuja, described the action of Quattara, who is Chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), as not in line with the decision of Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS for the adoption of the Eco as the name of an independent ECOWAS single currency.

The minister reiterated the need for all ECOWAS member-states to adhere to the decisions of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government towards the implementation of the revised roadmap of the regional currency programme.
Those present at the meeting were ministers of finance from The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
Also present was the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, alongside his counterparts from Sierra Leone, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea and Liberia.

The Ivorian president, alongside the French President, Mr. Emmanuel Macron, had on December 22, 2019, announced the decision to abandon the CFA Franc, which is the currency used in eight countries in francophone West Africa and to adopt a new currency known as Eco.

Countries who adopted the new currency are Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo.
The deal with France and the Monetary Union of West Africa (UEMOA) was calculated to advance the Eco – which is the name of the new currency to replace the CFA as well as create the possibility of the entire 15 member ECOWAS countries to adopt same.

The declaration by the French bloc of ECOWAS jolted the other seven English speaking countries of the sub regional group, particularly Nigeria, which had been an arrowhead in quest for a monetary convergence for the region.

The federal government had during an initial reaction to development described the French move as hasty adoption of the ‘Eco’.
Ahmed, in a brief statement, had said: “Nigeria is studying the situation and would respond in due course.”

However, the latest condemnation by the council could be regarded as its first collective official response since Quattara’s initial declaration.
However, experts have cautioned the federal government against any hasty adoption of Eco in the interest of the Nigerian economy.