By Slolleh Kofa
Even with the yet an unsolvable cancer of internal divisions plaguing each ECOWAS country, West African leaders still believe that a mere monetary currency will defy all odds in uniting and integrating their countries in the sub-region in the absence of vibrant and workable integration policies.
According to Tokunbo Afikuyomi an economic analyst, a single currency will only work if all the countries involved are economically aligned, which is not the case at the moment, even though Ecowas has set bench marks to integrate countries within the monetary union, it remains to be seen how prudent this fiscal and long term policy would be implemented given the skepticism that surrounds the debate and policy.
Initially, six member countries, including Nigeria, Liberia, and Ghana, could be swapping their currencies for a new one – the ECO. The ECO is supposed to boost economic development in the West African region and improve cross border trade, while analysts also say it could improve monetary policy and thereby free francophone African countries from France’s Neo-colonial hegemony.
If implemented successfully though, countries across the region will be able to move and spend money across different countries without worrying about exchange rate costs, says the economic analyst, Tokunbo Afikuyomi. The single currency if properly implemented therefore, will improve trade by allowing specific countries to specialize at what they are good at, exchanging it for other goods that other countries in the bloc produce more efficiently.
The single currency will also help to address the region’s monetary problems like the difficulty in converting some of its currencies and the lack of independence at some of the region’s central banks. But despite these possible benefits, analysts remain worried about the lack of concrete integration policies among member countries in the region. Originally intended to be launched in 2000, the ECO has been postponed multiple times, and the newest target date is 2020, but it remains to be seen if ecowas is ready, given these varied concerns