Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Ecowas Single Currency- A Solution To Remitance Problem in W/Africa

The ECOWAS Head of State and Government last week, adopted ECO as the name of the single currency to be used for business and trading in West Africa starting from January 2020. This is a step in the right direction when viewed from the perspective on international trade. This is because, one of the major factors contributing to the low trade volume in the region is the issue of remittance and payment of the proceeds of the export done which has to be in foreign currencies like the US Dollar.
With this new development, eight of the ECOWAS countries which include Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo who currently jointly use the CFA franc will now switch to ECO while the other seven countries which include Nigeria, Liberia, Mauritania, Gambia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Ghana will be changing their various different currencies to ECO. The different currencies used in the region has been a hinderance to trade because whenever trade is being done, the sellers tend to find it difficult to source dollar to make the necessary payment. This has strongly reduced the progress of the trade in west Africa and has led to increase in informal trade within the region which has also motivated the rise in the number of informal currency exchange who will collect CFA from an importer in Togo and pay NGN to an exporter in Nigeria.
The decision of the west African government to adopt a single currency for trade in west Africa will surely contribute to the reduction of informal trade and increase the possibility of capturing most of the trade transactions being done in the region. It will also increase the business opportunities among countries in the region via likely renewed interest of trading companies to do business within the region as a result of the ease of remittance. This likely increase in demand from the region could therefore lead to increase in the volume of production of businesses in the region and hence increase job opportunities, increased profitability and of course increase in wealth and Gross Domestic Products of countries in the region.
There is no doubt that adopting a single currency will contribute to the growth and development of the region if it is well implemented. A case in point is that of the European union who adopted euro as a single currency, and this has contributed significantly to the growth of trade among the member countries in the region. With a population of about 500 million, the EU is contributing about 30% of world trade and more than 60% of these trade take among the EU member countries.
Even though, the introduction of single currency comes with great benefits, several economists have expressed concern about the lack of integration policies among member countries in the region. According to them, a single currency will only work if all the countries involved are economically aligned and this is currently not the case in the ECOWAS region. This is why the implementation of this economic policy is very germane for the region to enjoy the benefits
Finally, the decision of the Nigerian president to sign the AfCFTA and the adoption of ECO as a single currency in west Africa are strong indications that ECOWAS and indeed Africa are in the right direction to begin to grow their trade volume from the abysmal low level of less than 3% and begin to favorably compete with other trade blocs around the world.
Bamidele Ayemibo/

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