13 presidents from the 15 West African countries assembled last week for the 55th Summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Abuja while Cape Verde and Senegal sent representatives. The summit saw an end to President Buhari’s term as ECOWAS chairman as he stepped down and handed over to president Issofou Mahamadou of Niger Republic.
The big announcement: At the summit, the name for the long promised ECOWAS common currency was announced as ‘ECO’.
ECO is expected to be unveiled in January 2020. The original plan was for it to be launched in 2000.
- Proponents of the common currency believe that it could spur trade and economic development in the region. Residents of the region could move across different countries without current concerns around exchange rates.
- Caution: There is no evidence that most of the issues that led to the several postponements in adopting and launching the country have been solved. For example, the monetary and fiscal policies of the different countries are not integrated. This could make implementing a uniform currency difficult. Consequently, it is possible that another postponement may be on the cards.