On Monday, Mr. Essien Abel, the Director of Strategic Planning, ECOWAS Commission, announced that The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has set a 2020 deadline for the commencement of its single currency policy in the region.

“The 2020 vision seeks to create a borderless, peaceful, prosperous and cohesive region built on good governance. It will also give people the capacity to access and harness its enormous resources through the creation of opportunities for sustainable development and environmental preservation,” Essien said at a meeting on Strategic Planning Framework for 2016 – 2020 in Calabar, Nigeria.

“The 2016-2020 vision is specifically to ensure congruence of purpose and to ensure the effective mobilisation and utilisation of the region’s abundant resources and comparative advantage. It will also provide the general framework for advancing integration wok in the region and guiding national development planning process.’’

To accomplish the single currency goal, member countries are required to implement a number of measures including: Adoption of a market based exchange rate system, micro-economic convergence, removal of trade barriers, the factor of statistical harmonisation, putting in place a payment system infrastructure as well as other facilities that would promote the conduct of monetary policy within the zone.

Experts have been divided on the relevance and importance of the single currency to the economy. While some opined that Nigeria’s economy cannot support the single currency, others believe the best time to implement such a programme is now.

Head of ECOWAS National Unit, Ghana, Mr. Bonaventure Adjavor, believes that the currency will not be affected by the lack of a common language. “I do not see language as a barrier to single currency, the process to adopt the currency is ongoing and a new timetable has been set for 2020. He also said that the use of single currency would facilitate the movement of persons and communication in the West African sub region.

Advocates have argued that to actually achieve economic integration, the sub-region must be united under a single currency.

By Felicia Ochelle

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