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Plans to introduce single Ecowas currency in 2027 well underway- WAMA boss

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By Tabora Bojang

The director general of the West Africa Monetary Agency (WAMA) charged with the responsibility of monitoring, coordinating and implementing the Ecowas monetary cooperation programme geared towards the creation of a sub-regional single currency, Momodou Bamba Saho, has said there is a high level commitment by member states and heads of state to meet the new time table for the introduction of a new common currency Eco in 2027.

The establishment of a currency union in West Africa has been in discussion for the past 3 decades but still remains elusive with multiple missed deadlines. In June 2019, the 15 member Ecowas countries announced that eco would be introduced in 2020 but this decision was rescinded at the Accra summit in 2021 with Ecowas blaming the Covid-19 pandemic for the delay and rescheduling it to 2027.

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Speaking at the 42nd joint ordinary meeting of economic and monetary affairs and the operations and administration committee of WAMA which opens in Banjul yesterday, director general Saho, who served as the governor of the Central Bank of the Gambia from 2007 to 2010, said unlike the past there is an unflinching level of political commitment shown by west African heads of states towards the adoption of a single currency.

Dr. Saho disclosed that significant developments have also been made in the realisation of the Ecowas Monetary Programme with the establishment of the West Africa Central Bank near completion.

According to the WAMA boss, other major areas of achievement have been made among them the building of a new regional payment system, the name and the symbol of the currency and a monetary policy framework and the exchange law regime.

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“We are in the process of doing the actual implementation of the infrastructure as well as preparing the legal framework for the central bank of West Africa and the monetary union agreement. These are laws that will determine how the common central bank is going to work. We are also in advanced stages in the preparation of a stabilisation fund that will be responsible for providing resources to member states to be able to respond to crises,” the Gambian economist stated.

He however stated that there is still a lot of work to be done on pushing states to implement policies that will allow them to meet the microeconomic convergence criteria as well as the technical capacity of the institutions to agree on a robust framework.

Asked if his agency has already identified which country will be hosting the central bank of West Africa, Saho said such a decision is vested in the Ecowas heads of state.

He said WAMA has already developed the terms of reference for the central bank to allow member states that are interested in hosting the central bank to make proposals.

“We are preparing the status of the central bank of West Africa, the distribution of the capital and pooling of external reserves and proposals for a voting system for decision making. These issues should be of vital importance to member states and member states will need to be fully involved in these discussions to ensure that all voices are heard and that all positions are taken into account,” Saho added.

The governor of the Central Bank of The Gambia, Buah Saidy, who was represented at the event by CBG’s director of research, Ebrima Wadda, said expressed pleasure with the progress made in the implementation of the eco, reporting in the past few months alone, the capital and reserves of the prospective central bank of West Africa as well as the distribution keys have been largely agreed.

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