The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, says the introduction of a single currency in West Africa will, amongst others, help remove trade and monetary barriers, reduce transaction costs, boost economic activity, and raise the living standards of the peoples of the Region.
Delivering the opening address at the 5th Meeting of the Presidential Task Force on the ECOWAS Single Currency, held in Accra, on Wednesday, 21st February, 2018, at the Accra International Conference Centre, President Akufo-Addo noted that it has been nearly twenty years since the idea for the establishment of a single currency for ECOWAS was proposed.
“We have had challenges along the way towards the attainment of the convergence criteria required for the single currency to come into effect. We have also chalked some significant successes to this end. Nonetheless, we remain determined to have a single currency,” President Akufo-Addo said.
To this end, the President urged ECOWAS Member States to renew their commitment to the ratification and implementation of the relevant ECOWAS Protocols, such as the Protocols on the Free Movement of Persons, Goods and Services, the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS), and the Common External Tariff (CET).
Trade, he stressed, cannot thrive in an environment of insecurity, indicating that the efforts of West African leaders must also be directed towards maintaining regional peace and security, democracy and good governance, as well as the strengthening of the ties of co-operation that exist amongst countries in the Region.
President Akufo-Addo commended the systematic efforts being made by the countries of the G5 du Sahel, and by the Buhari government in Nigeria, to degrade and diminish the capabilities of the jihadists and Boko Haram, terrorist groups who are threatening the security and peace of West Africa.
West Africa’s quest for a single currency, the President stressed, is not intended to boost trading of goods produced in third party countries.
“It is meant to encourage production of goods and services within the region. It is, thus, incumbent on us to strengthen the productive base of our economies, and to improve agricultural productivity and industrial production,” he said.
The President continued, “With a population of some 350 million, which is expected to increase to 500 million in the next 20 years, and with a total GDP of some US$600 billion, there is a viable market ready to absorb the goods, which will be produced by our industries.”
With the target date for the introduction of the ECOWAS single currency set for 2020, President Akufo-Addo told the gathering that the Ministerial Committee of the countries belonging to the Presidential Taskforce have reviewed the roadmap for the ECOWAS single currency, and have accelerated the processes for the creation of the single currency.
President Akufo-Addo, thus, urged his colleague Presidents to examine the conclusions and recommendations of the Ministerial Meeting and emphasize the need to put in place measures to implement the revised roadmap to achieve the objective of starting the single currency programme in 2020.
“It is for this reason that I entreat Your Excellencies of the Task Force, and the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, to give presidential assent to the implementation of the revised Roadmap that will be adopted in our meeting. We need to ensure that the ECOWAS Commission is provided with the needed resources through the set-up of the Special Fund for financing the activities of the revised roadmap,” the President said.
He also called on other ECOWAS Governments to take all measures to ensure that the macroeconomic convergence criteria, a key prerequisite for the introduction of the single currency, is consistently met, as this will invariably require marrying the convergence targets with national macroeconomic targets.
“It is my hope that, as we shape the future of ECOWAS, we are positioning West African enterprises to compete effectively in the global space. There are many amongst us, who cannot accept that it is only Asians who can engineer their transition from poverty to prosperity in a generation. We should be determined to emulate that in our generation in West Africa, and ensure that succeeding generations will be neither victims nor pawns of the world order,” President Akufo-Addo added.