The Ghanaian government has hailed the resolve by eight member nations of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to cut their colonial links with France’s CFA (Communaute Financiere d’Afrique) Franc and adopt ECO as their common currency.
This is even as the Nigerian government is yet to take a definite position on the development.
The President of the Republic Cote d’Ivoire, Alassane Ouattara, announced the collective decision at a bilateral meeting during the 56th Ordinary session of the ECOWAS in Abuja.
President Ouattara who said the French government consented to the West African States’ decision to join the ‘‘ECO’’, quoted the French President, Emmanuel Macron, as describing the decision as “historic reform”.
‘Nigeria not sure’
The ECO is the currency all ECOWAS member countries had initially agreed to adopt as a single currency. However, there have been concerns raised that the early adoption by the French-speaking ECOWAS countries was a way for France to have control over the new currency. That concern appears to be one the Nigerian government is reviewing.
More than a week since the eight countries announced the decision, the Nigerian government, through a statement by the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning on Monday said it was studying the situation with the hope of coming up with an appropriate response later.
“Nigeria has received the news of the change of name of the UEMOA currency, the CFA (Communaute Financiere d’Aafrique) to ECO supposedly as the ECOWAS Single currency. Nigeria is studying the situation and would respond in due course,” a terse statement signed by Yunusa Abdullahi, the spokesperson to the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, said.
But, some Nigerians have criticised the tepid manner the Federal Government is handling the development, which they said was at the core of regional economic integration effort Nigeria has been spearheading.
Critic chides Nigeria
A civil rights activist, Chido Onuma, who commented on the issue, told our reporter he was not impressed about Nigeria reaction, adding that this smacks of a high level of unseriousness.
“I am surprised that Nigeria is saying it will study the situation and will respond later. I thought Nigeria has been part of the process all along. How long will it take the country to study the situation and come up with a response?
“Who will wait for them to do all that over an issue our head of the Economic Council could have reacted immediately, having been conversant with the issues and anticipating all the responses to all possible scenarios as they unfold? It’s really unfortunate. It smacks of a high level of unseriousness,” he said.
Ghana decisive; applauds move
However, the Ghanaian government in its statement said it noted the declaration by the affected countries to discontinue the use of the CFA Franc in favour of the proposed new common currency of ECOWAS, the ECO, beginning in 2020.
“This is a welcome development, which Ghana warmly applauds. It is a good testimony to the importance that is being attached not only to the establishment of the monetary union, but also to the larger agenda of the West African integration.
“We in Ghana are determined to do whatever we can to enable us join the member states of UEMOA (the West African Economic and Monetary Union) soon in the use of the ECO, as we believe it will help remove trade and monetary barriers, reduce transaction costs, boost economic activity and raise the living standards of our people,” the Ghanaian government statement said.
The statement, signed by the director of communications in the country’s Communications Directorate, Eugene Arhin, said the Ghanaian government urges the other member states of ECOWAS to “work rapidly towards implementing the decisions of the Authorities of ECOWAS”.
He listed the decisions to include “the adoption of a flexible exchange rate regime, instituting a federal system for the ECOWAS Central Bank and other related agreed convergence criteria, to ensure the region achieves the single currency objectives of ECOWAS as soon as possible for all member states”.
“We have a historic opportunity to create a new reality for the people of ECOWAS, a reality of general prosperity and progress,” he added.