Leaders of the West African sub-region gave a firm assurance here on Wednesday of meeting the 2020 deadline of introducing the Convergence which is expected to lead to the introduction of the Eco single currency.

A declaration issued here at the end of a one day Fifth Meeting of the Presidential Task Force on ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) single Currency Program added that the sub-region would however adopt a gradual approach to the convergence and introduction of the single currency.

The Presidential Task Force includes President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of Ghana, Faure Essozima Gnassingbe of Togo, Alassane Ouattara of La Cote d’Ivoire, Issoufou Mahamadou Niger, Muhamadu Buhari of Nigeria who was represented at the Wednesday meeting by Godwin Emfiele Governor of the Nigerian central bank and Prof. Alpha Conare, President of Guinea who was also represented by Lounceny Nabe, Governor of the Guinean central bank.

When the sub-regional leaders in Accra in 2000 to introduce a second monetary zone and introduce a second currency called the eco they added a number of primary convergence criteria for each member of the second monetary zone to, make the second sub-regional currency a reality.

“The Task Force reaffirmed the gradual approach where member states which meet the Convergence Criteria can start the Monetary Union while the other countries join later,” the declaration announced. Meting the primary convergence criteria has since 2002 been the bottleneck in the introduction of the second monetary union in the sub-region, compelling the leaders to return to the initial plan of a single currency for the entire sub-region which will merge the Francophone and Anglophone zones as well as the Portuguese and Spanish speaking zones.

The West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) set up a Primary Criteria for the six members – ECOWAS Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and one francophone member Guinea and later Cape Verde, including:

Achieve and maintain price stability by recording single digit end of period inflation rate by 2003 and 5 percent by 2004 and Ensuring sustainable government fiscal position by reducing the ratio of budget deficit (excluding grants) on commitment basis to GDP to four percent. The countries are also to limit Central Bank financing of government budget deficit as a percent of previous year’s tax revenue to 10 percent or less as well as maintain sufficient level of gross official foreign exchange reserves of at least three months of import cover. In adopting the progress made by member countries, the Task Force adopted the revised roadmap for accelerating the creation of the ECOWAS Single currency by 2020, instructing all member countries to implement vigorously the revised roadmap. The Task Force also reaffirmed the commitment to fund the ECOWAS single currency program by the member states and central banks. “Our quest for a single currency is not intended to boost trading of goods produced in third-party countries.

It is meant to encourage the production of goods and services within the region,” The structural transformation of our economies can no longer be postponed if we are to meet the aspirations of our young people for jobs,” President Akufo-Addo declared at the opening of the meeting. He argued that the era of Africa’s industrialization has dawned so that we can also trade in the world economy, not on the basis of the export of raw materials but on the basis of things we make.

“It is thus incumbent on us to strengthen the production base of our economies and to improve agricultural productivity and industrial production. There is a viable market ready to absorb the goods which will be produced by our countries,” Akufo-Addo stressed. Enditem

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