The Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) seeks to become more involved in the region’s single currency creation programme and appropriate recent decisions on the matter issued by meetings at ministerial and Heads of State levels.
To do this, it has convened a regional meeting in Dakar Senegal from 5 to 7 March 2019, on the theme: “Challenges and outlook regarding the creation of the ECOWAS single currency – Mobilising parliamentarians for the actualisation of the project”.
The meeting’s opening ceremony was presided over by the President of the National Assembly of Senegal, Moustapha Niasse in presence of the President of ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou and the Speaker of the Community Parliament, Moustapha Cisse Lo.
The President of the Task Force on the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme, Djibo Salou, several ECOWAS parliamentarians, the Senegalese Minister for African Integration, Mbagnick Ndiaye and the Minister of Budget, Birima Mangara, were also in attendance.
In his opening remarks, Moustapha Niasse dwelt at length on the history and the role of the currency in Europe and in Africa since its creation, and subsequently commended the progress made by ECOWAS towards a quality regional integration.
Speaking in turn, Moustapha Cisse Lo recalled efforts made and progress attained by West African leaders in the implementation of the single currency programme; their specific guidelines for the exchange regime, harmonisation of the monetary policy framework, the future Central Bank model, the name and symbol of the common currency.
Subsequently, Djibo Salou declared that the non-existence of a common currency is an impediment to regional integration and encourages diverse tariff barriers. That which, according to him, hampers the free movement of persons and goods and the ongoing abnormal practices in certain Member States of ECOWAS. He however noted the Task Force’s persistent advocacy with the Member States for the lifting of barriers.
In turn, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou commended the initiative of the meeting which, according to him, will enable an assessment of the status of implementation of the regional single currency.
“This conference is holding at a time of widespread focus on the single currency implementation deadline, given the slow pace of macroeconomic convergence, harmonisation of financial and economic policies of the region. With the gradual approach of the 2020 target date for ECOWAS, the monetary integration programme has become a topic eliciting keen interest and lively debate within the Community, particularly among policy makers and practitioners”, stated Mr Brou.
“Following the progress already achieved in building a regional community, particularly the free movement of persons and goods, the customs union and harmonisation of different sector policies, the next phase will be to perfect the process with the creation of the monetary union, a unifying factor for ECOWAS Member States”, reaffirmed the ECOWAS Commission President.
Speaking of challenges to the implementation of the single currency programme, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou cited the existence of gaps in the harmonisation of macroeconomic policies and sustainable compliance with convergence criteria, the non-consensus regarding the choice of monetary policy, the harmonised exchange rate regime as well as ECOWAS Central Bank model.
He also stressed the need to sensitize West African citizens on the single currency programme and state of play.
For his part, Senegalese Budget Minister, Birima Mangara welcomed the decisions of the Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS aimed at expediting the process towards the 2020 deadline with the creation of the special fund for implementing the single currency roadmap, and steps taken to transform the West African Monetary Agency into the ECOWAS Monetary Institute.
“Beyond the economic dimensions, the single currency equally presents a social and cultural dimension forging a sense of belonging to a community. It symbolises a unifying factor and a means of social integration”, Mr Mangara stated.