Nigeria wants to postpone the Eco in regional currency set-back

By Aurélie M'Bida, with AFP

Posted on Thursday, 13 February 2020 10:23
Muhammadu Buhari © Cliff Owen/AP/SIPA

In a statement on its Twitter account, the Nigerian presidency asked for the launch of the eco — the future single currency of West Africa — to be postponed.

Abuja claimed the convergence criteria established in the roadmap of the ECOWAS member countries, and necessary for the establishment of the eco, have not been met.

This is yet another stage in the trench warfare that began several weeks ago over the adoption of a future single currency to replace the CHF franc by the West African states.

In mid-January, the finance ministers and central bank governors of the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ), had denounced the “unilateral” decision to rename the CFA as the “eco”.

“Nigeria’s position on the eco is that the convergence criteria (between states) have not been met by the majority of countries,” tweeted the presidency on Monday 10 February, adding, “There must therefore be a postponement of the launch of the single currency.”

Monday’s Nigerian departure is a foretaste of the upcoming meeting of ministers from English-speaking countries, which Jeune Afrique reports, is scheduled to take place on Friday 14 February in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Convergence Criteria

The 15 member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), of which Nigeria is a member, indicated last year they wanted to launch the eco in 2020, after nearly 40 years of debate.

At the end of December, however, eight French-speaking West African countries, announced their decision to replace their common currency with the eco and thus loosen the very controversial links with France. The former colonial power notably hosts half their foreign exchange reserves in exchange for the convertibility of the CFA franc with the euro.

The surprise announcement was made by Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara during a visit by his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, in the aftermath of the ECOWAS summit that had encouraged efforts to establish a single West African currency by July.

Nigeria and several West African countries, particularly English-speaking countries, denounced the decision three weeks later, saying it was “not in line” with the recently adopted regional programme to introduce a single currency. For these non-CFA countries, it is not conceivable that the name “eco” could be associated with a currency that also does not meet the criteria agreed by all in Abuja in June 2019.


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