DAKAR, SENEGAL: The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has set a 2020 deadline for the commencement of its single currency policy in the region, the director of Economic Affairs at the Commission of the African Union (AU), Dr Rene Koussai has said.
Addressing a group of journalist ahead of the 10th Joint Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development in the capital Dakar, Koussai said that the move was part of the larger plan to have the whole continent using a single currency.
According to Koussai, the ultimate aim is to have the whole continent using a single currency as a way of improving intra-trade in the African continent.
Koussai said that the ECOWAS 2020 vision sought to create a borderless, peaceful, prosperous and cohesive region built on good governance.
“It will also give people the capacity to access and harness its enormous resources through the creation of opportunities for sustainable development and environmental preservation,” he said.
He admitted that although the process of integrating African trade had been slow, specific examples of success by various regions could be noticed. He gave an example of the ECOWAS single currency mission which he said is spearheaded by Niger and Ghana.
Meanwhile, on the other hand, a single currency for the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which Botswana is a member of, appears to be a pipe dream in the wake of the region’s failure to reach some of the targets including single currency, one central bank as well as common capital market.
At the 2015 Head of Summits held in Gaborone, Botswana most members states admitted to fears that the integration and the introduction of a single regional currency will tilt balances of trade and investment in favour of the more stable economies in the region that may eventually swallow the smaller economies.
The region is continuing to battle with issues related to economic transformation and regional integration. Over the past two decades, the developmental bloc has systematically failed to effectively translate its approved protocols as a means to propel economic development as a result of low Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Whilst there have been several calls for the bloc to maximise benefit from mineral resources to expedite economic development, little progress has been made in that regard.
On Wednesday Koussai said as a whole, Africa did not invest in industrialisation, preferring to concentrate on the service industries and agriculture through the commodity boom years.
Koussai is of the opinion that the continent is in need of radical solutions of its problems, including food, economic and financial insecurity.
“We need radical transformation, otherwise the migration factor will continue to haunt Africa,” Koussai said: “Only by integration, can the continent absorb and deal with the external shocks it is facing today.”