Paper Money

African nations continue common currency talks

This Series 1980 5,000-franc note of the Central African Republic is one of several currencies now in use by multiple nations with a French imperial history on the continent.

Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

A group of West African countries has begun work on a single currency to be introduced by 2020. Numerous media reports said the “ECO,” as the currency is called, will be introduced in the member nations of the West African Monetary Zone — Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, the Gambia, Guinea and Liberia.

The goal of a single currency was reaffirmed at a meeting of a task force in Accra, Ghana, on Feb. 21. Ghana’s president, Nana Akufo-Addo, said, “With a population of some 350 million, which is expected to increase to 500 million in the next 20 years, and with a total GDP of some US$600 billion, there is a viable market ready to absorb the goods, which will be produced by our industries.” 

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The group established conditions regrading inflation rates, deficits, central bank financing, and reserves that the associated countries will need to meet before qualifying to participate in the shared currency.

A common currency for the region has been an official goal since December 2000, in concert with the formal launch of the West African Monetary Zone. The ECO was originally scheduled for introduction in 2003 but has been repeatedly postponed. 

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