Paper Money

West African States discussing a new unified currency

Another unified currency may be in the future if the Economic Community of West African States has its way. The group has coined the term “eco” for a single currency planned for the members of the 15-country organization.

CNN, the BBC and others reporting on the results of a June meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, indicate the group will work with the West African Monetary Agency, the West Africa Monetary Institute, and central banks to hasten the development of a unified currency. Its introduction has already been delayed several times, most recently in 2010 and 2014. A new, and probably still overly optimistic target date is 2020. The goal of establishing a new currency unit is to spur economic development and facilitate cross-border trade.

Eight of the countries now use another unified currency, the CFA franc: Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo. Joining them would be Cabo Verde, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

Six economic criteria must be met by each country for the plan to go ahead. In 2016, only Liberia satisfied all of them, and no single one of them was met by all members. 

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