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US$200M for ECOWAS Bank

Authorities at the West African Monetary Zone or WAMZ, the monetary union of the sub-regional grouping, ECOWAS say they need about US200 million for the construction of a regional central bank to be situated in the Ghanaian capital, Accra.

ECOWAS with its ever depending quest for integration of all its member states within the sub-region is poised to bring together all activities of the region under one umbrella. WAMZ  is statutorily charged to monitor and regulate all financial transaction among five member states namely; Liberia, Nigeria, Ghana, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

The Director of the region’s Financial Integration, Dr. Eunice Ngozi Egbuns told West African Journalists currently undergoing two weeks regional integration training in Accra, that the construction of the Central Bank in Accra by 2015 will lead to the introduction of the region’s one currency is expected to be called ‘Eco” by 2020.

The two weeks regional and integration training is under the auspices of  Duetsche Welle Academic, a German organization. The single currency for the 15 members ECOWAS was approved and adopted in Accra after the 24th meeting of the Convergence Council of Ministers and Governors of WAMZ.

At the meeting it was agreed that the ECOWAS Monetary Union should be launched in 2020 with the establishment of the ECOWAS Central Bank and introduction of the common currency.

WAMZ member countries – Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria and Sierra Leone – initiated the plan to have a single currency in 2000, following the Accra Declaration and the Bamako Accord in 2000.

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However, in what has been described as their quest to lay a solid foundation for a sustainable monetary union, the member countries have twice postponed the take -off date for the single currency in the WAMZ, which has a population of 190 million and a GDP of US$375 in 2008.

The launching of WAMZ will complement that of the UEMOA, which groups eight West African states that share a common currency, the CFA Franc.  UEMOA, created in 1994, has as members Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Togo and Guinea-Bissau. Two ECOWAS member countries – Liberia and Cape Verde – are currently not members of either monetary union.

However, the Convergence Council urged the two countries to ”join one of the West African monetary zones and the ECOWAS Monetary Cooperation Program for the realization of the single currency initiative”.

The meeting also directed the ECOWAS Commission ”to continue to collaborate with other regional institutions and member states involved in the ECOWAS Monetary Cooperation Program to ensure timely and effective implementation of the Road Map for the Single Currency Program” and to take ”stronger ownership” of the single currency initiative.

The Convergence Council urged member states to pursue appropriate monetary and fiscal policies and rigorous implementation of the structural and institutional policies under the ECOWAS Multilateral Surveillance Mechanism, in order to achieve convergence and a durable monetary union on a sustainable basis.

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