ECOWAS as a region has a programme to adopt a common currency called the Eco – which should have been adopted in July this year after several missed targets in the past.
However, when Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara announced recently that “in agreement with the other West African Economic and Monetary Union Heads of State, we have decided to reform the CFA franc with the following three major changes: first, the name-change of the currency from the CFA franc to the Eco…”, the dynamic changed for the worse.
The speedy launch of the ‘Eco’ has stoked divisions with the five Anglophone countries in the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) which want to adopt the new currency on a slower timetable – and as a new currency for the whole region, not just as a replacement for the CFA franc.
The Anglophone nations of Nigeria, Gambia, Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone, along with Guinea, issued a communique condemning the WAEMU decision to unilaterally rename the CFA franc as the Eco.
A joint communique issued by the West Africa Monetary Zone (WAMZ) Convergence Council, minus Portuguese-speaking Cape Verde, condemned the unilateral WAEMU decision to launch the Eco as a rebrand of the CFA franc.
ECOWAS members wanting to join the Eco are required to meet four basic criteria: a single-digit inflation rate at the end of each year; a fiscal deficit of no more than 4% of the GDP; a central bank deficit-financing of no more than 10% of the previous year’s tax revenues; and Gross external reserves which can give import cover for a minimum of three months.
To be honest, since several ECOWAS members are no way close to meeting the convergence criteria, it would not be possible to adopt the eco under the present circumstances; and Ivory Coast’s unilateral announcement of the Eco adoption from the CFA franc will by all means cause some consternation.
WAEMU consists of Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo – all of which are former French colonies except for Guinea-Bissau, which gained independence from Portugal in 1973.
WAEMU and Côte d’Ivoire President Alassane Ouattara and French President Emmanuel Macron announced last month that the CFA franc, which had been in place since 1945, would be renamed and subjected to a host of reforms.
This explains the sudden adoption of the Eco by Ouattara, and it is appropriate that the Convergence Council of WAMZ acted swiftly to allay fears. Indeed, we welcome all West Africans to adopt a single currency that will augur well for regional trade – but it must follow prescribed channels and not just a unilateral announcement prompted by a still-colonial power that wields far too much influence in Africa.
Eternal vigilance should be the watchword
Health Minister Kweku Agyeman Manu, on Tuesday 4 February 2020, addressed Parliament and revealed that government has allocated GH¢2.5million as a start-up fund to fight the Corona Virus.
This proves that government is not leaving anything to chance, and this should send signals of confidence to Ghanaians that despite not recording any symptoms of the virus yet, preparations are being put in place.
The Ministry of Health has therefore initiated the process to procure 10,000 pieces of personal protective equipment for the use of all our frontline health workers, Mr. Agyeman-Manu told lawmakers.
He told the House that insurance cover for all frontline health workers who may be engaged to do this work for us is being procured.
More than two dozen nations have reported cases of Corona Virus, but so far no confirmations have been made across Africa or Latin America except for one Cameroonian living in China; but that suggests the virus may not be too far away, considering the number of Ghanaians who regularly visit China to purchase goods.
Indeed, this Paper is happy that government is not resting on its oars and is taking precautionary measures to contain the virus should it spread to our jurisdiction.
However, a concern to many Ghanaians is that several Chinese nationals who are temporarily domiciled here have gone back to China to celebrate the Lunar New Year and should be coming back after the festivities. We urge our port and immigration officials to be on the lookout for any carrier of the virus when they touch down in Accra.
We need to exercise extreme vigilance in times like these, since the virus is devastating many communities.
Corona Viruses are spread through air-droplets expelled when an infected individual coughs or sneezes within a range of about 3 feet. Health professionals across the world are working around the clock to find a cure for the disease.