President Bio calls on regional leaders to unite on single currency adoption

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 25 June 2020:

Yesterday, president Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone chaired a zoom online meeting of the West African Monetary Zone Authority of Heads of States and Governments, where he encouraged his colleagues Heads of State and Governments across the region to unite, in ensuring that the proposed single currency known as the ECO is adopted.

According to report from State House in Freetown, the goal is to merge the West African English speaking countries’ currencies with the West African CFA franc, to create the new Economic Community of West African States’ currency known as the ECO.

In his presentation, president Bio, who is Chairman of the WAMZ Authority of Heads of States and Governments, said that the aim of the meeting is to develop the union and continue the work of their predecessors.

He noted that even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the West African leaders are expected to take action and move the ECO project forward because a lot of effort has gone into making the ECO a reality.

Speaking at the meeting, Sierra Leone’s Minister of Finance – Jacob Jusu Saffa, who is the chairman of the Economic Convergence Council, commended the Heads of State on behalf of the Convergence Council and Committee of Governors of WAMZ,  noting that their participation in the meeting is a manifestation of their belief in and passion for monetary integration in ECOWAS.

President of the Republic of Ghana – Nana Akufo-Addo, expressed appreciation for president Bio’s decision to call the leaders to a meeting. He said that the pandemic notwithstanding, the process of regional integration is absolutely critical to the future progress and prosperity of the people of West Africa.

Other Heads of State who spoke at the summit, included the President of the Republic of The Gambia -, Adama Barrow, President of the Republic of Guinea – Alpha Condè, President of the Republic of Liberia – George Weah, and President of the Republic of Nigeria – Muhammadu Buhari.

However, at the end of the meeting no resolution of significance was passed by the leaders to push the adoption of the ECO forward with clear timetable.

7 Comments

  1. It is an irony for the countries that are struggling in the Ecowas region to be mostly in favour of the proposed regional currency (the ECO) to come to fruition sooner rather than later. The fact is, these economically least performing countries (like Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea) that are also far behind in satisfying the convergence criteria, will be hardest hit if the currency is launched hastily. The leaders of these countries may want the new currency to overshadow their economic inefficiencies; though this will only be a temporary camouflage as witnessed in the European Union (EU), when most of the weaker economies in the Mediterranean (Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal) became bankrupt a couple of years after the formation of the union.

    And, it is not surprising when the economic giant of Africa – Nigeria – is dragging its feet over a hasty adoption of the ECO. Nigeria don’t want to be another Germany in bailing out poor-performing countries. The ECO is a bright and viable idea, but until most countries in the region meet the convergence criteria, it might be a DISASTER – especially for countries like Sierra Leone and Liberia.

  2. I personally believe that President Maada Bio must try to convince our “big brother” in the region (Nigeria) that they should give the European Union another opportunity to correct their wrongs from the past since Generation Y thinks differently and they are more aware. Pegging the ECO to the Euro will definitely transform our economy because investors will start rushing to invest in our tourism, manufacturing and even Housing development industries. Credit facilities will be extended for homeowners through mortgage Banks and even car loans which will definitely enhance the lives of our citizens.

    • Why not peg the Leones to the Pound Sterling Mr Alusine Fallay. What would you prefer? Pegging the Leones to the Pound Sterling or the Euro via the ECO. Sierra Leone will be better off if we peg the Leones to the Pound Sterling rather than joining the ECO pegged with the Euro. Your thoughts Mr. Alusine Fallay. God bless Mr Alusine Fallay for his contribution on this glorious platform.

  3. I believe the President is now tired of wearing his face mask. Bottom line, lockdown is tiresome. But what else can you do? Just follow the rules. What a burden COVID-19 has brought to our planet and our President. Wearing face mask all the time is difficult EH.
    Concerning the ECO, President Bio must withdraw the participation of Sierra Leone if he observes an irreparable division among member countries. No need for him to waste time for the minute to withdraw, if the ECO project is doomed to failure. Sierra Leone will not regret at all in my view.
    Finally, I would advise the President to continue putting on his face mask. He said it recently, how dangerous it is for people not wearing a face mask. However, the President is human like anyone of us and can sometimes make mistakes. God bless President Bio.

  4. It’s good to have dreams. Sometimes, you realise them and often time they remain just a pipe dream.President Maada Bio, has opened a Pandora box by calling for ECOWAS, monetary union. Whose portrait will be on that ECO note? I will like to see our own very President Bio’s photo without the sun glasses in that ECOWAS currency note in honour of him pushing for the currency union . The Nigerians will raise their own objections, so will the other member states. May be Ghana will push for the King of the of Ashanti, Otumfuo Nana Osie Tutu II. Mali, Mansa Musa of the Mali Empire of the middle ages, or shaikh Usman Dan Fodio, the 18th century ruler of Sokoto.

    It didn’t come as a surprise to me, at the end of that meeting, our president organised with his counter parts, there were no commitment on the part of the other heads of states. In other words just the usual platitudes and patting of backs, and saying that was a good idea president Bio, nice try. We don’t think we are ready yet to take that risk given the cancer of corruption amongst member states. Also, the other heads of state fail to tell him, in other for countries to adopt the single currency, their economies must be able to converge, in terms of productivity, monetary policies and corruption kept as low as zero. For instance, the criterion set by the Euro zone for joining the single currency is that government deficit must not exceed 3% of GDP.

    Member states must have achieved exchange – rate stability for at least two years. Come to think of our economies that depend on foreign aid, that is a big ask. By setting these rules, it defines the permitted levels of fluctuations. I don’t think Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana, or Ivory Coast will be in position to bail out less performing states like Mali, Guinea, or even Liberia. You wonder why Sierra Leone is not in the brackets of less performing states, well I think at the moment economically, we are stuck in the middle of the performing, and less performing state. It can go either way, it all depends on how our government is ready to address the cancer of corruption that has held us back for decades. Don’t talk about tribal politics, that’s a different kettle of fish.

  5. I hope this new eco currency will be an independent african currency and not a new form of neo-colonialism with other means like the cfa.

  6. Very commendable move. The President should be relentless in this struggle. My observation is that often the problem lies with the bureaucrats than with the politicians. As one of the smaller economies in the region we stand to benefit immensely. Rwanda, one of the smallest economies in East Africa had to take bold moves to force others to join. Today that sub region is rivaling SADC as a destination for FDIs and for rapid GDP growth. He may wish to pursue that route in collaboration with the group of willing among the Heads of States. In the same vein, we should move quickly with MRU before it becomes redundant in the scheme of the African Continental Free Trade Area.

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