Hopes raised by West African leaders of finally launching this year their “Eco” common currency, in the pipeline for three decades, have faded as the coronavirus crisis and squabbling over severing the remaining monetary ties to former colonial ruler France snarl progress.
Chiefs of the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) regional bloc said last year the Eco would be set up in 2020 but the short time frame was not enough for the sheer logistics involved.
Ahead of the euro’s launch, its founding nations took 15 years to grind through preliminaries like setting up a central bank, deciding on an exchange rate regime, minting coins and printing banknotes and updating IT systems and bureaucracy.
The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has now definitively skewered the African bloc’s ambitious timetable.
This was exacerbated by an imminent reform supposed to switch eight ECOWAS members who use the CFA Franc,