Multiple Currencies Major Constraint To Economic Integration Of West Africa- Expert
By Bukar Bolori
A consultant on Economic Communities of West African States (ECOWAS) Common Investment Market, Prof. Jonathan Aremu has decried the use of multiple currencies across West Africa, noting that it is perhaps the major constraint of actualizing economic integration in the region.
Aremu made this known on Tuesday while delivering a paper titled “Conceptual Issues in ECOWAS Integration” during the First 2023 Parliamentary Seminar of the ECOWAS Parliament in Bissau, Guinea Bissau,
The Seminar themed “ECOWAS Common Currency and the Interbank Payment System as Promoters of Regional Trade” is aimed at seeking ideas through discussions on way to establish a single region’s currency “ECO”, as one of the main visions of the ECOWAS integration agenda.
Aremu, a Professor of International Economic Relations, Covenant University, Nigeria, said that the use of a common currency in all ECOWAS countries will help achieve the Economic/Monetary Union.
He noted that: “Economic/Monetary Union is the last step in an economic integration process; where in addition to a common market, it also requires integration of economic policies in both monetary and fiscal including common currency”.
Aremu said that to harmonise the monetary policies of each member state is also key to actualizing the ECOWAS economic integration to break trade barriers and the implementation of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS).
He explained that the ETLS of successfully implemented will make ECOWAS economically stronger and more attractive.
He said: “As ETLS makes West Africa a more integrated market, that is attractive to investors both within and outside the region, the initiative indirectly creates a platform that increases Micro, Small and Medium Enterprices (MSMEs) visibility.
“And bargaining power when negotiating further agreements like on trade and investment across the continent into the global trading arrangements under the World Trade Organization (WTO).”
He added that: “Effective implementation of ETLS will not only enhance increasing trade between ECOWAS Member states but create a web of positive interactions and interdependency, that would build trust and reduce the risk of conflict between them.”
Aremu however urged the bloc to learn from the experience of other regions that have successfully integrated their regional economies.