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West African regional bloc agrees to launch single currency in 2027

West African regional bloc agrees to launch single currency in 2027
A group of 15 members of the Economic Community of West African States has adopted a new plan to introduce a long-anticipated single currency, according to the Ivorian president of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou.

The new initiative to launch the currency, dubbed the eco, comes after decades of delays, most recently due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The nations have now committed to a start date of 2027.

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“Due to the shock of the pandemic, the heads of state had decided to suspend the implementation of the convergence pact in 2020–2021,” Brou told journalists after a leaders summit in Ghana. “We have a new road map and a new convergence pact that will cover the period between 2022 and 2026, with 2027 being the launch of the eco.”

The concept of the single currency, which is aimed at boosting cross-border trade and economic development, was first raised in the bloc as early as in 2003. However, the plan was postponed in 2005, 2010, and 2014 due to the economic pressure on some of the ECOWAS member states, and political instability in the likes of Mali.

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Nigeria, West Africa’s largest economy, currently uses a managed float for its currency, with eight others, including top cocoa producer Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire) operating the France-backed, euro-pegged CFA (which stands for Communauté Financière d’Afrique, or Financial Community of Africa).

In 2019, Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara announced that the CFA franc would be renamed the eco. The move provoked a widespread public backlash from English-speaking members of the bloc.

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