The pioneer Director of Macroeconomic Policy at the ECOWAS Commission, Mr. Frank Ofei on Wednesday, 23rd October 2019 warned that a further postponement of the launch of the region’s single currency, the Eco, will not bode well for the region and affect the credibility of the ECOWAS leadership.

Although the region was not ready for the launch based on the ‘unimpressive performance on the macroeconomic convergence scale,’ Mr Ofei said in a presentation at the ongoing international conference of the Community Court of Justice in Accra that it is the ‘expectation that the launch of the monetary union in January 2020 will be based on political considerations and not on both technical and political considerations.’

He spoke of the feasibility of the creation in the ‘nearest possible future,’ of a ‘strong, sustainable and credible monetary union in West Africa,’ considering the efforts deployed at the highest level of decision-making in the region and the commitment of stakeholders.

“It is more likely however, that the Community may start with a virtual currency and print the bank notes at a much later date,’ the retired director said in the paper, one of the over 30 papers presented at the conference, which was on the theme Economic Integration of West Africa: Challenges and Prospects.”

The former Director, whose paper was on Monetary Integration of West Africa- ECOWAS Common Currency: challenges and prospects, argued that there are favourable developments in the region amenable to a viable single monetary zone in the region mainly the political will of regional leaders, the existence of a road map with timelines that with strict adherence, will lead to a sustainable monetary zone and the existence of a special fund of $6 million dollars to finance activities of the road map.

Among the other congenial developments cited are the willingness of economic managers at the national and regional levels to ensure and sustain macroeconomic stability and convergence, the achievements recorded in the deployment of real time payment systems, the provision of budgetary resources for policy harmonization, the commitment of regional leaders to ensuring peace and security as well as the decision of the African Union that all its mid-year summits will be dedicated to the issue of continental integration.

Mr Ofei, who has retired from the service of the Community, said in view of the multifaceted dimension of the region’s monetary integration project, the ECOWAS Court will need to play the role of mobilizing the West African judiciary through sustained sensitization of legal and judicial officers on developments on the region’s monetary economic and monetary integration agenda.

It should also facilitate objective discussions by the bar and bench on the single currency, particularly the constitutional arrangements necessary for the adoption of the currency in Member States.

Moreover, they should engage in a thorough analysis of the legal framework of the ECOWAS monetary integration initiative such as the Macroeconomic Convergence and Stability Pact (Supplementary Act A/SA/.01/12/15) to facilitate comprehension and adjudication of cases related to national obligations under the programme as well as the participation of legal and judicial officers in a forum for the discussion of the region’s monetary union and economic governance.

He also spoke of the Court’s role in facilitating the translation of Community fiscal rules into the legal system of each Member State in order to enhance domestication and fulfillment of these requirements and help with defining the competences of the Court and other Community institutions servicing the monetary union.