The Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) appears uncertain about it’s 2020 deadline for the introduction of a common single currency for the region.
ECOWAS leaders say meeting the deadline will be difficult. The Chairman of the regional bloc’s council of Ministers, Geoferry Onyeama says there are still some major hurdles to clear before meeting the target.
He was speaking on the sidelines of the just ended 54th Ordinary Session of the Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS in Abuja.
The three primary criteria that are being used are a budget deficit of not more than 3 percent; average annual inflation of less than 10 percent with a long-term goal of not more than 5 percent by 2019.
Then the issue of gross reserves that can finance at least three months of imports.
The three secondary convergence criteria that have been adopted by ECOWAS are public debt or Gross Domestic Product of not more than 70 percent.
Then the issue of central bank financing of budget deficit not more than 10 percent of previous year’s tax revenue, and nominal exchange rate variation of plus or minus 10 percent.
The latest doubt about the deadline for introducing the ECO is coming on the back of several shifts in the deadline.
The recent Ebola outbreak between 2013 and 2016 in three West Africa countries namely Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia also contributed largely to the inability of ECOWAS to introduce the ECO.
A recent study in the Journal of Infectious Diseases pegged the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the three West African countries at $53 billion.