The decision by French speaking countries in West Africa to rename the CFA Franc as Eco has been rejected by English speaking countries in the sub-region.
On December 21, 2019, the Francophone countries led by Ivory Coast announced that the CFA franc will be renamed the Eco, which is the new currency to be used by member states of ECOWAS.
Under the new deal struck between Francophone ECOWAS and France, this will also involve cutting off some of the financial links between Francophone West African countries and France.
“This is a historic day for West Africa,” Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara said during a news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron in the country’s main city Abidjan.
But the decision has been rejected by English speaking countries in West Africa, who claim they were blindfolded.
Six of those English speaking countries say the move by the Francophone countries was unilateral and unacceptable.
Ministers of finance and Central Bank Governor from other West African countries led by Nigeria held a meeting on Thursday to state their displeasure.
The six countries that rejected the adoption of the Eco as single currency until all issues are addressed are Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
Nigeria’s finance minister, Zainab Ahmed told the media at the end of an extra ordinary meeting of finance ministers and Central Bank Governors in Abuja that the West Africa Monetary Zone (WAMZ) Convergence Council viewed the action of Francophone Ecowas as “not in line with the decisions of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS for the adoption of the “Eco” as the name of an independent ECOWAS Single Currency.”
Zainab Ahmed said the WAMZ Convergence Council “noted with concern, the declaration by His Excellency, Alasane Outtarra, Chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) on December 21, 2019 to unilaterally rename the CFA Franc as “Eco” by 2020.”
He said the WAMZ Convergence Council urged member countries to “adhere to the decisions of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government towards the implementation of the revised roadmap of the ECOWAS Single Currency Programme.”
The WAMZ Convergence Council has now recommended that an Extraordinary Summit of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the WAMZ Member States be convened soon to discuss this matter and other related issues.
Beginning in January 2020, countries within the West African sub-region were hoping to use the single currency, ECO.
ECOWAS has a combined population of 385 million and was set up in 1975.
It comprises Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.
Eight of these countries use one currency, the CFA franc. Those are Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo.