Ghana could start using the single ECOWAS common currency, the ECO, from 2020, the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta has said.
Speaking at the 2nd Meeting of the Ministerial Committee of the Presidential Task Force on the ECOWAS Single Currency Programme, Mr Ofori-Atta said, “But the single currency for 2020 vision is that let’s find 2, 3 or 4 countries that are ready and then once they meet up, we follow through with the others cascading in."
He said, "And it is clear, I mean the 350 million market is important to us for our industrialization drive and the population is something that is worthy. I think if Ghana positions itself well, we’ll be a great beneficiary of that so there’s every reason to do that.
We have to be, we’ve always been leaders and I don’t know why you doubt it and we have to work on it to make it happen because it’s good for us."
On the convergence criteria, Mr Ofori-Atta said “let me note that economic activity in the ECOWAS region is improving and most of the large economies are experiencing economic rebound.
According to the half year Economic and Monetary Corporation Programme, Economic Activity in ECOWAS was estimated to accelerate at 2.1% in 2017 in the preceding year,” Mr Ofori-Atta said.
He said, “The UEMOA and WEMZ were projected at 6.8 and 1.4 percent compared to 6.6 percent and 0.9 percent recorded in the previous year. Inflationary pressures in our region have also moderated.”
In Ghana, there has been a turnaround in the macroeconomy as the economy has been largely stabilized and growth has rebound.
The fiscal deficit has been reduced from 9.3% of GDP at the end of 2016 to 5.9% at the end of 2017. Real GDP growth for the first three quarters of 2017 averaged 8.3% against a growth target of 6.3% for the year.
The dream of having a common currency, “ECO” for the English speaking countries under ECOWAS by the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) began in 2000 but has failed to materialise due to the inability of the members to meet the convergence criteria.
The WAMZ member countries including Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone were expected to have a single currency like their Francophone counterparts using the CFA, following the Accra Declaration and the Bamako Accord in 2000. Liberia joined WAMZ in 2010.
The four primary criteria to be achieved by each member country are: A single-digit inflation rate at the end of each year, a fiscal deficit of no more than 4% of the GDP, a central bank deficit-financing of no more than 10% of the previous year’s tax revenues and gross external reserves that can give import cover for a minimum of three months.