By Temitope Ponle
The Chairman of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama ssays achieving the ECOWAS Single Currency by 2020 will be a challenge.
Onyeama said this while responding to questions from newsmen at the end of the 54th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS of Heads of State and Government in Abuja on Saturday.
The chairman, who is Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister, said that there were certain criteria that needed to be fulfilled for a region to achieve the single currency, and which were not yet fully addressed.
“There is a roadmap, the convergence criteria that have to be satisfied before we can really get to the stage of a single currency.
“In ECOWAS, we have a group of countries that in essence almost have a single currency mechanism in place and we have other countries that have their own currencies and being able to align all these is going to take some time.
“It will be a challenge to achieve the single currency by 2020 but all the efforts are being made.”
He said however that the central bank governors, finance ministers and experts in the region were working toward ensuring that the set timeline was achieved.
“The political will is there and it is really a question to see whether the economic and fiscal realities will converge with the political aspirations.”
Also responding, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr Jean-Claude Brou said the region had made very good progress in its efforts to ensure free movement of people among member states.
Brou said that part of the efforts was to have biometric identity card for all citizens in the region to promote security and facilitate the achievement of the single currency.
“Three countries in ECOWAS are already using the ECOWAS Biometric Identity card, so we are urging other countries to do it.
“It has security features and that will also increase security in the region and at the same time, not prevent free movement of goods and persons which is a very important step of the single market.”