By Lizzy Okoji
Prof. Jonathan Aremu, a don, said on Wednesday that the use of multiple currencies by ECOWAS member could hamper economic integration in the sub-region.
Aremu, a professor of International Economic Relations at Covenant University, Nigeria, expressed the thought on Wednesday, while delivering a paper titled, “Conceptual Issues in ECOWAS Integration” at the First 2023 Parliamentary Seminar of the ECOWAS Parliament in Bissau, Guinea Bissau.
The university teacher, who is also a Consultant on ECOWAS Common Investment Market, said that the implementation of the ECO was a key vision on the ECOWAS integration agenda.
The seminar with the theme “ECOWAS Common Currency and the Inter-bank Payment System as Promoters of Regional Trade” was organised to provide a forum for discussions on ways to actualise the implementation of the region’s single currency, the “ECO”.
Aremu said the use of a common currency by ECOWAS countries would pave way towards achieving the Economic/Monetary Union.
“Economic/Monetary Union is the last step in an economic integration process; where in addition to a common market, it also requires integration of economic policies in both monetary and fiscal including common currency,” he said.
Aremu said that to harmonising the monetary policies of each member state is also key to actualizing the ECOWAS economic integration to break trade barriers and the implementation of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS).
He explained that the ETLS was successfully implemented will make ECOWAS economically stronger and more attractive.
“As ETLS makes West Africa a more integrated market, that is attractive to investors both within and outside the region, the initiative indirectly creates a platform that increases Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises visibility.
“And, bargaining power when negotiating further agreements like on trade and investment across the continent into the global trading arrangements under the World Trade Organisation.
“Effective implementation of ETLS will not only enhance trade between ECOWAS member states but create a web of positive interactions and interdependency that would build trust and reduce the risk of conflict between them,” Aremu added.
Aremu urged the bloc to learn from the experiences of other regions that have successfully integrated their regional economies.
The 15 members of ECOWAS are, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.