Abidjan: Eight West African countries have taken the decision to stop the use of currency Franc, symbolic of French imperialism, and start the use of the new African currency ‘ECO’. The decision was taken during French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to the West African countries and the currency would be linked to the European currency ‘Euro’. Since the last few years, efforts were initiated to bring the west African countries together on trade, and economic fronts for which establishing a common currency was considered to be a significant step.
In 1945, the currency CFA Franc was created for the African countries and used in the former French colonies. Over a while, the countries became independent, but the use of the French currency continued. There was widespread discontent among the African people, who termed the continued use of the CFA Franc, despite attaining independence, as French interference.
The African countries thus initiated efforts to break the shackles of the French imperialism. The establishment of the ‘Economic Community of West African Countries’ (ECOWAS) by 15 African countries in 1975 was a part of the effort. The 15 members of the ECOWAS are Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Togo, Niger, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Senegal, Benin, Ghana, Liberia, Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde.
Of these, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Togo, Niger, Senegal and Cape Verde were formerly French colonies. Guinea-Bissau, another member of the ECOWAS, has also decided to use the new currency ECO. The French sources informed that the preparations for the agreement to implement the ECO currency by discarding the Franc, have been ongoing for the past six months.
French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed the decision of the African nations. Macron termed the choice of using ECO as a ‘historic reform’ in the African countries and expected its launch in 2020. Along with France, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has also welcomed the decision asserting it would prove crucial for stability in Africa.
Prior to the decision of the eight African countries, the ECOWAS had declared in July that it would use the currency in 2020. However, the final decision is pending as all the related criteria have not been fulfilled as yet. Nevertheless, the unanimous decision of the eight countries is anticipated to expedite the process.
Spread across 15 countries, over 5.1 million square kilometres of land with a population of 390 million and an economy of $1.48 trillion, is the capacity of ECOWAS. However, the growth of the West African economy has slowed down as a result of the political instability and cross-border ethnic conflicts. Even so, African analysts and economists forecast that the use of a common currency would provide the necessary impetus to the slowed growth.