ECOWAS countries should proceed on 'Eco' with caution

PSI and its allies have cautioned countries belonging to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to tread cautiously in accepting ECO as a legal tender. They noted that wholesale acceptance of the currency without due consideration to differences in economic development indices, socio-cultural, political atmosphere and stakeholders engagements would retrogress nations and worsen the plight of the citizenry.

According to the trade union federation, the move to actualize the over 30 years dream of ECO to facilitate trade, lower transaction costs and payments amongst the over 385 million people was laudable, but states ought to consider possible underhand machinations by France especially in the eight-member states which use the CFA franc.

“Seven others have their own currencies, yet none of them is freely convertible” Comrade Sani Baba, the Regional Secretary for PSI's Africa & Arab Countries Region issued the caution at the opening of a two-day conference by the African Public and Civil Service Unions Network (APACSUN) recently held in Cape Coast, Ghana.

The conference, which was the second of its kind and the first to be held in Ghana was aimed at strengthening bonds, networking, protecting and influencing policies to promote the interest and welfare of members across the Continent. It was graced by heads of unions and representatives from Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Togo.

Comrade Baba explained that ECOWAS could not afford to rush into such agreements without full and proper consultation with all stakeholders, adding that rush in legalising the use will not auger well for all countries.

“If ECOWAS wants to tie the ECO to the Euro, then it should be the discussion between the ECOWAS and European Union, but not France. That’s because for 20 years, the CFA in the French-speaking Africa, has always been tied to the Euro.

That notwithstanding, he noted that the “Francophone countries have nothing to lose because their currencies were almost at par with the France CFA, but Anglophone countries like Ghana and Nigeria stand to lose a lot due to population and currency uniqueness.

He also urged, ECOWAS member countries to endeavour to keep their currencies and allow them to freely compete with others and noted that “in the European Union, some countries still keep their currencies.”

Osabarimba Kwesi Atta II, Omanhen of Oguaa Traditional Area, who chaired the programme, called on ECOWAS countries to scale-up public education in their respective countries, the essence of the introduction of the currency and its implications. He told African countries to believe in themselves, and put in place well thought-out pragmatic policies to quicken the pace of development to all.

Mr Kingsley Adjei Boahen, the Central Regional Coordinating Director, urged members to unify their front, act professionally with commitment and dedication to ensure judicious use of resources. He encouraged them to exhibit a high level of personal integrity and desist from engaging in political and other acts that contravened the ethics of their profession and development.

* This article was originally published by the Ghana News Agency.