Is West Africa ready for a single currency?

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Since the early 2000s, the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has been pursuing a common currency agenda, centered on the “eco,” with the intention of reducing barriers to doing business across the region and increasing trade overall. While the implementation of the new currency has been postponed due to hurdles in macroeconomic convergence across the countries and the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, among other challenges, many policymakers remain keen to forge ahead, with implementation now tentatively set for 2027.

As the region considers steps toward this goal, Brookings scholars Eswar Prasad and Vera Songwe have written an ambitious book on the regional integration agenda in West Africa and the role for a single currency in which they consider important questions concerning how ECOWAS could achieve greater trade and financial integration, with or without a currency union, as well as the…

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