President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger and Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority Heads of Government has said that implementation of the ECOWAS single currency in 2020 was a top priority under his leadership.
Mr Issoufou made this known on Thursday in Abuja during his one-day working visit to the ECOWAS Commission and other ECOWAS institutions.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the high-level visit aims to assess the implementation of the major integration projects, note the progress and challenges to be met in order to achieve ECOWAS’ objectives.
He listed three priorities for focus as Chair of the Authority of Heads of Government to include consolidation of democratic institutions, regional peace and security and most importantly the implementation of “ECO” as a single currency.
The ECOWAS chairman explained that the creation of the single currency in 2020 will be an important instrument for achieving the economic and political integration of the West-Africa Sub-region.
“I would like during this term of office to see significant progress in at least three areas to which I will give high priority: the consolidation of democratic institutions, regional peace and security.
“And the economic integration of our States, particularly infrastructure programmes and the common currency. I would like you to focus on these three priority areas.
“Of all the projects I have just mentioned, if I were asked to mention just one that I would like to see significant progress, during my term of office I would say the single currency.
“This means that its roadmap must have a precise timetable for implementation with strict deadlines,” Mr Issoufou said.
To strengthen democracy and political governance within the sub-region, Mahamadou urged Member to continue actions in accordance with relevant protocols in the organisation of transparent and credible elections, a guarantee of peace and stability.
He explained that these actions should include assisting countries in difficult political situations, through mediation interventions.
The president said that the region was currently facing security challenges related to maritime piracy, terrorism and organized crime, a situation which if it persists, is likely to undermine progress and development action of the sub-region.
He said that it is within this framework that the Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government scheduled to hold on September 14 in Burkina Faso will focus on the security situation in the Sahel.
He said the summit would enthe able Member States reaffirm their unwavering commitment to the fight against terrorism and refine the regional strategy to deal with it.
The ECOWAS chairman said that in achieving regional integration, his leadership would focus on infrastructure, monetary Union, agriculture, free movement of goods and services and social development.
The ECOWAS Heads of Authority Chair noted that the construction of socio-economic infrastructure remains an urgent need for our region, as it is a factor in accelerating economic growth.
Also speaking, Jean-Claude Brou, President of the ECOWAS Commission lauded the visit of President Issoufou to the commission and other institutions to see the progresses made and challenges in achieving the objectives of ECOWAS.
Mr Brou said that the commission has helped Member States to make both economic and social progress at the national level and have contributed to the consolidation of the region’s economic growth to over three per cent in 2018.
He however stated that the sub-region was still faced with a lot of challenges and to respond to them in a sustainable way with reflections and actions already initiated at the level of the various Departments.
Mr Brou said that significant development has been made in ensuring implementation of the single currency since the last Heads of Authority summit in June.
“The single currency is in the regional integration agenda and as was indicated, there were several addresses that were made, very key issues were resolved.
“The issues that were really outstanding but we were able to find a solution. For example, what is the name of the currency, the model that would work for the region, what should be the monetary policy framework that would be for the single central bank?
“All those key issues were raised at the last summit of the Authority of Heads of States so I think those decisions shows that we are making strong progress.
“It was indicated in the last summit that it is important that to achieving all the all the aspect towards the single currency it is important that the micro economy convergence be fully met by member countries.
“And that a strong commitment from all Member States for the convergence because it is a key element,” Mr Brou said. (NAN)