Could West Africa introduce a single currency?

Nigerian Naira being counted  in an exchange office in Lagos.

Story highlights

  • Plans for a single currency in West Africa have been under discussion for two decades
  • The initiative could lower barriers to trade in the region
  • States would have to overhaul their economies to participate

Tahiru Azaaviele Liedong is assistant professor of strategy at the University of Bath. The views expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer. CNN is showcasing the work of The Conversation, a collaboration between journalists and academics to provide news analysis and commentary. The content is produced solely by The Conversation.

(CNN)It's been nearly two decades since the idea of a single currency for West Africa was first mooted. Yet the sub-region is still far from having a common legal tender. What is ordinarily a good idea seems to have fizzled into a fantasy.

Now, the story is that the single currency has been scheduled for 2020. But there is skepticism about the prospects of this coming to pass, especially at a time when economic blocks like the European Union are struggling.
    The decision to create a single monetary zone for West Africa was reached by the heads of state of 15 member countries at a summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the region's economic commission, in Lome, Togo in 1999.
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