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West African nations review single currency option

Abuja,(Xinhua) Ministers of finance and governors of central banks of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have agreed to commission a study on the most feasible option for the introduction of a single currency in the sub-region, media reported Monday.

The ministers at the ECOWAS’ convergence council meeting also resolved to fix a workable timetable for the takeoff of the single currency policy.

They said the continuous delay of its introduction was weighing heavily on the industrial growth of the sub-region.

The Convergence Council meeting was called by the ECOWAS Commission in response to the directive of heads of state and government at their June 15 summit in the Nigerian capital for a single approach to monetary integration instead of the current two-track initiative.

The two-track system involves the introduction of a second currency, the ECO, in Jan 2009 by the five member states of Ghana, Guinea, Gambia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, to run concurrently with the CFA used by eight other member states during an interim period. The two systems will then merge to create a single currency.

A technical group has already recommended the “critical mass” option under which monetary union will start in December 2009, subject to the satisfaction of the convergence criteria by a group of countries that constitute at least 75 percent of the regional gross domestic product (GDP).