The above topic would have been framed as "The Role of the 2020 ECOWAS Common currency in the fate of the Ghanaian". One could also put the above as "The ECOWAS Common Currency in overcoming the core Economic Challenges of Ghana". It will not be out of place to say "The Introduction of the ECOWAS Currency in 2020 to make the Ghanaian Globally Competitve". Last but not the least is "the Introduction of the ECOWAS Common Currency in 202 to End Complication of Business in West Africa".
What is certain above is, the Ghanaian and Ghana are all active participants in the global economic struggle, in which they are disadvantaged by obvious lack of the appropriate capability to compete effectively for a fair share of the global resources. The Economic realities of the Ghanaian and Ghana, as reflected by the value command of the Ghanaian official sovereign currency, is a perfect reflection of the type of the gloomy economic realities face by these victims. The government and people of Ghana face each day struggling just to make ends meet. In most cases, they live at the mercy of fellow sovereign economies, outside West Africa, whose capabilities give them advantage while the Ghanaian is the disadvantaged.
The Ghanaian and Ghana, are not the only victim of global economic challenge but, all the fifteen countries of West Africa suffer the same fate. This mean the whole of the economies of West Africa suffer the same foundamentail fate. This also mean, there is a very strong connectivity among the West African economies, enough to make an economic challenge of any one of them to have an impact on the rest of the West African economies.
Somewhere last month, our president His excellency Nana Ado Dankwa Akufo Addo addressed the United Nations General Assembly. In his speech, our president told the world about Ghana's intention to take our socio-economic destiny into our hands. Another West head of state, President Mohamadu Buhari said basically the same thing to the rest of the world. Ex-president John Dramani Mahama would have told the UN Assembly exactly what Nana Addo was heard saying if he had lost the election and continued as the president of Ghana. In fact, some of us who are use to the usual trend of hopeful but helpless presidential speeches at the UN Assembly, will not be surprise by what we heard. In West Africa, some of us are doubting whether our representatives are speaking from the heart or from the eyes. The fact is, there is a huge difference between what are contain in the speeches and what turn out to be the realities.
It is sad that most of us do not listen to the West African French speaking heads of states as they address the same UN General Assembly, mostly due to language barrier and our socio-psychological barriers. In going over most of what these fellow West African heads say to the world on YouTube, one then start realizing that we share the same fate in West Africa. Our common economic fate that affect almost every way of lives, is what we hopelessly mourn about annually at the UN General Summit. The truth is, no one is interested in our pathetic complains and hopelessness, as we are independent sovereign nations with all right to self determined how we are going about our destiny.
In addressing the issues challenging our common economies, the role of money is very critical. This means, we need to establish a common regional currency, controlled by our regional authority, for us to deal with the core causes of our economic challenges together. This concerns is not new to anyone in West Africa and for this reason, the idea of introducing a common currency has been our aim.
We started this effort in 1994 when we first start the effort of introducing a common currency for our people across the ECOWAS. One of our motivation is the visible determination of the EU to introduce the Euro. We identify the fact that the French and Portuguese speaking countries of West Africa already have the CEFA as their common currency that was doing very well. This common currency was serving its users very well, except the control of the West African currency is by France. Given the fact that the CEFA countries enjoy more relative stability than their Anglo West African counter parts, the consensus was to experiment with the five speaking English speaking countries whose currencies are all different and therefore weak. Of course, it is not in the interest of ECOWAS to adopt the CEFA as the currency belongs to the French sovereign authority.
With the above understanding, the eight French speaking and two Portugese speaking West African ECOWAS states continued with the French CEFA while the five English speaking country set up the West African Monetary Institute to get them spend the common ECOWAS currency called the ECO.
The future of the ECO remain more unrealistic than ever as the West African are yet to have regional MPs who are to be directly elected, to assume the legistive power of making regional wide laws that will make it possible for the ECOWAS authority to be capable of controlling all the ECOWAS member states. So, at the moment, the decision of what to do about the various West African currencies to meet up with the expected economic standards, are totally in the hands of the ailing economies themselves who are to be redeemed from their woes. This is like leaving primary school children who are expected to learn for their exams on their own, while the teacher is as good as a drunkered. Surely such pupils will play away the time and end up failing. Instead of the ECOWAS authority ensuring that each member state comply with certain standards backed up fiscal sanctions to meet up with the common expectations, the countries do as they please. So, none is actually serious about meeting any condition as they sink deeper into economic and fiscal state of indisciplined.
Money, is a very important instrument in the life of man, especially the modern man. Money is one of the key tool by which government control its economy. So when a people are struggling with economic challenges, a state employ its montary regulation mechanism in addressing the challenge. Money is the tool by which the state indirectly tell its citizens to do more of one thing and less of other things, with maximum effect, without directly telling people what to do. Money allow the individual to make effective decisions beyond his or her imagination, thereby freeing the individual memory bank of clogged up dreams, waiting to be effected. Money helps those with good heart to show their love ones affection beyond mere verbal emotions. Money, they say "makes the world go round", without which the world come to a stand still and crumble over the shoulder of the bearer. Money allow an individual to push their potentials to their limit while allowing each person a form of self justification for their natural limitations. Finally, money is what give us certain sense of security that problems are temporary, as anyone is willing to help, if their service can be appreciated by payment.
Money is therefore too important, for any group of people who want to control their destiny, not to have control of their money. Since the control of money starts with vivid knowledge of what money is, it is in our best interest to start knowing what exactly is money? There are several academic definition of this item but my definition will be "Money is a mere paper of sovereign instruction, issued to the bearer by the state, to effect transaction with anyone who recognise the sovereign authority of the guarantor, in exchange for an intended value".
So, the sovereign authority makes the money item available to the worthy members of its public through the state's established institution, on the assumption that whoever is in possession of such money, has earn the right to possession by a value earlier given or potentially inherent. The bearer who naturally need other value to function and sustain it survival, then approach others whose value the bearer want for its survival, to exchange his or her money for the needed values. Each person is therefore running after value and creating value in exchange, as the condition of being in possession of money, while money facilitate and legitimise the exchange.
It's important to add that everyone of us, as individual or group, are dependant on value for our survival and each of us is, equally a potential creator of value. In this sense, we all naturally need values and therefore need money to facilitate the exchange of these values. This has been the reality of man as he become more modern and urbanised. This has made our lives more dynamic and transaction less cumbersome. Money thus remove us from some of the challenging environment where some of these values are created, as it makes the values available to us, in more healthy environments, like super stores. Money makes it easy for us to eat without necessarily living on a farm or being farmers, just as it allow the farmer to seek for service of the medical doctor without directly handing over the farm product.
The key element of money is trust. Thus one need to have unconditional trust in the item of money he or she is taking possession of. Equally, no rational person will hand over his or her money to, without first trusting the individual. Money extend this element of trust beyond those immediately involve in a transaction. So for any transaction taking place, the buyer, the seller and the authority have to be effectively participate for a transaction to the completed. After all, any transaction is a form of agreement among the participants. Money therefore represent the state in any transaction and, who can best be the witness to any transaction in a state, than the state itself? After all, if the transaction or agreement become contentious, it is the state that act as the authority to effect the settlement of dispute to be binding on all the participants. Money can therefore be said to be a personify representation of the state in a transaction.
If we are having two or more parties to engage in a transaction that involve a witness, who can best represent the interest of the state enought to command respect and trust than the money produce by the state? All citizens are naturally subjects of their state and if anyone must act as an authority of trust among all citizens, who must this be than the state? This then tell us all why several members of the ECOWAS states assume the role of producing their respective currencies on the assumption of independence.
The assumption is each of the independent West African country will be truly independent enough to manage its own affairs. The reality is, most or all could not. Independent understood as "self determination" that is incomplete without a nation having total control of its currency, is not the case in West Africa.
With ten of the West African States using currency own by France and the currencies of the five English speaking states worsening by day, the clear indication is, an authority other than any of these fifteen ECOWAS state has to step in, to assume the control of all the currencies the West African countries. In making independent to mean what it says, the West Africans created ECOWAS to assume the role of controlling their common currency, named the "ECO".
The above is becoming urgent by day as everyone of the fifteen West African state resort to the use of the United States of American dollar or European Union's Euro, for transactions across West Africa. In fact most West African States have the US dollar and the EU Euro circulating within their domestic economies, than their national currencies. State government officials transact in dollar and Euro, in their daily domestic activities within West Africa. Trust in our own currencies are dying, as our economies lost their global and domestic respect. Hotels feel normal to charge individual rent in dollar and Euro. Even our local landlord and schools, charge their local tenants and students in dollar or Euro. The manner by which our banks treat the dollar or dollar account holder, is just strange. School fees for toddlers in kindergarten in Ghana and other ECOWAS states, are charge in dollar or Euro. Our banks do not accept currencies from their fellow ECOWAS states because such money does not worth the paper on which they are printed.
One thing certain is, every sensible person in ECOWAS is well aware of this challenge. We have made efforts to have this single currency in ECOWAS to be operational, to allow us overcome this common problem. It is sad we have prospone the implementation of the ECOWAS single currency for over five times, and the reasons are obvious. We, the people of ECOWAS are the first type of human beings in a union of several sovereign entities, who are introducing a common currency, without first having our people to vote directly for their regional law makers. In fact, some will even say that the attempt to have a common regional currency without first directly elected regional law makers to make laws that will be regulating the currency was for the project to fail.
The big question we seem not to be trying to answer is, what law is going to control our common currency and give it the legitimacy needed to command both internal and external respect? So if we have chosen not to directly elect regional law makers to make law that will be regulating the common currency we are introducing, then how are we going to ensue all challenges to be counter by the existence of the currency are regulated? Are we not going to end up with crisis of economies in which states, institutions and individuals, will do as they please, at the expense of the rest who are entrapped with them in a common currency?
Our counter parts in the EU are proving that a common currency is achievable and highly beneficial if successful. The same EU is also informing us that the ECOWAS authority, will be stronger in playing the role of ensuring all member state commit themselves to the common regional fiscal policies and regulations, if the regional electorates are allowed to directly elect the members of their regional parliament.
The year 2020 is just around the corner. Like other set dates that have come and gone without any serious implementation of the ECO, majority of the decent citizens of West Africans can not afford to see the date 2020 pass and another future 2025 date set by some few faceless people who set dates over a cup of coffee in posh hotels. First thing, they say, first. The laws made by the directly elected ECOWAS members of parliament precede the introduction of the common currency. Since the laws come first, to reinforce the authority of regulating body to be responsible for the money to be introduce or be the one to introduce the money, we must be very democratically militant with our demand to have our own right to vote for our regional MPs.
Before I draw this writing to a conclusion, we must not allow a common currency that will be control by the IMF (International Monetary Fund) under the guise of ECOWAS. As we hear people telling us that they are introducing a common regional currency without the people voting directly for their regional law makers to make laws that will regulate our common economy, I smell rat. Who ever control our regional or national currency, will control our economy, translating the whole scheme into regional economic slavery. The USA had it common currency control for years from Europe until Abraham Lincoln ended the common financial slavery. Mr. Lincoln question why the USA Federal reserve should be control by the Europeans banks when the American call himself freed. Ours turning up the same, is not necessary, as we have that lesson to learn from others' history.
In our desperation for freedom, we must be wiser enough to avoid jumping from one form of slavery to another. ECOWAS is destined to work, as we have the EU that is going through the same experience, for us to keep up with. We must not allow ourselves to be left behind. Our destiny lies in our hand but not when we sit unconcern. Please, let's believe in ourselves, for we have greater height to reach.
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Kofi Ali Abdul-Yekin
(ECOWAS Citizens Right Advocates)
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