#Article (Archive)

A tough job at hand

Aug 18, 2016, 9:21 AM

The West African Monetary Agency (WAMA) has got a new head to steer the affairs of the Agency.

This is no other than our own Gambian compatriot Momodou Bamba Saho, who was Governor of the Central Bank of The Gambia before he took up international appointments and became IMF representative for Anglophone countries in Africa.

So we must first of all congratulate Mr Saho for the new appointment to serve as head of WAMA, which is in charge of overseeing the planning and smooth implementation of a single currency for West Africa.

WAMA is an autonomous and specialised agency of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). It was institutionalised in 1996 as a result of the transformation of the West African Clearing House (WACH) established in 1975 to serve as a multilateral payment facility to promote trade within the West African sub-region.

“In addition to its functions of routing and clearing trade transactions and services, the Agency has been charged with the responsibility of monitoring, coordinating and implementing the ECOWAS Monetary Cooperation Programme (EMCP), geared towards the creation of the ECOWAS single currency,” according to ECOWAS.

The Agency has the objective of promoting the use of national currencies in trade and non-trade transactions within the sub-region; bringing about savings in the use of member states’ foreign reserves; encouraging and promoting trade and exchange liberalization among member states; enhancing monetary cooperation and consultation among member states; facilitating the harmonisation of and coordination of monetary, as well as fiscal policies and structural adjustment programmes; ensuring the monitoring, coordination and implementation of the ECOWAS Monetary Cooperation Programme; initiating and promoting policies and programmes relating to monetary integration in the sub-region; and, to ensure the establishment of a single monetary zone in West Africa, thereby paving the way for the eventual conduct of a single monetary policy and the establishment of a single currency.

We have no doubt in Mr Saho’s ability and capability in steering the affairs of this body, as he has ably performed in such a capacity in his tenure as governor of the Central Bank of The Gambia, which paved the way for him to attain international appointment as the Alternative Executive Director to the IMF, and became its Executive Director from 2012 to 2014.

One of his tough tasks though is in treading the path of achieving a single currency for West Africa. 

Achieving or attaining a single currency for West Africa has been a herculean task over the years. This is due to several factors bedeviling the introduction of a common currency in the West African Monetary Zone. These could actually be placed under two broad categories: political and economic challenge.

The political will of leaders of the zone towards achieving a single currency has been questionable.

While some leaders in the zone are making earnest efforts at transforming their ailing economies to meet the convergence criteria for introduction of the common currency, others are lackadaisical in their approach to meeting the targets set out by the zone.

On the economic front, factors like inflation, import bill, balance of payments, and increasing interest rates on debt burden are frustrating efforts at arriving at a common ground for member states to introduce a common currency.

These are real issues that need to be addressed, and it takes the concerted efforts of our heads of state, ECOWAS economic decision makers and financial technocrats to manage our economies so as we are able to attain the common convergence criteria that will permit us to introduce a single currency for the zone.

Momodou Bamba Saho could well be able to steer the WAMA ship to that point and, even more, if given the necessary support.

“You can do anything as long as you have the passion, the drive, the focus, and the support. ”

Sabrina Bryan