Assessing pathways to greater economic integration in West Africa
Leaders of the fifteen-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had set a goal of achieving a monetary and currency union by late 2020. The COVID pandemic and the lack of macroeconomic convergence among member countries precipitated a postponement of this goal. As this book shows, a currency union could offer many potential benefits but would also come with significant costs, along with operational challenges and transitional risks.
This book, by two leading experts on economics and Africa, makes a major analytical contribution to the debates now under way about how ECOWAS could achieve greater trade and financial integration, with or without a currency union, and the ramifications for the African continent.
Praise for Regional Integration in West Africa
“Currency unions are as much political projects as economic ones, and the ECOWAS proposal is no exception. As Prasad and Songwe lay out in this valuable book, successfully establishing and maintaining a single currency requires convergence and coordination across a broad range of economic policies, a challenge made harder by the divergence in size and structure of the ECOWAS economies. The lessons they draw should be of interest to policymakers and students alike.”
—Masood Ahmed, President, Center for Global Development
“This highly readable book illuminates Africa’s currency question and its contribution to trade and development. The conclusions are convincing and could open a discussion on aspects of currency management in West Africa that have been taken for granted by policymakers over the past 70 years.”
—Kofi Adjepong-Boateng, Research Associate, University of Cambridge Centre for Financial History
“The two eminently qualified authors conclude that, while West African states do not currently fulfill the prerequisites for a currency union, a single currency could still help in attaining the region’s full potential if leaders can find the resolve to implement necessary reforms.”
—Jeffrey Frankel, Harpel Professor of Capital Formation and Growth, Kennedy School, Harvard University
Eswar Prasad is the Tolani Senior Professor of Trade Policy and professor of economics at Cornell University. He holds the New Century Chair in International Trade and Economics at the Brookings Institution and is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Vera Songwe is a United Nations under-secretary-general and executive secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa. She is a nonresident senior fellow with the Africa Growth Initiative at the Brookings Institution. Previously she was regional director of the International Finance Corporation, covering West and Central Africa, and was a country director at the World Bank.