Accra, Dr Ernest Kwamina Yedu Addison, Governor of the Bank of Ghana, says a monetary Union is a critical component of regional integration and urged central banks and finance officials across West Africa to build a critical mass of experts in this area.
He said building a critical mass of experts was needed to enable the sub-region pick up its pace in its regional integration efforts.
He made the statements in a speech delivered on his behalf by Ms. Catherine Ashley, Advisor to the Bank of Ghana, at the opening of a regional course on financial and economic issues in regional integration in Accra on Wednesday.
The training was organised by the West African Institution for Financial and Economic Management (WAIFEM) in collaboration and with funding from the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF).
Dr Addison said in order to remain relevant in the global environment; the African continent must embrace regional economic integration in Africa, and to promote competitive and sustainable economic growth and development.
He noted that progressive integration followed successive stages; including the establishment of a free trade area, a custom union, and a common a market, which them mature into an economic and monetary union and finally, a political union.
African countries in recent years, have taken giant steps towards regional and economic integration, with the establishment of regional blocs like the East Africa Community, Economic Community of Central African States, ECOWAS, COMESA, and SADC among others, in a bid to harmonise and harness Africa’s economic potential.
A major challenge to economic integration, he said, was the relinquishment of nationalistic controls exercised by a sovereign economy but stressed that gains of economic integration from both internal and external economies of scale as well as increased competition and growth, far outweighed the loss of sovereignty.
Dr Addison bemoaned the lagging behind of Anglo West Africa in establishing a monetary union with a single currency as seen in francophone West African countries with the CFA zone, despite numerous efforts.
There have been several challenges ranging from lack of political commitment to more substantial issues of meeting the convergence criteria and harmonisation of policies and regulatory frameworks, which all are fundamental to successful integration, he stated
He noted that the pending issues that will cement the already existing close ties and firm up the regional integration process across West Africa include; harmonisation of monetary policy frameworks and establishment of a common currency, adoption of the principles of a free trading bloc among member states, linkage of electronic payment systems and linkage of financial markets across the sub-regions.
Professor Akpan H. Ekpo, Director General for West African Institution for Financial and Economic Management (WAIFEM), said the course was to broaden participants’ understanding of various aspects of economic, monetary and financial integration.
Themes to be discussed during the one-week course include an overview of financial and economic integration with case studies from other regions, requirements for economic and monetary integration, the convergence process in the sub-region, trade, financial and monetary integration, political economy aspects of integration and challenges of integration of capital markets among others.
He noted that the challenging themes selected for the group work exercise will give participants the opportunity to explore the issues, particularly those which have been illusive over the years.
The course will be facilitated by a team of experts and practitioners from the region, as well as WAIFEM faculty.
Source: Ghana News Agency