To achieve economic integration in the Economic Communities of West African States (ECOWAS) region, priority should be given to well-integrated monetary and fiscal policies, the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, has said.
Mr Adesina who spoke on Tuesday in Abuja at the Presidential Villa said other issues critical for regional integration include adequate infrastructure and the ability to address the insecurity in the region.
He described the establishment of a unified single currency, “ECO”, for ECOWAS as a “great idea”, saying the AfDB will strongly support a unified currency regime.
“It makes common sense to have a unified currency, the ECO. I support ECO greatly. I think it’s a great idea to do,” he said.
However, he said, there were a number of convergent criteria the ECOWAS authorities would have to meet for the region to be fully integrated.
These criteria include the resolution of how to establish well-integrated monetary and fiscal policies within the region, as a prelude to other issues.
“As President of the African Development Bank, the issues critical for regional integration are those of infrastructure, monetary policy and how to ensure the region is able to address the challenge of insecurity, which our president has been leading the effort to tackle within the region,” he said.
On insecurity, Mr Adesina said a number of issues, including climate change, constitute the problem the region is currently facing.
While commending President Muhammadu Buhari for his leadership in tackling the shrinking Lake Chad, the AfDB President said the area, which used to be very big in the past, is today much smaller due to the impact of climate change.
The development, he said, is impacting the livelihood of millions of people in the area, arguing that it would be difficult to divorce terrorism from climate change, which has triggered a high level of structural poverty in neigbhouring countries.
“I think they are trying to tackle that. President Buhari has put forward a very bold decision to help with the recharging of the Lake Chad Basin and I have told him he has my support and that of the African Development Bank in being able to recharge the Lake Chad Basin,” he said.
On the contributions of the bank, Mr Adesina said the AfDB has done a lot in the Northeastern region of the country, including the provision of about $250 million to support the basic livelihoods of the people, rebuilding schools, provision of water, sanitation, skills and jobs in areas needed.
He noted the effort by the Heads of State of the ECOWAS to set up a billion-dollar fund to help tackle the insecurity in the region, adding that the AfDB will help to structure the fund, to realize its objectives.
Earlier, Mr Adesina said he was at the villa to congratulate President Buhari on his recent election as the chairman of the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government.
He said Mr Buhari’s emergence as the chairman of the regional body was very crucial for the region’s economic integration.