The recently concluded 7th Ghana International Trade & Finance Conference (GITFiC2023), held at the prestigious Royal Senchi Hotel & Resort in Ghana, has urged African nations to embrace monetary integration. Renowned as a gathering of industry experts, policymakers, and academics, the conference centred around the theme, “Sovereign Economic Vulnerabilities; An Endorsement For A Single Currency for Africa,” with the aim of fostering discussions on advancing the ideals of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Under the astute chairmanship of Ing. Ken Arthur, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Volta River Authority (VRA), GITFiC2023 witnessed the participation of high-level dignitaries and key stakeholders from various sectors within the trade and finance ecosystem. The event highlighted the commitment of the Ghana International Trade & Finance Conference (GITFIC) to provide a vital platform for policymakers and duty-bearers to address the multifaceted challenges plaguing trade and finance across the African continent.
In his address, Selasi Koffi Ackom, CEO of GITFIC, emphasized the significant strides made by the conference in promoting AfCFTA since its inception in 2019. He reiterated GITFIC’s dedication to facilitating deliberations and proposing implementable solutions to overcome the obstacles hindering African trade and finance.
A key focus of the conference was the importance of a single currency for Africa, particularly in light of the establishment of a common trading market through AfCFTA. Participants engaged in presentations and panel sessions, delving into the perspectives of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU) regarding the necessity and potential benefits of a unified African currency.
Notable speakers included Dr Dossina Yeo, an Immediate Past Director for Economic Development Trade and Integration at the African Union, who shed light on the AU’s plans and modalities for implementing an African Central Bank and a Single African Currency. John Kotoku, representing the Director General of the West African Monetary Institute (WAMI), highlighted the achievements of WAMI in pursuing the ECO as a common currency for ECOWAS member states, underscoring the challenges encountered due to unmet convergence criteria.
During the final day of the conference, two-panel sessions were dedicated to the promotion of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and the Protocol on Dispute Settlement Mechanism (DSM). Dr Kenji Ajoku, the Immediate Past Head of the Industry Directorate for ECOWAS, shared insights into the West Africa Industrial Policy (WACIP) formulated by ECOWAS in 2010, underscoring its objectives.
The conference’s participants recognized that a single currency for Africa could substantially reduce trade transaction costs, mitigate exchange rate volatility, address financial market imbalances, and enhance the mobility of production factors. However, concerns were raised regarding the geopolitical structure of Africa and the need for a stronger commitment from African nations to meet the fundamental conditions required for monetary convergence.
In light of these deliberations, the conference recommended that the African Union enhances its support to Regional Monetary Institutes, fostering research on strategic directions and drawing lessons from existing Monetary Unions like WAEMU and CEMAC. Additionally, participants urged Regional Economic Communities to maintain an unwavering commitment to unified monetary integration, leading to the adoption of a common currency within each economic zone, eventually culminating in a unified African currency.
GITFiC2023 attracted delegations from prominent institutions such as the West African Monetary Institute (WAMI), ECOWAS, the African Union (AU), and various governmental bodies including the Volta River Authority (VRA), Ghana Free Zones Authority (GFZA), Ghana International Trade Commission (GITC), and other key private institutions operating in the realms of trade, business, finance, and logistics.
As the conference drew to a close, it became evident that GITFiC2023 had provided a pivotal platform for driving dialogue and emphasizing the pressing need for African nations to unite under a single currency. By harnessing the potential of monetary integration, Africa stands poised to overcome economic vulnerabilities and foster a new era of sustainable growth and prosperity.