Economic Activity in ECOWAS Member States Continued to Improve -WAMA Director General

End of Year Statutory Meetings of WAMA, WAMI, WAIFEM

February 6th-14th 2020

The Director General of the West African Monetary Agency (WAMA) Mr. Momodou Bamba Saho has stated that the economic activities in ECOWAS Member States generally continued to improve in 2019, in spite of the global economic slowdown.

He made this statement on Thursday February 6th 2020 at the Freetown International Conference Center Aberdeen, during the opening session of the 36th ordinary meeting of the Joint Technical Committee of the West African Monetary Agency (WAMA). He further stated that they are holding these meetings against the backdrop of continued economic recovery in the region.

“The region is home to some of the fastest growing economies in the world. Three Member States, Benin (7.6%), Cote d’lvoire (7.5%) and Ghana (7.1%) grew by over 7.0 percent in 2019. Twelve Member States are expected to grow by 5.0 percent or more in 2019.” he said.

According to him, in the area of compliance with the macroeconomic convergence criteria, Member States made some progress in the first half of 2019 as six (06) met all the four primary criteria compared to five (05) in the first half of 2018, adding that performance is expected to improve in the second half of the year as eight (08) Member States are projected meet all the primary criteria at end-2019 compared to only two (02) at end-2018.

He however, stated that all the four primary convergence criteria on a sustained basis has remained a difficult task as Member States find it challenging to consistently meet all four criteria over a period of several years.

“Although compliance with the convergence criteria has improved, Member States need to continue to strengthen policy implementation in order to comply with the convergence criteria and lay a strong basis for the establishment of monetary union,” he said.

In this regard, the Director General urged Member States to strengthen their resolve to maintain macroeconomic stability and put emphasis on economic diversification as well as structural reforms aimed at fostering private sector growth in order to realize the tremendous potential of the region and achieve the objective of the monetary corporation program.

The Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone Prof. Keifala Kallon said during the meetings, stocks will be taken of the status of implementation of the revised Roadmap activities, having in mind the commitments expressed by the Authority to establish a monetary union in 2020, noting that the decision regarding the selection of countries that would qualify for accession to the monetary union would be undertaken after an evaluation of the state of readiness of Member States.

“As we get closer to the decision points, I concede that this meeting is taking place at a period characterized by socio-political and economic developments and uncertainties, both global and domestic arena. The Director General of WAMA indicated that the global economy lost momentum in 2019, with output expanded by 2.9 percent, further down from the 3.6 percent growth recorded in 2018 and 3.8 percent in 2017,” he said.

He however stated that despite the continued slowdown in the global economy, economic activity in the Community continues to strengthen, noting that in effect, composite growth of the economies in the Community was estimated at 3.3 percent in 2019, up from the 3.0 percent expansion recorded in 2018 and 2.3 percent in 2017.

According to the Bank Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone, at the recent statutory meeting held in August 2019 in Conakry, he recounted the challenges Sierra Leone was grappling with, related especially to the subdued real sector activities, price instability, excesses in fiscal policy and external sector constraints.

Prior to the reviewing of Member States, the Bank Governor said that the macroeconomic fundamentals of Sierra Leone has improved modestly, since then, as a result of implementation of prudent policy measures that focused on promoting all-inclusive growth, restoring macroeconomic stability and debt sustainability through structural reforms, fiscal consolidation and a viable external sector.

“Consequently, real GDP growth accelerated to 5.1 percent in 2019, from 3.5 percent in 2018. Inflationary pressures also continued to trend downwards in the right direction to 13.9 percent at December 2019, after having peaked at 16.6 percent in April 2019,” he said.

During the end of year statutory meetings, several institutions within West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) are expected to have technical meetings followed by The 40th Meeting of the Committee of Central Bank Governors of the WAMZ, climax with the 43rd Meeting of the Convergence Council of Ministers and Governors which will be opening by the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio.

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