West African States

The West African States Monetary Union comprises eight independent states in West Africa: Benin, Burkina Faso, the Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire), Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo. The West African CFA franc (XOF) is the currency of the West African Monetary Union and is circulated by the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO, Banque Central des Estates de l’Afrique de l’Ouest). The West African CFA franc is of equal value to the Central African CFA franc. 

The West African Monetary Union is limited only to the eight primarily Francophone countries that use the CFA franc as their common currency. The Liptako-Gourma Authority of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger seeks to develop the contiguous areas of the three countries jointly. Meanwhile, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is a regional political and economic union that seeks to achieve “collective self-sufficiency” for its member states. The members of ECOWAS include the eight members of the West African Monetary Union, Cape Verde, the Gambia, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Ghana, and Nigeria. In 2019, ECOWAS proposed to reform the currency of its members into one common currency, the eco. It is said that this plan will be fully implemented in 2027. 

The West African States have had remarkable economic growth in the past 20 years. In 2018, the region was home to six of the top 10 fastest-growing economies in Africa: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Niger, and Senegal. However, for most countries, the perks of this unprecedented economic growth went to a diminutive few. Today, the rich have become richer while the poor have grown even poorer. The region also has the least public health care coverage and the least population with a decent education and access to water. 

According to the World Bank, the Western Africa subregion is projected to grow at 5.0 % in 2023 and 5.6% in 2024. Many countries in the region are set to recover from repercussions due to the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and intense weather conditions. 

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