This article is part of our #FirstWord series to provide context on trending news.
President Muhammadu Buhari has departed Abuja for Lome, the Republic of Togo, to participate in two high-level meetings with ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States).
According to a statement by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, the President will have an interactive session with the Nigerian community in Togo at the Nigerian embassy.
What is the summit about?
The summit is going to consciously discuss security problems and threats within countries in West Africa. Members of the ECCAS (Economic Community of Central African States) will also be present to discuss how to forge ahead regarding security.
More than anything else, the session will be filled with talks on political situations in Mali, Togo and Guinea Bissau. There will also be questions and conversations around institutional reforms of the ECOWAS, illegal migrations of Africans to Europe and violent clashes between herders and farmers.
According to President Buhari, “terrorism transcends international boundaries, and no country can combat the scourge alone”. He is right, and his statement echoes the relevance of the summit.
While in Lome, President Buhari and his delegation will also participate in a meeting on a single currency for West African countries with the deadline of 2020.
A currency union, like the one President Buhari and other African leaders, are gunning for is likely to affect regional trade. A single currency will make transborder transactions smooth. And considering that the volatility of currency exchange will be minimised, the single currency will better help business planning across West African regions.
On the flip side, there's a possibility this will be stalled. Member countries are just too different from one another. This difference already creates a challenge in achieving union-wide equilibrium. Few Nigerians, for example, know what the Guinean economy looks like. The French-speaking country has a GDP of around $7bn, less than Nigeria's 13th largest state, Abia, with $8.7bn. This difference makes sensible uniform policy very difficult.
Evidently, these challenges and possibilities will be explored during the Summit.
Considering the summit is going to be laced with a lot of important conversations that will be potentially beneficial to Nigeria, and Africa at large, it seems like a fantastic initiative.