At a meeting with Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, new chairman of ECOWAS, Accra, Ghana, September 2020
Francis Kokoroko / Reuters

Over a decade ago, the leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a regional trade bloc of 15 countries with a total population of roughly 400 million, committed to establishing a monetary and currency union by the end of 2020. In other words, they agreed to renounce monetary sovereignty and adopt a common currency managed by a single central bank. Eliminating multiple currencies, they believed, would dismantle barriers to the flow of goods, money, and people and lay the foundations for greater prosperity. Ultimately, they hoped their regional monetary organization might blaze a trail to an Africa-wide currency union that

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