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West, Central African Banks Mull Unifying Francs to Boost Trade

Dec. 18 (Bloomberg) -- The central banks of West and Central Africa are considering combining their currencies, according to Lucas Abaga Nchama, governor of the Bank of Central African States.

The West African and Central African CFA francs are currently separate currencies that are both pegged to the euro. Merging them would boost trade and help fight money laundering, Nchama said in comments broadcast on Radio Malabo, the state broadcaster for Equatorial Guinea.

The franc zone covers 14 African countries, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo.

Six other West African nations -- Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Guinea and Liberia -- plan to enact a common currency, known as the Eco, by January 2015, 12 years behind an initial target, Temitope Oshikoya, chief executive officer of the West African Monetary Institute, said in an interview in November last year.

The Eco target was pushed back as countries continued to fail to meet standards including single-digit inflation, a budget deficit of not more than 4 percent of gross domestic product excluding grants, and central bank reserves of not less than three months of import cover, according to Oshikoya.

To contact the reporter on this story: Antoine Lawson in Libreville at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Vernon Wessels at

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