The West African Monetary Agency (WAMA) is an autonomous and specialised agency of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). It was established in 1996 as a result of the transformation of the West African Clearing House (WACH). In retrospect, WACH was established in 1975 to serve as a multilateral payment facility to promote trade within the West African sub-region. In addition to its functions of routing and clearing trade transactions and services, the Agency has been charged with the responsibility of monitoring, coordinating and implementing the ECOWAS Monetary Cooperation Programme (EMCP), geared towards the creation of the ECOWAS single currency.
The Agency has the objective of promoting the use of national currencies in trade and non-trade transactions within the sub-region bringing about savings in the use of member States’ foreign reserves, encouraging and promoting trade and exchange liberalization among member States, enhancing monetary cooperation and consultation among member States, facilitating the harmonisation of and coordination of monetary as well as fiscal policies and structural adjustment programs; ensuring the monitoring, coordination and implementation of the ECOWAS Monetary Cooperation Program, initiating and promoting policies and programmes relating to monetary integration in the sub-region and to ensure the establishment of a single monetary zone in West Africa thereby paving the way for the eventual conduct of a single monetary policy and the establishment of a single currency.
Objectives of WAMA
- Defining policies and programmes to promote monetary and fiscal harmonisation and cooperation;
- Serving as a channel for clearing and settlement as a channel for clearing and settlement transactions among member Central Banks;
- Managing the ECOWAS Credit Guarantee Fund Scheme;
- Undertaking studies on issues relating to monetary and fiscal cooperation and all other international economic issues affecting member States;
- Collecting, storing and disseminating statistical information for member Central Banks
Although WAMA is an organ of ECOWAS, it is placed under the authority of the Committee of Governors of member Central Banks. However, ECOWAS and WAMA maintain close working relations through meetings of mutual interest in addition to meeting reports being reciprocally exchanged between the institutions. WAMA also maintains close collaboration with other international organisations such as the West African Bankers’ Association (WABA), the international Monetary Fund (IMF), African Development Bank (ADB), Association of African Central Banks (AACB) and the World Bank.