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Is Africa an Optimum Currency Area? A Comparison of Macroeconomic Costs and Benefits

Listed author(s):
  • Georgios Karras

This article examines the macroeconomic costs and benefits of adopting a common currency for 37 African countries. Economic theory suggests that the main benefit is enhanced price stability, whereas the main cost is higher business-cycle volatility if the member country's output is not sufficiently correlated with Africa's as a whole. Using data from 1960 to 2000, the article finds that the estimated cost and benefit measures exhibit substantial variability across the countries and are sometimes positively correlated: countries (such as Uganda, Ghana and Guinea) that have a lot to gain from a monetary union, also have a lot to lose from it; whereas other economies (such as Morocco, Cote d'Ivoire and Gabon) that have little to lose by adopting a common African currency, have also little to gain by it. The empirical results can also be used to compare net benefits for individual countries, showing, for example, that Nigeria is a more promising candidate for membership in an African monetary union than Kenya, and that Zambia is an unambiguously better candidate than either Benin or Mauritius. Copyright 2007, Oxford University Press.

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Article provided by Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE) in its journal Journal of African Economies.

Volume (Year): 16 (2007)
Issue (Month): 2 (March)
Pages: 234-258

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Handle: RePEc:oup:jafrec:v:16:y:2007:i:2:p:234-258
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