ABUJA - A planned common currency for 15 western Africa states boasting a market of 385 million people that will come to force next year will be known as the ECO.

Leaders of the member states of the Economic Community of West African States, known as ECOWAS, formally agreed on the name at the end of a summit in Abuja Nigeria.

The single currency is expected to boost cross border trade between Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.

Eight ECOWAS countries - Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo - currently use the CFA franc but the other seven have own currencies that are not freely convertible.

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