UPDATE 1-West African BCEAO cbank keeps key rate unchaged at 2.50 pct

miércoles 4 de junio de 2014 10:25 GYT

(Adds quote from cbank governor, growth data, background)

DAKAR, June 4 (Reuters) - The central bank of the eight nation West African franc zone (BCEAO) kept its prime lending rate unchanged at 2.50 percent on Wednesday and lowered its growth forecast for 2014.

The bank has kept the rate unchanged since September when it cut the rate by 25 basis points.

"The central bank's rates are among the lowest in Africa. We think that the rates are very compatible with the financing needs of our economies," said BCEAO Governor Tiemoko Meyliet Kone, commenting on the decision.

The bank said that GDP growth for the eight countries was set to be 6.6 percent in 2014 versus 5.5 percent in 2013.

The forecast represents a downwards revision from the 7 percent estimate given by the bank in December.

BCEAO serves francophone Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo plus Portuguese-speaking Guinea-Bissau, with total economic output estimated at around $80 billion a year.

The economic heavyweight for the region is cocoa producer Ivory Coast. (Reporting by Diadie Ba; Writing by Emma Farge; Editing by Bate Felix)