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Improving the perspective for regional trade and investment in West Africa: the key to food security, economic development and stability in the region

Scoping report

July 2016

Lange, P., Dietz, T., Rau, M.-L. (With J. van Seters, C. Torres, P. Engel, W. Hennen, R. Ruben, E. de Roos and U. Oberst). 2016. Improving the perspective for regional trade and investment in West Africa: the key to food security, economic development and stability in the region. (Scoping report). The Hague: Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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Increasing concern about instability, population pressure, migration and chronic food insecurity in West Africa and growing awareness of the potential of enhanced intraregional trade and investment to contribute to sustainable and inclusive economic development, has prompted a number of donors including The Netherlands to increase their efforts to support West African integration and cooperation.

Notwithstanding the persisted challenges to regionalism in West Africa, the momentum for support seems to have been strengthened in recent years driven by key initiatives such as the African Union Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihood and the Abuja Process, building on increasing political commitment within the region, which was followed by increased commitments through UEMOA and ECOWAS frameworks and in particular the recent conclusion of the ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET).

Support for regional integration and cooperation in West Africa by The Netherlands fits well within its policy framework for Aid, Trade and Investment and aligns with key Dutch policy objectives to promote sustainable and inclusive economic development and to enhance food security. Furthermore, there is increased interest of Dutch businesses to invest in and trade with West Africa and growing recognition of the opportunities for Dutch businesses, knowledge institutes and civil society to contribute to sustainable development in West Africa.

In order for support to regional integration and cooperation in West Africa to be effective and calibrated to the specific needs of the region, there is a need to build a more comprehensive understanding of the diverse and complex regional dynamics and to gain insight into the opportunities and challenges to regional integration in West Africa.

Commissioned by the Food & Business Knowledge Platform, the overall objective of the study underlying this scoping report was to contribute a more contextualized comprehensive picture of The Netherlands’ government ongoing cooperation with West Africa and the perspective in terms of policy options for strengthening its effectiveness and coherence by giving more emphasis to the promotion of intraregional trade and investment.

The study has been carried out by a consortium of knowledge institutes comprised of the African Studies Centre Leiden (ASCL), the Agro-Economic Research Institute of the Wageningen University and Research (LEI-WUR) and the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM).

See also the annotated bibliography.


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Photo: Women at the Gouro market. Credits: ENSEA.

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Food SecurityContributing DocumentAgricultureTradeWest Africa