Cross-border co-operation potential of West Africa
One out of five West Africans, or 72 million people, live within 50 km of the region’s 32 000 km of land borders. These border areas are often hubs of formal and informal activity for the circulation of goods and people, and hold significant potential for cross-border co-operation. Based on seven indicators of regional integration – covering a wide range of economic, environmental, political and social issues – this map aims to measure the potential of cross-border co-operation across West Africa. The mapping of the combined potential confirms the spatial heterogeneity of the region as the thick lines are unevenly distributed throughout the territory. The southern areas of the Sahel and the boundaries between Ghana, Togo and Benin are characterised by a high co-operation potential overall, due to the abundance of border markets with high populations. Many areas also often share water, as well as agricultural and pastoral resources, which promotes the establishment of cross-border production and commercialisation channels. These areas also often benefit from being relatively homogenous linguistically and politically stable. Poverty gaps are average, rather than very high or very low, which can promote synergies and movement between countries. The Sahelo-Saharan zones are, in general, those with the least potential, especially those struggling with security issues such as the Mali-Niger zone due to its low population, scarce agricultural resources and political instability.