Global and regional options for industrialisation strategies

To accelerate their industrialisation in the face of tough global competition, West African countries must leverage their comparative and competitive advantages. Several strategies are available to them. The first is integration into global value chains, by initially developing low added value and labour intensive activities before gradually moving upmarket in the value chain. Favourable to job creation, this strategy, however, requires industrial predispositions, though their absence can be compensated in some cases by the immediate availability of raw materials. A second strategy is based on the transformation of local products, such as mango, shea, cashew and textiles. The structuring of these sectors would help develop new export products with high added value and promote regional integration, justifying the efforts needed to connect inland production areas to coastal export zones. A third strategy is that of regional value chains, which focuses on local production of goods for regional markets. It is similar to the import substitution strategies implemented in the 1970s, but unlike the latter, their chances of success are increased by the current size of regional markets, improved integration and the growing demand for products tailored to local needs.