Economic development in West Africa
West African economic growth rates have been insufficient in most countries to make significant reductions in poverty. Essentially, West Africa’s farmers and firms produce and trade in highly localized markets and do not achieve the sufficient economies of scale required to attract broad-based investment that could accelerate growth and reduce poverty. This is due to a number of constraints including inefficient transportation and trade barriers along corridors and at borders, a heavy reliance on family and informal sources of financing, and an insufficient supply of reliable and affordable power. These factors result in West African products being uncompetitive in the international market place.
USAID/West Africa’s strategy is to work through regional organizations and private sector associations to address critical constraints to competitiveness and demonstrate West Africa’s productive potential in order to trigger greater regional investment.
West Africa Trade Hub
USAID/West Africa’s Trade Program is implemented through the West Africa Trade Hub in Accra, Ghana, in close coordination with a network of African regional private sector partners and public institutions, including the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU). The Trade Hub works through regional private sector associations to assist farmers and firms to meet product quality standards and market requirements, and to produce commercial quantities. The USAID West Africa Trade Hub also assists key regional private sector associations to negotiate and meet contractual obligations and access finance.
African Private Sector Alliances
USAID/West Africa focuses on private sector alliances in the Livestock and Grains, Transportation, Cashews, and Shea sectors:
Regional Trade in Livestock and Grains:
USAID/West Africa’s Feed the Future strategy identifies livestock (cattle, sheep and goats) and grains (maize, rice, millet and sorghum) as critical staple foods for regional food security. These provide a substantial portion of the protein and calories in the West African diet, and regional trade is essential to ensure access to food and improve nutrition and resiliency to drought and climatic shocks.