West African Studies

2074-353X (online)
2074-3548 (print)
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This series of books examines economic and social issues being faced by West Africa.  
Also available in French
Cross-border Co-operation and Policy Networks in West Africa

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13 Jan 2017
9789264265875 (PDF) ;9789264265769(print)

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This publication examines how policy actors involved in cross-border co-operation contribute to the regional integration process in West Africa. It uses a pioneering methodology, known as social network analysis, to visualise the formal and informal relationships between actors involved in cross-border policy networks, showing that borders have notable and diverse impacts on exchanges of information and the relative power of networks. The report then analyses a range of regional indicators of co-operation potential, visually demonstrating that borders can also affect the ability of sub-regions within West Africa to develop cross-border initiatives in a number of ways. Combining these two analyses with the perceptions of regional policy makers as to which border areas they consider as priorities for regional integration, the publication concludes with the analytical foundations for more effective place-based policies that can enhance cross-border co-operation in West Africa.

Also available in French
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  • The Club

    The Sahel and West Africa Club (SWAC) is an international platform for policy dialogue and analysis devoted to regional issues in West Africa. Its mission is to enhance the effectiveness of regional action in the common and interdependent area composed of the 17 countries of ECOWAS, UEMOA and CILSS. Created in 1976, it is the only international entity entirely dedicated to regional co-operation in Africa.

  • Preface

    Cross-border co-operation in various forms has been actively pursued in West African border areas for many years. Often transcending regional legislations and administrative constraints, it is driven by a variety of actors ranging from nongovernmental organisations to government institutions, to regional and international organisations, including the SWAC Secretariat, one of the pioneers of implementing cross-border co-operation policy in West Africa.

  • Foreword and acknowledgements

    This publication reflects the priorities of the regional organisations that are members of the Sahel and West Africa Club (SWAC), namely the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) and the Permanent Inter-State Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS), and thus also contributes to the objectives set out in the OECD Programme of Work and Budget.

  • Abbreviations and acronyms
  • Summary

    West Africa’s population continues to grow at one of the fastest rates of any region worldwide, having been forecast to expand from 367 million in 2015 to 538 million by 2030. This growth in population will inevitably increase population density in the region, naturally raising the number of cross-border interactions. These interactions become increasingly imperative if the region is to take advantage of the economic opportunities presented by its growing markets and demographic dividend, but are equally critical in countering the challenges including those posed by armed groups, climate change and illegal trade. Indeed, the Ebola epidemic of 2013–15 illustrated the crucial role of cross-border co operation when faced with challenges that know no boundary constructs.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Towards a new approach to cross-border co-operation

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    • Cross‑border co‑operation in West Africa: Bridging the gap between research and policy

      Chapter 1 starts by looking at West Africa’s future, where rapid population growth is expected to continue over the next two generations. Settlement basins will continue to densify and expand, reaching across borders, and there will be more and larger cities. As a result, cross-border interaction will increase naturally regardless of the level of support from national and regional policy. The chapter will then look briefly at the cross-border dynamics developed by local actors which share a number of common factors, namely: bypassing institutional initiatives and dealing with the abuse of power, absence or shortcomings of those in charge of applying regulatory controls. It lastly addresses the potential of the paper’s research and the advantage of actively narrowing the gap between bottom-up regionalisation dynamics and top-down regionalism, while considering the time-lags frequently experienced in improving public policy.

    • A relational approach to cross-border co-operation in West Africa

      Chapter 2 – a relational approach to cross-border co-operation in West Africa – demonstrates the importance of cross-border co-operation and public policy for regional integration in West Africa and the different forms each of the aforementioned concepts can take. It examines equally the three dimensions of cross-border co-operation and public policy, identifying current developments, potential areas for increased activity and political visions for its future progression. Gaps are then identified between these dimensions, suggesting the need for more relational approaches to cross-border co-operation that offer more tailored policies. The chapter then concludes with a brief description of institutional models that have shown to be effective in aiding closer regional integration.

    • Regionalism, regional integration and regionalisation in West Africa

      Chapter 3 reviews the implications of the enlargement of ideas of regionalism since the 1990s and calls for more systematic monitoring of the diversity of region-building institutions and cross-border interactions in West Africa. It highlights that specific attention needs to be paid to the historical development of West Africa’s regional institutions and their distinctive architectures and cultures. The dynamics of cross-border interactions that provide diverse contributions to integration are then analysed, along with the implications of “defragmentation” policies and processes that should enhance the regional and global integration of African economies. Against this backdrop, the conclusion draws attention to the importance of deepening understanding of the policy-networks that operate both within regional institutions and across borders.

    • Social network analysis and cross‑border co‑operation in West Africa

      Chapter 4 explores the theory of social network analysis and its applicability for cross-border co-operation in West Africa. The objective of this chapter is to show how a formal approach to the study of networks can be applied in West Africa to better understand how policy makers co-operate across borders in the region. The chapter starts by discussing some of the fundamental concepts developed by social network analysis over the last decades, including centrality, embeddedness, and brokerage. It then examines the methodological challenges of network analysis and how it differs from other approaches, before highlighting some of the policy implications of social network analysis for West Africa.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Cross-border co-operation: Potential, networks and political priorities

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    • Mapping cross border co-operation potential in West Africa

      Chapter 5 attempts to identify the areas in West Africa that have the greatest potential for cross-border co-operation. It is based upon research that maps seven environmental, socio-economic and political indicators, highlighting the existence of wide spatial disparities between West African regions. The research indicates that the zones with the greatest potential for cross-border co-operation are concentrated in southern Senegambia, along the borders of Burkina Faso, in the Accra-Lagos conurbation, between Niger and Nigeria, and in the north of Cameroon, as these regions present greater cross-border accessibility and border market density than others. In particular, they share natural, agricultural or pastoral resources, do not face significant linguistic divides, and poverty gaps are neither too wide nor too narrow, promoting synergies and movement between countries. From an institutional perspective, it is easier to roll out cross-border programmes in those areas where the relevant borders are well delimited.

    • Integration in West Africa: The institutional landscape

      Focussing on the institutions operating in West Africa, Chapter 6 examines the diversity of organisations involved in regional integration1. Analyses of cross-border co-operation networks are performed at both the macro level, covering the 15 countries of ECOWAS as well as Cameroon, Chad and Mauritania, and in three specific micro-regions that share resources. The chapter also highlights the formal and informal relationships that exist between institutions, what structural constraints limit their exchanges of information, what the impact of national borders is on the regional construction process, and how these factors, amongst others, have contributed to the differing levels of regional integration evident across West Africa.

    • West African cross‑border policy networks

      Chapter 7 seeks to chart the way in which organisations and individuals are connected within cross-border policy networks in West Africa. One of the major challenges for cross-border co-operation is successfully managing to establish principles and pursue initiatives which transcend specific national characteristics. In doing so, cross-border co-operation brings together organisations with very different objectives and individuals with very different profiles, who must nevertheless work together and achieve mutually acceptable consensuses. Based on the results of a field survey carried out across the West African region, and in the areas of the Senegal River valley, Liptako-Gourma, and the Lake Chad region in particular, the report highlights the actors involved in cross-border co-operation, their formal and informal relationships, the structural constraints limiting their exchanges of information and power, and the impact of national borders on the regional construction process.

    • Spatial representations and cross‑border co‑operation in West Africa

      Chapter 8 analyses the spatial representations of the actors involved in cross-border co-operation in West Africa. The first part of the chapter uses mental maps to identify areas recognised as priority regions for cross-border co-operation, the extent to which they vary in size depending on the country in which the actors are located and the locus of the cross-border co-operation’s centre of gravity. The second maps the places that are considered as particularly strategic for cooperation between actors within the region itself, while the third section identifies actors which have the potential to be more actively engaged in co-operation activities and discusses the emergence of multi-layered governance in the region. The fourth and concluding section proposes an overview of the co-operation dynamics in place in cross-border areas.

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