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Cross-border Co-operation and Policy Networks in West Africa

image of Cross-border Co-operation and Policy Networks in West Africa

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.

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Summary

Sahel and West Africa Club

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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