Preparing for the Future - A Vision of West Africa in the Year 2020

West Africa Long-Term Perspective Study

Sahel and West Africa Club

Between 1960 and 2020, the population of West Africa will have increased fivefold, even with the most optimistic assumptions of increased contraceptive use. This unprecedented demographic explosion is accompanied by another major change: Exposure to the world economy, that began after World War II and became particularly significant after independence.

These two shocks will have far-reaching effects on all aspects of the region's economies and societies. Moreover, West Africa's population distribution will be radically altered with urban populations increasing by a factor of twenty over the same period. Population growth, migration and changing settlement patterns greatly influence economic, political, social, and institutional forms of organisation. In this context, and contrary to conventional wisdom, the people of West Africa are actively producing, consuming, trading and accumulating capital in a way that is significantly underestimated by national accounts. This study attemps to glean a more accurate understanding of the real economy of the West Africa region, an economy which provides the basis for many livelihoods.

The Study was carried on with the assistance of the European Commission, the African Development Bank, the World Bank, Belgium, Canada, France, the Netherlands and the United States.

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