Regional Integration, the Key to Transforming West African Economies

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Ministers, parliamentarians and investors met at the 48th Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank held in Marrakech, Morocco, recently to discuss the transformation of West African economies.

In discussions held under the theme ‘The transformation program in progress: Transforming West African economies,’ the delegates agreed that West Africa’s mining  and agricultural potential should drive  the region’s economic growth through infrastructure development, with the goal of improving the populations living  standards. The delegates also stressed the need for an improved business environment that would attract investors and increase capital flows across borders.

The  panelists said an intra-regional approach was needed to ensure wide-spread economic growth in the region. The  Ministers of  Finance of Liberia, Amara Konneh,  and  Guinea, Kerfalla Yansané, outlined the importance of infrastructure projects linking their countries.

Mr. Konneh said Liberia’s development strategy was, among other factors, founded on the development of stronger links with neighboring Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire. “Sectoral  strategies will boost regional integration and become  a driving force to improve the sub-region’s position,” he said.

He said the political commitment of Liberia’s government to the country’s reconstruction should, in time, lead to substantial economic and social development,  enable the country  to rise above its current status as a ‘fragile state’, and enable it to regain its past dynamism.   

Mr. Yansané said projects including the construction of power plants in Guinea will create a stimulus  for the economic growth of his country and neighboring sub-region. “Revamping our regional economy means the construction of rail lines and sea ports, as shown by the projects underway, with AfDB support,” he said.  

Franck  Perrault, Director of Operations for West Africa at the AfDB, said that in order to make these projects viable and real tools of economic transformation, West African countries would need to forge strong regional cooperation that would also ensure internal security in the different countries.