West and Central Africa

To global findings

Crises and potential threats tend to dominate the European view of West and Central Africa. However severe the problems in the world’s poorest region may be, the strong progress made in West African countries in recent years is just as worthy of attention. The democracies in this part of Africa are proving remarkably stable despite the adverse conditions they face.

In the last ten years, West Africa has witnessed six successful (re-)democratizations – more than any other sub-region of the BTI. In Central Africa, hard-line autocracies still dominate. This includes several political dinosaurs who’ve been able to maintain their grip on power.

To date, no West or Central African country has achieved advanced economic transformation. Structural problems are particularly severe in the rentier states, which feature a stark contrast of resource wealth and widespread poverty. The reduction of birth rates is also an issue that countries in the region should address.

Nowhere in the world is governing as difficult as in West and Central Africa. Several societies in the region harbor the potential for ethnically driven conflicts. A further deepening of regional cooperation offers the greatest hope in delivering progress as the West’s influence as a development partner tapers off.

The demonstrably encouraging developments in West Africa over the past ten years have brought about a large number of “democracies in poverty” that are in urgent need of respectful long-term cooperation. It is they, after all, who bear the weight of considerable pressure.

Show regional report

Discover more regions