Promoting agricultural trade in West Africa

Strengthening the ECOWAS Commission for the Promotion of Regional Agricultural Trade

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  • Commissioning Party

    German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)

  • Lead executing agency


  • Overall term

    2022 to 2026

  • Products and expertise

    Rural Development and Agriculture

Truck being loaded with tomatoes, Lagos, Nigeria; Copyright GIZ/Fabian Pflume


Around 23 million people in the region of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) suffer from malnutrition. High population growth, climate change and rapid urbanisation all contribute to a situation where agricultural production is unable to keep pace with the growing demand for food. As a result, food shortages and the share of imports are rising. The covid pandemic and the war in Ukraine have highlighted the risks of being dependent on the world market.

Closer regional links and more trade within the ECOWAS region could contribute to solving this problem and increase agricultural productivity at the same time. Currently, however, agricultural trade within West Africa is of minor importance, with only 12 per cent of agricultural exports going to other ECOWAS states.

Besides inadequate infrastructure, the low trade volume between neighbouring countries is mainly caused by obstacles at border crossings. In practice, the ECOWAS region has no harmonised trade policy. High customs duties are often levied and varying legislation applies. Added to this are long waiting times and corruption at border crossings, which put women in particular at a disadvantage.

Due to these obstacles, a considerable portion of the region's cross-border agricultural trade operates in a gray area, posing difficulties in capturing it within statistical data and addressing it through effective policies


Conditions for cross-border agricultural trade in the ECOWAS region are improved.

Seed and grain market in Kano, Nigeria /; Copyright: GIZ/Fabian Pflume


The project operates in the following areas:

- It provides evidence-based advice to the ECOWAS Commission and Member States and incorporates the private sector in this process, in order to harmonise regional trade policy.

- The project develops specific measures with neighbouring countries to facilitate cross-border trade, for example via trade information desks and accelerated procedures for perishable products.


- It supports traders through workshops, financial assistance and the provision of market information.

Food market in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire; Copyright: GIZ/Toni Kaatz-Dubberke

Last update: May 2023

Additional information

Strengthening resilient and sustainable value chains in West Africa

Facilitating Trade in West Africa

Supporting Agriculture and Development Globally

Agricultural-based economic development

Agricultural trade and standards