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Support to West Africa Regional Integration Program (SWARIP)

November 26, 2013

SWARIP is a trust fund financed by the United Kingdom government, through its Department for International Development (DFID), and managed by the World Bank. Its objective is to support regional economic integration in West Africa by developing and disseminating new evidence on the impact of and obstacles to the integration process. This is expected to (i) inform policymakers in West African countries and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) and the West Africa Monetary Zone (WAMZ); (ii) influence programs of the Bank and other donors to address the most critical bottlenecks to integration; and (iii) foster the dialogue between these and other relevant stakeholders, such as the private sector, media, and civil society.

This program was launched in early 2013 with a three-year timeframe. Since then, SWARIP has brought support to a variety of analytical activities covering a broad range of issues, including regional trade in food staples, trade and transport facilitation, regional cooperation in higher education and the impact of regional integration on poverty. Other topics will be added as the work program expands, such as informal trade, trade in services, customs performances, or the implementation of the ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET). In elaborating this program, the focus is put on selected issues which (i) are at the core of the current strategies and needs of the RECs and their members, (ii) are part of the World Bank’s own strategic priorities and (iii) can have the highest impact in terms of growth opportunities and poverty alleviation in the region.

Outputs of projects supported by SWARIP, as well as other documents, information or events related to regional integration in West Africa, will be regularly be posted on this page. For more information on SWARIP and the activity it supports, please contact Jean-Christophe Maur (jmaur@worldbank.org) and Antoine Coste (acoste@worldbank.org). 


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Despite its vast agriculture potential, Africa is increasingly dependent on food imports from the rest of the world to satisfy its consumption needs. Food output has not kept pace with population growth, and more than 80 percent of production gains since 1980 have come from the expansion of cropped areas rather than from greater productivity of areas already cultivated (Rakotoarisoa et al., 2012; ADB, 2011). Africa currently spends around US$ 30 billion to US$ 50 billion on food imports annually and without an increase in per capita continental food supply, experts predict this amount will rise to US$ 150 billion by 2030 (IFPRI, 2012).


  • Facilitating intra-regional trade in inputs and food staples could address high trade costs and large price differentials between producing and consuming regions and in turn improve food security and sensitivity to shocks.
  • Recent increases in international food prices and volatility, paired with domestic pressure and the mixed impact on food security of past liberalisation reforms, has led many West African governments to adopt trade restrictions.
  • For regional integration to support enhanced food security, supply- and demand-side bottlenecks should be identified and addressed jointly. This requires coherence between national and regional agriculture and trade policies, as well as safety net policies to address adverse consequences.
  • Trade reforms need to be viewed as multi-stage dynamic processes and their sustainability differs by country and depends on achieving a durable consensus among political elites, the private sector, and urban consumers.
  • Further research should prioritise i) mapping regional agricultural trade flows and assessing the impact of trade barriers, ii) the politics of regional and national agricultural trade policy development and implementation and iii) examining the impact of non-tariff trade barriers on selected food staples and input value chains.