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Cross-border development in the Sahel

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Cross-border experts, practitioners and international partners gathered on 3-4 July 2018 in Cotonou, Benin, to share experiences and discuss innovative mechanisms for making cross-border co-operations operational. The seminar highlighted the crucial contribution of border areas and populations to the regional integration process, based on the Local Cross-Border Co-operation Programme currently led by UEMOA in collaboration with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). Participants also identified obstacles and discussed the many institutional challenges and how they affect cross-border development, particularly in the context of increasing security challenges. Concrete examples illustrate how some of these challenges can be addressed; for example, the creation of inter-communal administrations with legal and financial arrangements between bordering towns could allow them to more easily implement joint cross-border interventions. On a larger scale, the SKBo triangle (Sikasso-Korhogo-Bobo Dioulasso) has developed the Integrated Cross-border Development Scheme (SATI). The 32 000 kilometres of borders that divide West Africa are often viewed as an obstacle to regional integration. The seminar promoted an alternative vision of the region’s borders by highlighting their potential in terms of economic opportunitis and security. The meeting was organised by the UEMOA Commission and the Sahel and West Africa Club Secretariat (SWAC/OECD) with the support of the SDC.