Mapping West African trade networks


How do West African traders manage to overcome the uncertainties of doing business across the region? How do informal ties shape relationships between border actors in West Africa? How do these actors operate across borders?  In this article published by the Brookings Institution, Olivier Walther, Associate Professor at the University of Southern Denmark (SDU), presents some of the findings of a paper on “Business, Brokers and Borders” that shows how a formal approach to networks can help map the social and spatial organisation of trade and provide insights into its functioning. Using a similar methodology of social network analysis, the Sahel and West Africa Club Secretariat (SWAC/OECD) will publish a report on “Cross-border Co-operation and Policy Networks in West Africa” in early 2017. Conducted in co-operation with SDU, the study maps the formal and informal relationships between actors involved in cross-border co-operation and assesses the impact that borders have on the exchange of information and power in West Africa.

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