Substantial food price gaps across West Africa
Prices are a key determinant of access to food in West Africa as households rely on markets for two-thirds of their food supply. Food prices in sub-Saharan Africa are 30 to 40% more expensive than in the rest of the world at comparable levels of GDP per capita. They vary greatly across countries – from -28% in Mauritania to +14% in Ghana compared to the West African average, reflecting also the relative inefficiency of the regional food market. Price differentials are at their lowest between the eight countries of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA). In other areas (Côte’divoire-Ghana, Mauritania-Senegal, Liberia-Sierra Leone), border price differentials exceed 17%, highlighting the high transaction costs. Since the launch of the Trade Liberalisation Scheme of the Economic Community of West African States (ETLS/ECOWAS) in the early 90s, ECOWAS aims to promote a free trade area. Customs duties levied on imports and exports, and non-tariff barriers are formally abolished within the ECOWAS area. Yet, in practice, its implementation remains haphazard with many remaining barriers. Removing these obstacles and facilitating regional trade would contribute to reducing food prices.