Fostering productive capacities, structural economic transformation, and export diversification in LLDCs and other structurally weak West African economies

17 - 18 December 2019
Transcorp Hilton Hotel
, Nigeria


The West African sub-region consists of several landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) and other structurally weak and vulnerable economies. The primary commodities-driven growth of the sub-region has failed to enable the economies of the sub-region to achieve substantial socioeconomic outcomes. Consequently, West Africa accounts for only a marginal share of global trade and foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows, as well as output. Furthermore, the socioeconomic vulnerabilities of the countries continue unabated. Employment creation and poverty reduction remain among the critical and persistent challenges facing the region. The sub-region’s overall socioeconomic underdevelopment and continued marginalization in the global economy are the results of several factors including weak productive capacities; lack of structural economic transformation; weak institutional and human resource capabilities to formulate and implement trade and development policies; geography (being landlocked and remote from international markets for the LLDCs); climate change; and overdependence on a single or few primary commodities for exports. These trends are compounded at the domestic level by political instability and conflict, high population growth and increasing income inequality.


This workshop aims to strengthen the capacities of policymakers and experts from West African countries, including LLDCs, in designing and implementing policies centered on promoting structural economic transformation in their countries. The workshop also facilitates experience sharing among LLDCs, transit neighbours and other countries of the sub-region. It provides opportunities to discuss policies and measures to effectively implement regional and sub-regional trade and investment agreements, as well as other policy measures that are needed to support specific sectors with diversification potential. These range from micro and macroeconomic policies, to support to the implementation of the AfCFTA and other initiatives aimed at building trade and transport infrastructure, improving the regulatory environment for the private sector, and strengthening institutions.
The workshop is comprised of three parts. The first part will address the concept of productive capacities, and its principal components. It will particularly deliberate on policy instruments and specific measures needed to foster productive capacities and structural transformation, including utilizing existing capacities. This part will also present the newly developed Productive Capacities Index (PCI), which allows countries to assess their performance on building productive capacities.

The second part of the workshop will explore the comparative advantages that West African countries have, and the potential they hold for export diversification. This will enable countries to exchange views on challenges and opportunities in the implementation of sub-regional and continental trade agreements such as the AfCFTA. It will also help participants to understand the key binding constraints undermining efforts to take advantage of exiting potential in selected countries in West Africa. Discussions will draw on the extensive work undertaken by CSEA in examining regional and country-specific revealed comparative advantages, the AfCFTA, and trade compatibilities.

The third part will address the key policies and measures required to support the diversification of exports in LLDCs based on the experiences of successful economies.

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13 Dec 2019

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Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa (CSEA)
Sponsor / funding:
UNCTAD through UN Development Account resources

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Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa (CSEA)