International economic forum: Outlook for economic growth in West Africa

19 April 2018 in Casa África
Foro económico internacional: Perspectivas de crecimiento económico en África occidental. 19 y 20 de abril de 2018 en Casa África

The Canary Islands, as a European outermost region, could play a very important role in the development of West Africa. This is reinforced by the latest communication from the European Commission, dated 24 October 2017, which mentions intensifying the cooperation between the outermost regions and their neighbours.

This is just one of the many reasons why Casa África is hosting this forum at its headquarters. The event will be attended by several African and Spanish ministerial representatives - who will sit on the forum’s two panels - as well as by representatives from Africa’s private sector and civil society.

The meeting is organised by the Government of the Canary Islands with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain and Casa África and has the collaboration of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The forum will take place on 19 April at Casa África, from 9:00 am to 1:30 pm. Admission to the event is free, but prior registration is required by sending an email to

This high level forum will be organised around a programme that includes two working panels:

  1. economic growth in West Africa – opportunities and obstacles
  2. young entrepreneurs as drivers of the continent’s economic development


One of the aims of the first panel is to analyse the opportunities for, and obstacles to, Africa’s economic development. It will consider the importance that a true integration of the West African region can have, focusing on the ECOWAS regional block which Morocco and Mauritania have requested to join and which represents a market of close to 400 million African people. Advances in the economic integration of the countries that make up ECOWAS have been significant, but they need to have a greater impact on social development which still registers very unstable indicators. It should be noted that African countries represent less than 3% of world trade and that intra-African trade is still very low. While domestic trade reaches figures of up to 60% in the EU or Asia, in Africa it is still around 10-11%.

The panel will analyse how the adoption of customs tariffs and common investment codes would serve both to reduce the vulnerability of African economies and to protect local producers and, therefore, to create more stable jobs.

It will also analyse the role that the private sector can play in this field and how some African countries are promoting entrepreneurship.

The second panel will analyse the role of young entrepreneurs as drivers of economic development. The fact that the continent has a very young population potentially provides momentum, provided they can find employment. The region’s demographic structure could boost cohesion and integration if the capacity for economic growth succeeds in creating employment for the new workforce. The panel will analyse how to promote entrepreneurship in the young population to avoid them passing into the hands of the mafias or terrorist groups.


Africa has experienced decades of low economic growth and until recently it was considered to be the region forgotten by globalisation. However, Africa has seen average growth in the last decade of 5% per year, which gives cause for optimism, although opportunities would still need to be analysed case by case. In addition, Africa’s trade with the rest of the world has multiplied fourfold in the last two decades, although trade within the continent has not reached 15%.

To this favourable environment is added the fact that the continent has increasingly mature societies and growing middle classes and is fuelled by an impressive demographic dynamism and a construction boom.

But one of the obstacles faced by African countries is that one in four countries depends on one or two raw materials, which account for at least 75% of exports.


  • What? International economic forum: Outlook for economic growth in West Africa
  • When? 19 April 2018 from 9:00 am to 1:30 pm
  • Where? In Casa África C/ Alfonso XIII, 5 Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
  • Programme
  • Concept note
  • Conclusions (SpanishEnglishFrench)
Esta actividad se realiza en el marco del proyecto CONFIAFRICA, cofinanciado por la Unión Europea a través del Fondo Europeo de Desarrollo Regional-FEDER en el marco del programa de cooperación INTERREG MAC (Azores, Madeira y Canarias).


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