Hero image West Africa

West Africa

Faced with increasingly capricious weather patterns that are playing havoc with food security, countries in West Africa (chapter 18) are developing expertise in climate science with international support. For instance, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has partnered with the German government to create the West African Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use, which encompasses a Climate Research Programme, a Graduate Studies Programme and observation networks. 

With the African Continental Free Trade Area on the horizon, countries are racing to restructure their economies. The Senegalese Sovereign Fund for Strategic Investments (FONSIS, est. 2012) uses state oil and gas revenue to invest in capital funds targeting SMEs in priority sectors such as solar energy, agriculture and health. One subsidiary, SOGENAS, specializes in the production and commercialization of dairy cows genetically modified to resist hot, dry conditions.  

There is a strong market potential for plant-based products. Félix Houphouët-Boigny University in Côte d’Ivoire is developing plant-based biopesticides, as well as low-cost phytomedicines, for the African market. 

Burkina Faso (10), Ghana (36), Côte d’Ivoire (30), Nigeria (101), Mali (11), Senegal (22) and Togo (21) host a growing number of tech hubs but the near absence of local business angels and seed capital remains a challenge for start-ups. 

Through their digital agendas, countries such as Cabo Verde, The Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal are preparing for the day when much of intra-African trade may take place on the Internet, including through the creation of locally led data centres. 

With more than half the population below the age of 20 years, governments are investing in physical and virtual universities to cope with growing demand for higher education. Burkina Faso is taking inspiration from Senegal’s model for its own virtual university. 

Nine out of 15 countries now have explicit STI policies but only five have reported recent data on research trends.  

  • Figure 18.1: Economic trends in West Africa 
  • Figure 18.3: Status of STI policy development in West Africa, 2019 
  • Figure 18.4: Trends in GERD and researchers in West Africa, 2017 or closest year (%) 
  • Table 18.1: Enrolment in centres of excellence in West Africa, 2014–2018 
  • Figure 18.5: Trends in scientific publishing and patenting in West Africa 
  • Figure 18.6: Trends in higher education in West Africa 
  • Box 18.1: Building research capacity to tackle climate change in West Africa 
  • Box 18.2: Google opens Africa’s first centre for artificial intelligence 
  • Box 18.3: Space tech taking off in West Africa