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Public-private alliances build economic momentum in West Africa


Alliance-building is one of the hallmarks of the USAID West Africa Trade Hub, as underlined by two high-profile conferences this spring for groups it helped found: the Global Shea Alliance and the Borderless Alliance.

In what has become a major industry event, the fifth annual shea conference, “Shea 2012: Shared Value,” brought to Benin 420 stakeholders in shea, an African nut-based oil increasingly mixed into Western cosmetics and confectionary. Co-organized by the Trade Hub, the Global Shea Alliance and the Benin Association for Export Promotion, the April conference cemented consensus on establishing a shea nut quality program and a launched a new initiative to increase the use of shea in the U.S. food industry.

Members of the Global Shea Alliance established a quality improvement program and launched an effort to increase the use of shea in specialty fats in the U.SMembers of the Global Shea Alliance established a quality improvement program and launched an effort to increase the use of shea in specialty fats in the U.S

“If the Global Shea Alliance did not exist, it would be necessary to invent it,” said Mamatou Djire, who operates a shea company in Mali and is a member of the Global Shea Alliance Executive Committee. “The shea industry is important to 200 million people in West Africa, directly and indirectly. The Alliance is the platform to improve the industry, and we are happy to see that it is thriving.”

Read more about the conference and hear directly from attendees.

In May, more than 175 public and private sector stakeholders gathered in Cote d’Ivoire for the first Borderless conference to affirm dialogue and advocacy as means to tackle transport and logistics difficulties. They also elected the Borderless Alliance's first executive committee with leading regional companies in key positions, including Nestle and Olam International.

 Since 2000, West Africa has seen unprecedented economic growth. But, attendees said, what if the region’s business environment actually encouraged regional trade rather than made it so challenging to traders?

The potential is enormous, said Jean-Louis Billon, president of Cote d’Ivoire’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“Today regional trade represents 12 percent of all trade in West Africa,” Billon said. “That’s compared to 45 percent in South America, 54 percent in North America, 58 percent in Asia and 64 percent in Europe.”

Read more about the conference and hear attendees’ impressions.

Stakeholders elected the first Borderless Alliance Executive Committee: Augustin Kouassi Apetey of Olam International, W.A. Krofah of the Federation of West African Chambers of Commerce, Kadiatou Ouattara of COPRA Cote d’Ivoire, Ziad Hamoui of Tarzan Enterprises in Ghana, Chinwe Uduzu of British American Tobacco in Nigeria, Louis-Philippe Avit-Diecket of Nestle, and Ali Traore of ATPSL/AOC in Burkina FasoStakeholders elected the first Borderless Alliance Executive Committee: Augustin Kouassi Apetey of Olam International, W.A. Krofah of the Federation of West African Chambers of Commerce, Kadiatou Ouattara of COPRA Cote d’Ivoire, Ziad Hamoui of Tarzan Enterprises in Ghana, Chinwe Uduzu of British American Tobacco in Nigeria, Louis-Philippe Avit-Diecket of Nestle, and Ali Traore of ATPSL/AOC in Burkina Faso

The Trade Hub also helped create the African Cashew Alliance, which will hold “The Future is Now!” the 7th African Cashew Alliance Annual Conference and the World Cashew Expo12  in Cotonou, Benin from September 17-20. Learn more.

Published July 2012