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Coastal Resources as an Engine of Economic Growth and Reduction of Poverty in West Africa: Policy Considerations

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Coastal resources of the Sub-Saharan West Africa have great potential to become an engine of growth and poverty reduction in this region, provided their use patterns are radically changed. Today, a lion’s share of these resources is taken away by foreign fleets, mainly by the European Union member-states and Asian operators. There is no integration of their activity with the coastal states’ economies. With the exception of meager license fees and domestic artisanal harvest, mostly for local consumption, coastal countries receive no other benefits from these resources. To reverse this trend it is necessary to create a favorable investment climate in coastal states’ economies and to take decisive legislative measures to encourage foreign operators to invest in coastal infrastructures, and to start unloading and processing their catches in local plants using the comparative advantage of inexpensive local manpower and other local inputs. This will create jobs and hard currency revenues from exports of seafood and will stimulate the development of other subsectors of the national economy. This study shows that by moving processing of the coastal resources to the land infrastructures, the benefits for the national economy will be 10 times greater than West African countries receive from the license fees paid by international fleet operators. The real issue, however, is that by establishing onshore processing, new jobs are created and hard currency revenues are substantially increased through exports of value-added seafood products. Higher fiscal revenues, more jobs, and increased supplies of fish for the local consumption markets are important benefit that currently are taken away by foreign users. These benefits can accelerate West African economic development and contribute to the reduction of poverty in the coastal states of this region. These opportunities are fully realistic provided structural changes are introduced by the governments, including legislative measures giving resource use priority to those who process them in the coastal country’s onshore facilities.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Washington 2: Fishery Business Consultant

Publication date: 01 July 2000

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