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Preface Annex 1
As shown in Figure 8, about 70 per cent of Western Africa, covering mainly the Sahelian zone, is semi-arid to desert (CILSS 2005). The sub-region is experiencing an increase in land degradation caused by salinity, erosion and the loss of soil fertility.
OVERVIEW OF LAND RESOURCES
The total land area of the sub-region is 607.84 million ha (FAO 2005). Arable land, permanent pasture and protected areas are shown in Table 11.
ENDOWMENTS AND OPPORTUNITIES
West Africa is projected to grow 4.5 per cent in 2005, with 8 of the 15 countries expected to record improvements over those achieved in 2004. These are Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali and Senegal (ECA 2005). Land resources are the primary driver of this growth. Factors behind this growth include agricultural growth in Benin, Gambia, Guinea, Mali, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo; donor support for Guinea-Bissau, Liberia and Sierra Leone; expansion in mining in Burkina Faso, Guinea, Ghana, Mali and Sierra Leone; foreign investment inflows to Cape Verde and Liberia (in response to anticipated improvement in political stability); and growth in tourism in Cape Verde and Gambia (ECA 2005).
Agriculture is the main source of revenue of almost 60 per cent of the population. The main subsistence and cash crops are maize, rice, coffee, cotton, cocoa, palm oil and fruits. Agricultural income represents an important part of GDP.
In the Sahelian zone, semi-nomadic and domestic livestock production are important activities. However, the long duration of the dry season compels breeders to move their cattle towards the south. This happens in Senegal, Niger, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania and Burkina Faso.
Regionally, oil has been an important stimulant of growth. The full potential of this for Western Africa is not known. Benin, Ghana, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo are all believed to have some oil deposits. Nigeria is the largest oil producer in Africa and the eleventh largest in the world, In 2004, Nigeria’s production averaged 2.5 million barrels per day (bbl/d) and it plans to increase this to 3 million bbl/d in 2006 and to 4 million bbl/d by 2010 (Energy Information Administration 2005b).
Mining, including for gold, phosphates, iron, uranium and diamonds, offers opportunities for development.
CHALLENGES FACED IN REALIZING OPPORTUNITIES FOR DEVELOPMENT
Land degradation is the main threat to the opportunities of land for sustainable development. There are several reasons for land degradation in Western Africa: overexploitation, bush fires, and population pressure associated with high population growth rates, to name but few. Land degradation can also be attributed to repeated periods of drought. The immediate effects of the degradation process are erosion, loss in soil fertility, reduction of biodiversity and biomass productivity, and impoverishment of the population.
In the Sahel, overgrazing is another threat to opportunities as it emphasizes land degradation.