Topic 1: History and Context of Development in West Africa


Coordonned by the Prof  OLUKOSHI Adebayo

Terms of reference for a Commissioned Paper

The quest for development, broadly understood as cumulative, all-round, and integrated progress, is integral to all societies and peoples. If this assertion is true, it follows that undervelopment is not, therefore, the natural fate of any peoples or nations. Rather, it is the product of historical factors which need to be unraveled and redressed in order for progress to be registered. In West Africa, the quest for development has a long historical antecedent, going back to the earliest experiments in the area at building political communities that could serve as workable, legitimate frameworks for aggregating, securing and extending the wealth of society and the welfare of the citizenry. These experiments knew periods of relative success and periods of setback and failure. The experiments also went through different stages that were marked as much by continuities as by disruptions and ruptures. The contextual factors at play at different moments in the developmental quest have also been varied, interacting among themselves in different ways, and ranging from the political, economic, and social to the cultural, environmental, and demographic. As West Africa’s contacts with and position in the world economy evolved, the sub-region has also known periods in its history when development was either more endogenous or internally-driven and exogenous or externally-driven.

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