Ecobank’s African markets website goes live, profiling Francophone West Africa as the leader in intra-regional trade

  • March 6, 2018

Francophone West Africa leads in intra-regional trade with trade hotspots around Dakar, Abidjan, Cotonou and Lomé, according to analysis by Ecobank’s research team in its new website, AfricaFICC.

The team has updated Ecobank’s flagship Africa Fixed Income, Currency and Commodities Guidebook (FICC) and made it available as an online resource: The website provides key facts for businesses and investors on the economies of Sub-Saharan Africa and the key sectors of activity.

The first regional section of the website to go live is Francophone West Africa, one of the most diverse regions of Sub-Saharan Africa. Stretching from Senegal and Cape Verde in the West to Niger 2,000 miles away in the East, Francophone West Africa covers nine countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire (, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo. Together they make up the Union Economique et Monétaire Ouest-Africaine (UEMOA). The website gives a country-by-country analysis of each country, with an economic outlook, details on the FX, FI and banking sectors, and overview of the mineral, energy and soft commodity sectors, as well as key trade flows.

Data for Francophone West Africa show that, despite geographical differences, the region is one of the best integrated economic and monetary zones in Africa, bolstered by the shared currency (the CFA franc), the common legal system (OHADA) and the French language which has fostered economic integration and intra-regional trade.

Key factors to consider include:

  • The region’s economy is driven by agriculture, mining, hydrocarbons, trade and financial services, and is home to the world’s largest producer of cocoa (Côte d’Ivoire) and Africa’s largest regional producers of cotton and palm oil.
  • Abidjan, Dakar, Cotonou and Lomé are key trade hubs for trade, acting as conduits for the import and export of goods and services, both to the international market and to sub-regional markets.
  • Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal account for more than half the block’s GDP and trade flows, acting as vital lifelines for their landlocked neighbours, Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. Benin and Togo are also major re-export hubs for capital & consumer goods and food, with large informal volumes not being captured by official data.
  • Côte d’Ivoire has the largest banking sector in UEMOA, followed by Senegal. Both countries are emerging as the key Fintech innovation hubs in Francophone Africa.

“Many businesses and investors struggle to find good and reliable economic data about Sub-Saharan Africa,” said Dr. Edward George, Ecobank’s Head of Group Research.

“Our new Africa FICC website offers a one-stop shop, with all the key economic, currency, banking, commodity and trade data that those working or investing in Sub-Saharan Africa need at their fingertips,” he said.

“Ecobank understands regional and local business customs, regulations and country-specific risks better than any other bank in Africa because we operate on the ground in 33 markets. This data will help us and our clients in making investment and other financial decisions as part of our seamless service,” said Charles Daboiko, Group Head for Francophone West Africa.


  • Benin is one of smallest countries in West Africa.
  • It is West Africa’s third-largest cotton producer, with estimated output of 150,000 tonnes of cotton lint in 2016/17 – Benin’s most valuable export, worth US$187mn in 2016, with most exports going to India, Malaysia, Bangladesh and China for spinning and textiles.
  • Benin is a major re-export hub, serving as a key informal conduit for capital and consumer goods going into and out of its eastern neighbour, Nigeria.

Burkina Faso

  • Burkina Faso has recently emerged as West Africa’s third largest producer of gold (after Ghana and Mali), with estimated output of 45 tonnes in 2017 and is now its most valuable export, worth US$1.6bn in 2016. Thanks to major investment production of gold is expanding, along with other minerals such as zinc (169,000 tonnes produced in 2016) and lead (2,000 tonnes).
  • Burkina Faso is West Africa’s leading cotton producer, with estimated output of 283,000 tonnes of cotton lint in 2016/17 which totalled US$423mn in 2016. It is also a significant producer of sesame (95,000 tonnes in 2017) and cashew nuts (86,000 tonnes), all exported raw to world markets.

Côte d’Ivoire

  • One of Sub-Saharan Africa’s leading soft commodity exporters, accounting for 14.2% of the total in 2016. Cocoa and cocoa products were the largest export, totalling US$5.7 bn.
  • The world’s leading producer of cocoa, with record output of 2.01mn tonnes in 2016/17 (October-September), 42.8% of world output.
  • Africa’s largest producer of natural rubber, with estimated output of 326,101 tonnes in 2015, most of which was exported to world markets.

Cape Verde

  • An archipelago with the region’s smallest population of just over half a million people.
  • With limited land and water resources, Cape Verde does not produce agricultural commodities for export and the country remains heavily dependent on food imports to meet domestic needs.


  • Guinea Bissau is Africa’s third largest producer of cashew nuts, with estimated output of 200,000 tonnes of raw cashews (RCN) in 2017, around 8% of world production.


  • Mali is the third largest producer of gold in Sub-Saharan Africa, Gold, with an estimated output of 63 tonnes in 2016 and production set to rise, is Mali’s most valuable commodity export worth US$2bn in 2016, and and makes up a quarter of government revenues. The government hopes to raise total production to over 100 tonnes in the near term.
  • Mali is West Africa’s second largest cotton producer after Burkina Faso. Run by a state monopoly, Mali’s cotton production has risen steadily since 2013/14, reaching a record 266,000 tonnes of cotton lint in 2016/17, worth US$266mn in exports. Output forecast to grow further to 300,000 tonnes in 2017/18, thereby making Mali Africa’s largest cotton grower; Malian cotton fibre trades at a slight premium to Burkinabè fibre, owing to its longer staple length and reliable deliveries.
  • In 2016 Mali exported US$228mn worth of live animals to neighbouring countries (mostly cows, sheep and goats)


  • Niger is Africa’s largest producer of uranium, with estimated output of 2,904 tonnes in 2016, worth US$299mn, 93% of which is exported to France as fuel and the balance to the USA;
  • Niger became an oil producer in 2011 when production started at the Agadem block: output has averaged 20,000 bpd; but production is set to rise following the award of a second oil licence in November 2013;
  • Niger is a major re-exporter of food to neighbouring countries; in 2016 it exported US$134mn of rice, US$132mn of palm oil and US$31mn of pasta.


  • Senegal has the second largest banking sector in the UEMOA, after Côte d’Ivoire.
  • Senegal’s banking sector is loan-driven, with loans and advances accounting for more than half of total assets and the wholesale lending activities – primarily to SMEs and local and multinational corporates – the main growth driver.
  • Senegal’s mining sector is focused on gold, phosphates and cement production, with an estimated 10 tonnes of gold produced in 2016, all for export. New investment aims to increase annual production to more than 30 tonnes by 2022.
  • Estimated output of cement was 2.9 million tonnes in 2016, both for domestic consumption and for export to the sub-region, and output of phosphate rock was 473,000 tonnes in 2016; Senegal is a hub for processing this into phosphoric acid, the key ingredient in fertiliser.
  • Senegal has a dynamic horticultural goods sector which is seeking to challenge the dominance of Kenya and Ethiopia for market share of the EU’s organic fruit and vegetable market.


  • Togo is a major trade hub for the West African region.
  • Phosphate is Togo’s most valuable mineral export, representing up to 11% of foreign exchange earnings; a total of 846,091 tonnes was exported in 2016, most of which went to India and Canada
  • Togo is a major exporter of cement (US$137mn in 2016), cotton (US$53mn) and phosphate rock (US$81mn), most of which is produced in Togo; it is also a re-exporter of imported goods including plastics (worth US$95mn), vehicles and machinery (US$76mn), cosmetics (US$49mn), with the majority going to neighbouring Ghana and Nigeria.

Source: APO

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