West Africa

The principal challenges facing the West African sub-region are those of conflict management, good governance and democracy and sustainable economic and social development. In terms of conflict management, the crisis in the Mano River Union (Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea) remains of concern. The sub-region also experiences a secessionist conflict in the southern Senegalese province of Casamance, as well as an international territorial dispute, namely the dispute between Nigeria and Cameroon over the Bakassi peninsula. The Mano River Union region, which has not yet recovered from the effects of long years of conflict, continues to see significant levels of displaced populations from the three states. The ECOWAS sub-region, supported by the OAU, is leading efforts to find solutions to conflict issues. South Africa endorses these ECOWAS efforts and continues to play a key role in addressing the issue of "conflict diamonds", through the Kimberley process, which seeks to end the use of illicit diamonds fuelling conflict, particularly in relation to Sierra Leone and Liberia.

In terms of democracy and good governance, South Africa actively supports initiatives aimed at promoting these ideals in West Africa and welcomes the successful democratic elections held in Mali and Sierra Leone during the month of May 2002. South Africa also continues to work closely with West African partners such as Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana and Mali in promoting the aims and objectives of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). The main economic and social development challenge remains poverty and lack of development in the sub-region. In this regard, South Africa is actively involved in the search for solutions to these problems, inter alia within the context of the vision of the African Renaissance and the objectives of NEPAD. There continues to be a steady increase in investments and bilateral trade with the region as well as an impetus towards having more structured official relationships with key West African state

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2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa