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Regional trade and economic networks in West Africa

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  • WALTHER Olivier

Abstract

To date, most of the literature on economic networks in West Africa has considered networks in a metaphorical way. The aim of this paper is to go one step further by showing how network analysis may be applied to the study of regional trade in West Africa. After a brief review of the literature, this exploratory paper investigates two main issues related to regional trade. We start by discussing how recent developments in regional trade in West Africa, brought on by urbanization, liberalization, and globalization, have contributed to challenging the social structure of traders. We then discuss the changes that have affected the spatiality of regional trade by looking at the influence of spatial location and geographic scale on traders? abilities to trade. In both cases, we argue that the value of social network analysis in exploring how traders have progressively adapted to social and spatial changes in economic activities has been greatly underestimated. Through the combination of social and spatial ties, we ultimately show that the structural position of economic actors can be used to reassess the centrality of places. By doing so, the relational approach developed in this paper invites scholarship to reconsider the geographic organization of West African societies.

Suggested Citation

  • WALTHER Olivier, 2012. "Regional trade and economic networks in West Africa," LISER Working Paper Series 2012-07, LISER.
  • Handle: RePEc:irs:cepswp:2012-07
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Greif, Avner, 1989. "Reputation and Coalitions in Medieval Trade: Evidence on the Maghribi Traders," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(04), pages 857-882, December.
    2. Aker, Jenny C. & Klein, Michael W. & O'Connell, Stephen A. & Yang, Muzhe, 2014. "Borders, ethnicity and trade," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, pages 1-16.
    3. Marcel Fafchamps, 2004. "Market Institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa: Theory and Evidence," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262062364, January.
    4. Fafchamps, Marcel & Gavian, Sarah, 1997. "The Determinants of Livestock Prices in Niger," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 6(2), pages 255-295, July.
    5. Zephyr, 2010. "The city," City, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(1-2), pages 154-155, February.
    6. Yasuyuki Todo & Petr Matous & Dagne Mojo, 2015. "Effects of social network structure on the diffusion and adoption of agricultural technology: Evidence from rural Ethiopia," Working Papers 1505, Waseda University, Faculty of Political Science and Economics.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    regional trade; economic networks; social network analysis; border markets; West Africa;

    JEL classification:

    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration
    • L26 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Entrepreneurship
    • N77 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - Africa; Oceania
    • N97 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - Africa; Oceania
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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