Spain's interest in the region is especially focused on cooperation. In the image, the cultural activities of the Spanish Embassy in Dakar
West Africa
West Africa is one of the priority areas for Spanish foreign policy. The region includes Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo. With the exception of Mauritania, all these countries make up the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the region's main integration organization

Since their independence, instability has marked the reality of many of the region's countries and, on numerous occasions, has led to civil wars in countries such as the Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, as well as a succession of coups d'état. In recent years, however, Western African countries have been able to progressively resolve their internal discrepancies by means of politics and democracy, and thus they have prevented armed conflicts. The most recent examples of this trend are the transition in Gambia in 2017, the peaceful, transparent elections held in Liberia in 2017 and 2018 and the ending of the political deadlock in Guinea-Bissau. All of this has turned West Africa into an example for the entire continent in terms of preventive diplomacy and the multilateral resolving of conflicts, especially within the framework of the ECOWAS.

The region also faces other important challenges such as drug smuggling, piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, where the pirates use increasingly more violent means which threaten the surrounding countries' ability to exploit and trade their resources. These challenges, which are a great concern for the international community, are slowly but surely being given multilateral solutions. Thus, projects such as the Yaoundé Process seek to involve countries in the Gulf of Guinea in the monitoring of this maritime region through the creation of regional control centres. Spain supports this initiative and participates in the G7++ Friends of the Gulf of Guinea group.

Likewise, terrorism and violent radicalism scourge the Chad Basin and Nigeria, the most populated nation in Africa where the radical Islamic sect Boko Haram fights to impose Islamic law. Once again, regional forces such as the Multinational Joint Task Force have enabled for the terrorist group to be successfully fought and their capacity to act reduced.

This gives rise to the statement that the region is becoming democratic, peaceful and is improving its multilateral structures. Moreover, the economic leadership of countries such as Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana and the Ivory Coast, with increasingly more prosperous and competitive economies, also shows the huge potential for growth in the region. This will be a key to give opportunities to citizens, and especially young people, without the need for them to abandon their homes.

West Africa is one of the priority regions of interest for Spanish foreign policy in Sub-Saharan Africa, where it has strengthened a strategic relation with the region's countries based on equality, mutual respect and respect for sovereignty. This relation is also reflected in the realm of Cooperation, above all in Senegal, the Sahel and the countries in the Gulf of Guinea. In this regard, the ECOWAS, as the building block for regional integration, is now considered by Spain as a leading organisation with which it now closely cooperates.

 

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