The West Africa inequality crisis

How West African governments are failing to reduce inequality, and what should be done about it

Publication date: 9 July 2019
Author: Christian Hallum, Kwesi W. Obeng

Inequality is at crisis levels in West Africa. While a small but growing number of people are becoming fantastically rich, the vast majority are denied the most essential elements of a dignified life, such as quality education, healthcare and decent jobs, despite remarkable economic growth driven by extractive industries.

Oxfam’s Commitment to Reducing Inequality (CRI) Index shows that governments in West Africa are the least committed to reducing inequality of any on the continent. If they do not radically increase their commitment to reducing inequality, the crisis is likely to worsen.

This report argues that governments must promote progressive taxation, boost social spending, strengthen labour market protection, invest in agriculture and strengthen land rights for smallholders, while ECOWAS needs to prioritize tackling inequality and develop a regional action plan to drastically improve the region’s performance.