Urbanism at the Margins – Centering African Border Towns and Cities


The African Borderlands Research Network (ABORNE) organizes an international conference on African border towns and cities at the University of Lomé this month.

The two-day conference will consider the full spectrum of urbanism from border towns to full-blown cities, with a view to shedding light on how the border setting shapes urban forms, livelihoods and aesthetics and the manner in which urban connectivity shapes the borderlands as lived spaces.

Marie Trémolière and I will be presenting a new paper in which we show that West African border cities are smaller but grow faster than other cities in the region. Our colleagues Lawali Dambo and Moustapha Koné from the University of Niamey, Niger, will present two other papers on health, business and accessibility in border cities.

The final program can be downloaded here: ABORNE-final-program-2019.


Trade networks and gender in West Africa

Lawali Gaya 2018 (115)

In West Africa, interpersonal networks between entrepreneurs make food systems both economically efficient and socially unequal

In a new paper published with Michel Tenikue and Marie Trémolières in World Development today, we show that economic performance is statistically correlated with centrality in the network. The most prosperous actors in the rice network are those who have established numerous ties within and beyond their community.

The paper also confirms that gender generates many inequalities that limit women’s participation in the food system. Women’s income is lower than men’s because the structure of business relations within trade networks imposes an unequal division of labor based on gender.

While many previous studies have shown that women were marginalized in agricultural supply chains in West Africa, our study is the first to identify all the individual actors involved in a supply chain and highlight how their structural position is constrained by gender.

In a business environment where strong cultural barriers are imposed on women activities, comparative advantages that would promote economic efficiency within agricultural supply chains appear far less important than gender.

The diffusion of violence in the Sahel-Sahara

MalanvilleLeo2017 (4)

In the West African Sahel and Sahara, armed groups do not limit their attacks to a particular sanctuary, territory or “turf” as urban gangs might. Instead, they move relatively freely across the region, including across state boundaries, and strike at locations that are often far away from each other.

The hostages liberated this month by French special forces in Burkina Faso, for example, had been captured in northern Benin and were believed to be handed over to the militant group Katiba Macina in Mali.

The mobility of these armed groups makes prediction particularly challenging. When and where might an attack by a particular group occur? How does distance affect the mobility of armed groups? What is the cost associated with having to cross borders to conduct an attack in a neighboring country?

We address these issues in a recent paper published in Terrorism & Political Violence, in which we explore the spatial and temporal diffusion of political violence in the region. We wish to understand what motivates or constrains a group leader to attack at a location other than the one that would yield the greatest overt payoff. To do so, we employ a relatively new approach known as spectral embedding, that allows us to measure the impact of distance and borders on the patterns of violent attacks in the region.

An interesting finding of our work is to show that some of the most violent places in the region are far from inhabited areas, such as the extreme north of Mali or the north-eastern reaches of Niger. Instead of thinking of conflicts as a function of place per se, we can now think of conflicts as a function of movement. Since movement, unlike place, is not fixed, strategic consideration can now be given to ways to influence, alter, or disperse some movements while generating and encouraging others.

Conflict has long been known to be dynamic. Our paper posits a method to model that dynamism, one that makes it possible to respond to conflict and violence in terms of strategic consideration of movement rather than simple spatial coordinates.

CFP: Urbanism at the Margins – Centering African Border Towns and Cities


The African Borderlands Research Network (ABORNE) organizes its 2019 Annual Meeting on ‘Urbanism at the Margins – Centering African Border Towns and Cities’ at the University of Lomé, Togo from 16-18 September.

The deadline for submission of abstracts is Friday 7th June 2019.

Workshop theme

Since 2007, ABORNE has hosted an annual workshop or conference on a theme relating to borders and borderlands in Africa. In 2019, the theme will be “Urbanism at the Margins: Centering African Border Towns and Cities”, which is a curiously neglected topic.

In the past decade, there has been a significant uptake in studies of the African city, informed in large part by the realities of demographic expansion and projections for the future of Africa’s urbanization. The focus has in large part been directed towards capital cities, and increasingly towards mega-cities whose emergence is confidently predicted.

What urban studies has not done sufficiently is to engage with the unfolding realities of urbanism at the geographical margins. A number of Africa’s capital cities and projected mega-cities are located on, or close to, international borders – including Kinshasa, Lagos and Lomé. With cross-border trade and investment in long-distance transport corridors on the rise, Africa’s border towns are some of the smaller but fastest-growing urban areas on the continent.

By bringing urban and border studies into closer dialogue, the aspiration is to advance the debate within two sub-fields that tend to revolve in different orbits. The workshop will consider the full spectrum of urbanism from border towns to full-blown cities, with a view to shedding light on (a) the ways in which the border setting shapes urban forms, livelihoods and aesthetics and (b) the manner in which urban connectivity shapes the borderlands as lived spaces.

The workshop organizers welcome proposals from across the Humanities and Social Sciences that directly and explicitly contribute to the workshop theme. Papers that consider both sides of a border or take a comparative look at different towns and cities would be especially welcome. The following is an indicative list of topics, but should not be considered prescriptive:

  • The changing urban demography of African borderlands
  • Representations of the border town/city in literature and film
  • Trade, markets and livelihoods in border towns/cities
  • Transport, infrastructure and mobility in border towns/cities
  • Urban cross-border communication in the era of social media
  • Urban cross-border competition and cooperation from below
  • Commuting and citizenship in border towns/cities
  • Language and border urbanism

Practicalities & deadlines

The deadline for submission of abstracts is Friday 7th June 2019. Please send a MS Word document in English or French containing: author’s name, affiliation, e-mail address, a paper title, and a clear and concise abstract of max. 250 words to:,, and The scientific committee will select those contributions which best fit the theme of the call for papers and selected participants will be notified by 14th June 2019.

The deadline for sending full papers is 2nd September 2019.

The organizers have secured core funding from AEGIS to partially cover accommodation and food expenses, but most participants will be asked to contribute to the workshop expenses by paying a registration fee of €35 – and to cover their own travel and hotel expenses. Per diems cannot be offered. When submitting your abstract, please indicate if you cannot attend the conference without subsidies. The expected number of participants is 15-25.

Paper presentations will take place from the morning of 16th to the afternoon of 17th September 2019. An optional excursion across the Togo-Ghana border is planned for 18th September.

Participants are expected to make their own visa arrangements for entry to Togo (and Ghana if they wish to participate in the excursion). Flight and hotel bookings should also be made by participants.

For any other questions, please contact Professor Paul Nugent or Dr. Kokou Azamede.

Download the official call in English Cfp 2019 ABORNE Lome final and in French: CfP 2019 ABORNE Lome_FR

Towards a more regional approach to health in West Africa

MalanvilleLeo2017 (1)

Sub-Saharan Africa has made tremendous progress on health since the beginning of the 2000s. Mortality rates, for example, have decreased rapidly, and, as a consequence, the average life expectancy has increased from 50 to 60 years in the last 15 years.

Yet, our new study on border cities found that health infrastructure are very unequally distributed across the region. States tend to concentrate most of their top tier facilities in capital cities and as a result there are fewer health facilities in border areas.

The fact that border regions are less equipped than other regions is a matter of concern for national cohesion and regional integration. Each country distributes its health facilities based on its financial capacity without explicitly considering international patients.

Our study has identified several regions where health services could be improved through closer collaboration between the countries in the region. One of the regions is the Senegal river region, where most high-level facilities are located on the Senegalese side of the border.

To address this unequal distribution of health facilities, new centers could be constructed, as between Mali and Burkina Faso, where a cross-border health center was funded by the German Cooperation. Existing infrastructure could also be improved, as in the Liptako Gourma between Niger, Burkina and Mali, where a number of small health centers could be upgraded to better serve the local population.

Delays and checkpoints reduce accessibility in West Africa

MalanvilleOlivier2017 (22)

Wait times at borders make cities far less accessible.

Between Mali, Burkina and Côte d’Ivoire, or in the Futa Jalon, for example, the population that could be reached decreases by 25% because of wait times at borders.

This is one of the main findings of our new study on border cities in West Africa, in which we calculated how many people could be reached from border cities, taking into account wait times at border crossings and the existence of illegal checkpoints.

Another interesting finding is that checkpoints established by the police, gendarmerie, or customs authorities also reduce the potential market of border cities. For some cities along the Gulf of Guinea, where the largest road corridor of the region is located, checkpoints reduce accessibility by more than half.

These practices create substantial delays and additional costs for traders, transporters, consumers and also for West African states. They increase the already high transport prices in the region, which affects the final price paid at the market. Checkpoints and wait times are also among the leading complaints expressed by local populations.

In one of our surveys, we found that more than one third of farmers and traders identified illegal payments as the main obstacle to their economic activities. Finally, corrupt practices also result in lost revenues for governments, since many fines are in fact paid informally.

The new Malian government


Mali has a new government. But have things really changed all that much?

The table below compares the ministers appointed by Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubèye Maïga in September 2018 with the list published by the government of Boubou Cissé on May 5, 2019.

It shows that the newly appointed government counts 36 ministers (and two state secretaries), against 32 in 2018. Thirteen ministers appointed by the previous government still have a job in 2019. Eight additional ministers simply moved to another ministry. In total, two-thirds of the ministers of the 2018 cabinet (21/32) are still in office this year. So, the more things change, the more they stay the same?

Download the complete dataset here: ministers-mali-2018-2019.

Ministries in September 2018 Ministries in May 2019 Ministers in September 2018 Ministers in May 2019
Administration territoriale et de la Décentralisation Administration territoriale et de la Décentralisation Mohmed Ag Erlaf Boubacar Alpha Ba
Affaires étrangères et de la Coopération internationale Affaires étrangères et de la Coopération internationale Kamissa Camara Tiébilé Drame
Affaires religieuses et du Culte Affaires religieuses et du Culte Thierno Amadou Omar Hass Diallo Thierno Amadou Omar Hass Diallo
Agriculture Agriculture Nango Dembelé Moulaye Ahmed Boubacar
Plan et de l’Aménagement du Territoire Aménagement du Territoire et de la Population Adama Tiémoko Diarra Adama Tiémoko Diarra
Artisanat et du Tourisme Artisanat et du Tourisme Nina Walet Intallou Nina Walet Intallou
Cohésion sociale, de la Paix et de la Réconciliation nationale Cohésion sociale, de la Paix et de la Réconciliation nationale Lassine Bouaré Lassine Bouaré
Communication, chargé des Relations avec les Institutions, Porte-parole du Gouvernement Yaya Sangaré
Culture Culture N’Diaye Ramatoulaye Diallo N’Diaye Ramatoulaye Diallo
Défense et des anciens combattants Défense et des anciens combattants Tiémoko Sangaré Ibrahim Dahirou Dembélé
Délégué auprès du Premier ministre, chargé du Budget Barry Aoua Sylla
Travail et de la Fonction publique, chargé des Relations avec les Institutions Dialogue Social, du Travail et de la Fonction publique Diarra Raky Talla Oumar Hamadoun Dicko
Domaines et des Affaires foncières Alioune Badara Berthe
Economie et des Finances Economie et des Finances Boubou Cissé Boubou Cissé
Economie numérique et de la Communication Economie numérique et de la Prospective Arouna Modibo Touré Kamissa Camara
Education nationale Education nationale Abinou Témè Témoré Tioulenta
Elevage et de la Pêche Elevage et de la Pêche Kané Rokia Maguiraga Kané Rokia Maguiraga
Emploi et de la Formation professionnelle Jean-Claude Sidibé
Energie et de l’Eau Energie et de l’Eau Sambou Wagué Sambou Wagué
Innovation et de la Recherche scientifique Enseignement Supérieur et de la Recherche Scientifique Assétou Founè Samake Migan Mahamadou Famanta
Environnement, de l’Assainissement et du Développement durable Environnement, de l’Assainissement et du Développement durable Keita Aida M’Bo Housseïni Amion Guindo
Habitat et de l’Urbanisme Habitat, de l’Urbanisme et du Logement social Mohamed Moustapha Sidibé Hama Ould Sidi Mohamed Arbi
Commerce et de la Concurrence Industrie et du Commerce Alhassane Ag Ahmed Moussa Mohamed Ag Erlaf
Infrastructures et de l’Equipement Infrastructures et de l’Equipement Traoré Seynabou Diop Traoré Seynabou Diop
Intégration africaine Baber Gano
Jeunesse, de l’Emploi et de la Construction citoyenne Jeunesse et des Sports Amadou Koïta Arouna Modibo Touré
Justice,  Garde des Sceaux Justice et des Droits de l’Homme, Garde des Sceaux Tienan Coulibaly Malick Coulibaly
Maliens de l’Extérieur et de l’Intégration africaine Maliens de l’Extérieur Yaya Sangaré Amadou Koïta
Mines et du Pétrole Mines et du Pétrole Lelenta Hawa Baba Ba Lelenta Hawa Baba Ba
Ministre chargé des Réformes institutionnelles et des Relations avec la Société civile Amadou Thiam
Développement industriel et de la Promotion des Investissements Promotion de l’Investissement privé, des Petites et Moyennes Entreprises et de l’Entreprenariat national Moulaye Ahmed Boubacar Safia Boly
Promotion de la Femme, de l’Enfant et de la Famille Promotion de la Femme, de l’Enfant et de la Famille Diakité Aissata Traoré Diakité Aissata Traoré
Santé et de l’Hygiène publique Santé et des Affaires sociales Samba Ousmane Sow Michel Hamala Sidibé
Secrétaire d’Etat auprès du Ministre de l’Agriculture, chargé de l’Aménagement et de l’Equipement rural Adama Sangaré
Secrétaire d’Etat auprès du Ministre de l’Education nationale, chargé de la Promotion et de l’Intégration de l’Enseignement bilingue Moussa Boubacar Bah
Sécurité et de la Protection Civile Sécurité et de la Protection Civile Salif Traoré Salif Traoré
Solidarité et de l’Action humanitaire Solidarité et de la Protection civile Hamadou Konaté Hamadou Konaté
Transports Transports et de la Mobilité urbaine Soumana Mory Coulibaly Ibrahima Abdoul Ly
Sports Jean Claude Sidibé
Réforme de l’Administration et de la Transparence de la Vie publique Safia Boly

Rivalries between Dogon and Fulani in Central Mali


Last month, a Dogon militia massacred 160 Fulani near Bankass in central Mali, more than 1000 km from Bamako. Condemned by the international community, this incident led the Malian President to sack two generals and dissolve Dan Na Ambassagou, the group suspected of originating the attack. Amid growing pressure on insecurity in the country, this event also contributed to the resignation of the Malian government on April 18.

Traditional hunter associations (donzo ton) have played an increasing role in contemporary West African politics. In the 1990s, they emerged in northern Côte d’Ivoire when the state proved unable to confront rising criminality and fought alongside government troops in Sierra Leone. Traditional hunters have also been used to protect unstable borders or fight against poaching in natural parks in Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire. In recent years, as Thomas Basset has shown, hunters associations have become more politicized. Far from limiting themselves to assisting dysfunctional states in restoring order, they can also take arms against states if the political situation deteriorates.

Very little is known about the Dan Na Ambassagou militia, whose name translates as “Hunters who trust in God” in Dogon and who denies the attack. Some commentators have argued that the development of religious extremism in central Mali has fueled the attack. Ethnic militias, they argue, increasingly target Fulani populations, which they accuse of supporting jihadist groups, such as the Macina Liberation Front (FLM) run by Amadou Koufa, now affiliated with the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM).

The local roots of conflict

The development of religious extremism is obviously not the only cause of violence in Central Mali. Conflicts have many causes, which combine differently in different regions. In what follows, I argue that more attention should be paid to the local factors that can potentially explain why ethnic militias develop in this part of Mali. The recent history of Central Mali shows that periods of contraction resulting from the withdrawal of nomadic and sedentary groups are followed by periods of trade or agricultural expansion.

In the Séno-Gondo plain, where the massacre of Ogossagou and Welingara took place last month, the expansion of the Fulani in the 19th century led Dogon farmers to withdraw from their villages on the plain and adopt defensive settlements in the Bandiagara Cliff. In the 20th century, the descendants of these farmers have moved eastwards to fill the void left by the Fulani and have given rise to an agricultural front that they regard as their original lands.

The Bandiagara Cliff at Banani. Source: © Walther (1996)


The Fulani expansion

The Dogon arrived in the Bandiagara area in the 15th century and dispersed into relatively autonomous communities that colonized not only the Bandiagara cliff and plateau but also the vast plain of Séno-Gondo, a sandy area east of the cliff that provided fertile ground for cereals, abundant water resources and nutritious wild fruit. Some of the oldest Dogon villages were established in the Séno-Gondo plain, such as Diankabou, whose language (diamsay) is still considered as one of the lingua franca of the Bandiagara Cliff and Séno plain. This first colonization of Séno-Gondo followed a principle common to many pioneering fronts of West Africa according to which land belongs to the first people to establish an inalienable agreement with the deities of the place.

The Séno-Gondo plain and the village of Nombori. Source: © Walther (2001)


This agricultural expansion was short-lived. In 1818, a Fulani conqueror named Seku Amadu founded the Empire of Massina (Diina) and a new capital, Hamdullahi, located southeast of Mopti. The Massina Empire gradually extended from Segou in the south to Timbuktu in the north. Like many other precolonial political formations, the Massina Empire maintained fuzzy peripheries where pagan peoples were either converted to Islam by force or enslaved.

The Fulani used their cavalry to raid the Dogon plateau and the plain of Séno-Gondo, destroying the crops of the farmers and enslaving the local populations. In response, the Dogon built spectacular fortress villages in the Bandiagara Cliff, a World Heritage site listed by UNESCO in 1989. Those who remained in the plain of Séno-Gondo became the serfs of the Fulani (rimaïbé). Further north, in the Hombori Mountains, the warriors of Seku Amadu also tried to impose Islam by force on the Dogon populations, who took refuge in perched villages or in the surrounding bush.

Hombori Tondo, the highest point in Mali (1155 m). Source: © Projet Hombori (2003)


The Dogon could hardly count on their military strength to defeat the Fulani. Instead, they allied themselves with El Hadj Umar Tall, a Toucouleur conqueror from Futa Toro in the valley of the Senegal River who conquered the city of Hamdullahi in 1862. El Hadj Umar Tall’s nephew, Tidjiani Tall, settled in Bandiagara where he ensured the fidelity of the Dogon. The French arrived in the region in 1893 and supported the Toucouleur in their fight against the Fulani of Massina. The fall of the Massina Empire and subsequent French colonization allowed the Dogon to resume their expansion in the plain of Séno-Gondo at the expense of the Fulani. The small city of Bankass near Ogossagou and Welingara quickly became a market where Toucouleur families settled.

Colonization and the Dogon expansion

Soon after having created the administrative Cercle de Bandiagara in 1903, the French tried to prevent the Dogon from migrating to the Séno-Gondo plain. The colonial administration feared that the local political chiefs would lose control over the population and would no longer be able to collect tax. France, however, never had the means to counter the Dogon migration and merely counted the migrants at their village of origin until 1958, which minimized the magnitude of the migratory movement towards the plain in the colonial demographic statistics.

During this second colonization of the Séno-Gondo plain, the Dogon reclaimed the lands their clans possessed before the Fulani conquest of the 19th century. Numerous families left what was known at the time as the Old Dogon Country to settle in the New Country east of the Bandiagara Cliff. As the maps of Jean Gallais show, each of the old Dogon villages developed a colonization corridor roughly perpendicular to the cliff. The villagers of the Togo clan of Kani, for example, established Kani-Kombolé at the cliff’s foot before settling a few kilometers away from their village of origin in the direction of Bankass.

Some parts of the plain were more favorable than others to agriculture. In the north, the sand of the erg of Séno-Mango was too deep to allow access to the water table and agriculture only occupied the cultivable land near the cliff. In some other parts of the plain, as in the Bankass region, the agricultural expansion was also encouraged by a handful of fortified Dogon villages that had resisted to the Fulani.

New and old village of Téli, Bandiagara Cliff. Source: © Walther (2001)


Agricultural rivalries today

The independence of Mali in 1960 did not challenge the colonization of the Séno-Gondo plain by the Dogon. While the Bandiagara Cliff became known as a tourist destination, the plain transformed into an agricultural front where competition for land and water between farmers and herders was increasingly fierce. Weakened by the Toucouleur, the Fulani of the Séno-Gondo plain were divided by internal rivalries and never managed to contain the demographic and economic expansion of the Dogon. As a result, they progressively lost most of their cattle and turned to agriculture or small livestock that could be raised around the villages. Politically, the Fulani could also not match the political support that the Dogon found at all levels of the state hierarchy.

In recent decades, the Dogon migration from the cliff towards the Séno-Gondo plain has intensified due to demographic growth. New crops have replaced the pastures of the Fulani, whose way of life is now threatened by a lack of investment in the pastoral sector and recurring droughts. The presence of the Malian state in the region has also diminished as insecurity in the center of the country increases. This explosive context encourages ethnic militias to capitalize on the fear of religious extremism to promote their local objectives. As Robert Bates noted a decade ago “When states are stable, property rights are secure; when states begin to fail, citizens turn to other sources for their protection”. Armed militias such as the Dogon “hunters” exemplify how state failure can lead to an increasing ethnicization of violence. This is hardly new.

The current militarization observed in Mali is unlikely to provide a lasting response to these conflicts, whose roots lie in the power relations between local communities. In the Séno-Gondo, as elsewhere in Mali, the beginning of a political solution involves the reestablishment of state and community institutions capable of guaranteeing that farmers and pastoralists have equal access to land resources, education, and political representation.​


More than 40 years after its publication, Jean Gallais’ Pasteurs et Paysans du Gourma. La Condition Sahélienne (CNRS, 1975) remains an indispensable reference on the spatial organization of the Inner Niger Delta and its peripheries.

More recent studies include Véronique Petit’s Migrations et Société Dogon (L’Harmattan, 1998), Jean-Christophe Huet’s Villages Perchés des Dogons du Mali (L’Harmattan, 1994), our own work, and Bénédicte Thibaud’s study of the Gourma in Les Cahiers d’Outre-Mer, 2011. On the Hombori Mountains, see the Hombori Project website and our own work.

Olivier Walther, April 24, 2019.

Women and trade networks in West Africa


Women play a crucial role in the West African food economy. Yet, their trade networks remain often unknown. Our new study contributes to fill this gap by providing the first comprehensive analysis of the structure of West African social networks in which women play a particularly central role.

Our report published by the OECD last week identifies both the socio-economic barriers that restrict the opportunities of women in the rice supply chain, and the constraints that affect the governance networks aimed at promoting women’s entrepreneurship in the region.

The study shows that the general structure of business relations within the rice network imposes an unequal division of labor based on gender. The most prosperous actors in the rice network are those who have established numerous ties within and beyond their community. Women earn far less and are less central in the rice trade network than men.

Our work also shows that the governance network supporting women entrepreneurs in West Africa has a relatively dense center composed of international organisations, some West African countries and western partners that are at the heart of a wide range of initiatives. However, very few well-connected organisations can play an intermediary role at the regional level and the exchange of information between them is fragmented. We argue that the fragmentation of the governance network contributes to weak co-ordination of development policies designed to help women entrepreneurs in the region.

The study was part of the “Cities and Borders” project funded by the OECD from 2017-2018 which I coordinated with my colleague Leonardo A. Villalón at the University of Florida, Marie Trémolières at the OECD, Leena Hoffmann at Chatham House, and Lawali Dambo and Moustapha Koné at the University of Niamey, Niger.


Border cities in West Africa


The OECD just released a series of four papers on West African border cities. These papers are part of the “Cities and Borders” project that my colleague Leonardo A. Villalón and I coordinated from 2017-2018 in the region.

The papers provide a systematic analysis of the role West African border cities play in the process of regional integration. Based on a multidimensional mapping of 18 countries, they analyze the local dynamics that have developed in urban areas, the impact distance has on national cohesion and the impact territorial divisions have at the international level.

At the local level, the study of demographic and morphological changes identifies the effects density has on border cities. It shows that since 1950, the growth of border cities has almost always been greater than that of other cities in the region. This rapid growth has been especially visible within 50 km of national borders, where the most dynamic markets are located. Our work also confirms that border cities emerged without a concerted development plan and remain very dependent on each other.

At the national level, we studies the impact of distance on health services and formal businesses. Our work shows that the potential of harmonizing the health policies of the different countries has been largely untapped. The mapping of formal businesses specializing in certain sectors of strategic importance to regional integration shows that most are located in political and/or economic capitals where decisions are made concerning customs policies as well as import/re‑export strategies, and where major transportation and communications infrastructure is located. The lack of public investment in health services as well as roadway and education infrastructure in border regions can potentially pose major problems for national cohesion.

At the international level, we looked at the effects of territorial divisions using an accessibility model. The results show that the population base for border cities could be 14% larger if border crossings did not impact the flow of goods and people and 12 to 50% larger without roadside checkpoints. Between Benin, Niger and Nigeria, an analysis of the condition of the road network shows that the combined population base of eight border cities would increase by one third if there were no waiting at the borders. An exhaustive list of adjacent border posts in place or planned by national governments or regional organisations throughout sub-Saharan Africa further shows that trade facilitation runs up against the special interests of public servants and private-sector actors making a living from regional integration frictions. In West Africa in particular, few states are now able to benefit from the newly built border post structures in the region, most of which are not operational.