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The Sahel

Sahel 2043: A Prospective Analysis for the Structural Transformation Agenda of the Sahel Region

The Sahel is widely viewed as a region fraught with conflict and intractable development challenges. But this crisis narrative tells only one side of the story. The less untold story is that the Sahel is endowed with abundant natural and human resources, that managed equitably and sustainably, could turn the region’s fortunes around. These resources can be harnessed to propel the Sahel towards a sustained and inclusive development that leaves no one behind in the region.


The scale and complexity of the Sahel’s challenges call for a major paradigm shift: breaking out of silos, addressing conflict dynamics, and streamlining institutional partnerships to effectively coordinate efforts to build an inclusive and resilient future for the Sahel. Millennium Institute partnered with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the African Futures Institute, and other UN and regional agencies working in the Sahel on development of the SAHEL 2043, a prospective study that provides a comprehensive and forward-looking analysis and set of coherent strategic orientations to national and international partners to act more effectively to catalyze the structural transformation of the Sahel.

Key Policies and Reccomendations

  • Promote inclusive governance for better living together. Governance should include not only the elements of the political competence of the nation states of the region, but also include leadership capacity in self-organization and the legitimacy to do so. Promoting inclusive governance for better living together would strengthen social cohesion in countries and relations between Sahel countries, and then develop the culture of peace and promote citizenship. Attention must also be paid to the power of religious leaders, because they occupy a place of influence in the Sahelian societies. 

  • Improve human capital and seize the opportunity for demographic dividend. The low productivity of the Sahel economies is in part, the result of the ineffectiveness of education systems. Because of their importance in the development of human capital, education, training and information must be a priority to all stakeholders – they are essential for building the skillsets and capacities of Sahel countries to have the quantity and quality of human capital needed for the structural transformation of the economies and countries of the region. Development of human capital involves not only increasing the resources allocated to education, but also improving the efficiency of the system. 

  • Transform economic structures. The key element in the structural transformation of African economies is the industrialization of Africa. It involves the adoption of proactive and targeted industrial policies to support emerging industries. It would also be supported by a profound transformation of agriculture through water control, improved management, and use of technology in methods and products. Regional integration would allow the emergence of regional champions on value chains that can compete globally. Similarly, regional integration will enhance international bargaining capacity and better protect the interests of emerging new industries. Ultimately, regional integration will gradually remove barriers to industrialization through trade. 

  • Promote inclusive development. Policies targeting the most marginalized and vulnerable areas and populations (rural areas, women, young people, the disabled, refugees, migrants, etc.) should be pursued. These policies should make it possible to eliminate obstacles specific to the various vulnerable groups, particularly through access to training, information and financing. Particular attention needs to be given to women's economic empowerment to reduce economic inequalities and improve access to production resources, finances and social services. 

  • Enhance the resilience capacities of the Sahel. In the face of the Sahel’s vulnerability to many shocks, it is important for actors in the region to work towards enhancing its resilience. Efforts should be directed at, among other things, implementing national and harmonized regional climate change mitigation and adaptation plans; strengthening national and regional capacities for forecasting, anticipating, monitoring and responding to crises and natural disasters; establishing integrated emergency response and recovery mechanisms for natural disasters or security crises; and improving research and developing new technologies for production and consumption.

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