The region comprising Nigeria and the Rest of West Africa stretches from Gambia in the West to Nigeria in the East. The region encompasses the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ), which draws together the mostly English-speaking countries of West Africa. WAMZ was created as a counterbalance to the CFA Franc Zone which surrounds it, but it has yet to achieve the same level of integration.
WAMZ is made up of six countries, dominated by Nigeria which accounts for an estimated 90% of regional GDP and of exports (mostly crude oil). Ghana is the other key member of the block, owing to its significant exports of cocoa and gold, while Gambia, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are relatively minor players. Like the CFA Franc Zone, WAMZ was created with the objective of boosting regional trade and integration, and there are long term plans to create a single market and currency. However, given the dominance of Nigeria, the different stages of economic development of member countries, and the reluctance by key markets to relinquish monetary policy autonomy, there has been little progress with integrating its economies to date.
Given the dominance of Nigeria in WAMZ, hydrocarbons dominate exports, although their contribution to each country’s real GDP is much smaller than their contribution to FX revenues. Outside of the oil and gas sector, the region is a major producer of soft commodities – cocoa, cashew nuts, natural rubber (NR) and wood – both for regional consumption and for export to world markets. The region is also an important exporter of hard minerals, including gold, manganese, iron and aluminium ores, and diamonds.
The region is also a financial hub, holding an estimated 39% of Middle Africa’s banking assets in 2015, dominated by Nigeria (34% of Middle Africa’s total). Nigeria and Ghana host two of the largest stock exchanges in Africa, in Lagos and Accra, respectively, which are both supported by a large banking sector.