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West Africa Civil Society Institute Strengthening Civil Society

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Civil Society and Knowledge Management in West Africa

This is a background paper prepared for the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) workshop on “Managing Knowledge for Policy Influence in West Africa”, 8 April 2013, Accra, Ghana.

The Politics of Regional Integration in West Africa

Regional integration processes are today, more than ever before, driven by the pre-eminence of the forces of globalisation in the post Cold War international system. As a result, no part of the world or section of humanity would like to be left behind or marginalised by other regions, or to be classified among the ‗wretched of the earth‘. Thus successful integration will enable weaker regions and states to properly equip themselves for the fierce competition among regions and states in the 21st Century. The rest of this section discusses pertinent issues on how to consolidate the gains made by ECOWAS in the last thirty six years to move the regional integration agenda forward.

Read this volume of WACSI's WACSeries; Vol 2 no. 2 for a detailed analysis.

“Reviewing the 50+ Years of Women’s Participation in Politics in Nigeria”

Nigeria attained its independence from the British in 1960 and celebrated its 50th anniversary on October 1, 2010. Fifty years down the line the statistics of women‟s representation in politics and decision making remains abysmally poor. No woman has ever occupied the position of President or Vice President neither has any been elected governor of any of the thirty six states. In fifty years, Nigeria has had only seven female deputy governors. The highest representation women have had in the Federal Executive Council is 20% in the 2007 – 2011 Cabinet.

The highest number women have attained in the Senate is nine out of the one hundred and nine members i.e. 8.3%. Worse still, in the House of Representatives of three hundred and sixty members, there are only twenty seven women, constituting a paltry 7.5%.Out of sixty three political parties, in 2010 only one, the United National Party for Development (UNPD) has a female Chairperson.


Civil society activism in Sierra Leone has a long history; indeed as an integral part of democratic expression in a modern state, it is probably the oldest in English‐speaking West Africa. Sierra Leone produced West Africa’s first newspaper, the Royal Gazette and Sierra Leone Advertiser, in 1801, as well as the region’s first lawyers and modern legal system, all in the nineteenth century. These two core institutions – legal and journalism – have been active in the country throughout its modern existence, surviving the colonial period, one‐party state, coups, and a brutal ‘rebel’ war; and sometimes acting, in the absence of viable political opposition/parties, as representatives of ordinary, ‘voiceless’ people.

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