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US Attacks: West African Economic Fears - 2001-09-14


Nations of West Africa are expressing concern about economic and other repercussions following this week's terrorist attacks in the United States.

After condolences and expressions of solidarity from every nation in West Africa, governments and economists in the region are turning their attention to the consequences that the attacks will have on the sub-regions

Experts here say the damage was so great that West African economies will inevitably be hurt. Economist Kuami Piannim in the capital of Ghana, Accra, tells VOA that oil prices are already threatening to disrupt growth.

"We are basically producers of raw materials, [primarily], cocoa," Mr. Piannim says. "Between Cote d'Ivoire and us, and the other West African countries. If prices weaken for such commodities, of course it affects us. When oil prices go up, a country like Ghana, which is non-oil producing, the impact on our foreign exchange earnings is very, very drastic. And, of course, it means almost grinding the economy to a halt. For Ghana, this event is really traumatic. But in the same way, we are hoping that the reaction from the U.S. will be measured and controlled.

Mr. Piannim says he fears that a possible U.S. retaliation would further aggravate economic conditions across the world, including West Africa.

Even Nigeria, which has an advantage as one of the world's leading producers of oil, fears it will be hurt by Tuesday's events in the United States.

A Nigerian diplomat, who did not wish to be identified, said that, while Nigeria would normally celebrate a rise in oil prices, there is concern in the country that U.S. aid to Africa may be curtailed. The United States, the Nigerian diplomat says, will logically have its own needs to take care of.

New York, the scene of the deadliest attack, is home to thousands of Ghanaians, Senegalese, and other West African immigrants. Those in West Africa who have relatives in the United States have been watching the news closely, waiting to hear about loved ones. Already, the list of casualties has included nationals of countries like Sierra Leone and Ghana.

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