Africa in general is important to America's future, and the U.S. government over the past two Administrations have realized this fact. There is no reason to think that the current Administration does not see this as well, and not only because of the ethnic background of the President. However, West Africa is particularly critical in U.S. policy formulations.
Eight of the top 20 American trading partners in Africa are in West Africa. The countries with the largest expatriate populations in America are mostly in West Africa, including Nigeria, Liberia and Ghana. West Africa peacekeepers are among the most proficient and sought-after, not only in Africa, but globally. ECOWAS is the African regional economic community that appears to be closest to meeting its goals of economic integration and can and should play a major role in facilitating progress among its fellow RECs.
U.S. policy will surely always take into account Nigeria - the continent's most populous nation and American top African trading partner. But we must not slight other West African countries, such as Ghana, Senegal, Cote 'dIvoire, Mali, Liberia and their neighbors. U.S.-Africa trade will be built from West Africa outward because of its proximity to Africa and the viability of enhanced transportation links.
In building an American Africa policy, West Africa is the logical building block. On this platform can be constructed an ever more vibrant relationship with the nations of Africa.