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One continent under trade


The Niger river begins its 4,200 kilometre course in Guinea, runs up north through much of Mali, takes a sharp turn south into Niger Republic, narrowly avoiding Burkina Faso, runs along the border of Benin Republic, before entering Nigeria where it finally empties into the Atlantic Ocean through the oil rich Niger Delta. Yet this river – longer than the Volga, the longest river in Europe – has played almost no role in intra-African trade history. Aside from taking many sharp turns, the river’s gradient sharply decreases in Mali and loses two-thirds of its flow as a result.

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