The specific characteristics of different global value chains (GVCs) shape the opportunities for firms in developing countries to participate in international trade and upgrade into more remunerative and sustainable economic activities. This paper aims to provide an understanding of West Africa’s potential for participation in GVCs. Upgrading strategies require identifying value chains in which West Africa has existing capabilities and that also offer dynamic markets, potential to support Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the most vulnerable countries in the region, and concrete upgrading opportunities in the near term. Through this approach, the paper identifies the value chains with the highest potential in the West African region as fish products, processed foods, and information and communications technology services. The author further puts forward recommendations which should inform policymaking and industrial strategies in the region with the objective of maximising the benefits of value chain participation from a sustainable development perspective.