The West Africa Trade routes included the ancient time city's of Mali, Ghana, and Songhai. The goods traded around this area were mainly salt, camels, and gold.
This is the Songhai Empire at it's height when Sunni Ali was the Emperor. The Songhai Empire was the most recent of the three lasting from 1464 to 1591 C.E.
This is the Empire of Mali at it's peak when Mansa Musa was the Emperor. Mali was in the middle of the three in when it was existing, lasting from 1230 to 1600 C.E.
Empire of Ghana when it was at it's peak. Ghana was the first of the three, lasting from 300 to 1200 C.E.
Salt was a very common resource here and because of that, people traded salt because salt helped with diseases and if people's salt levels weren't enough then the person would get sick and then they would need to get salt in their bodies. Salt also kept meat good for longer periods of time so that people could store food. People might think why you would trade gold for salt but back in this time if you couldn't get salt you would get sick of food poisoning because they can't have salt as a seasoning nor to keep food good. People would also die because they don't have enough salt in their body.
If something is necessary to life and you have 30 dollars, you are starving and one thing to eat is 30 dollars and if you don't eat you will die you would spend the 30 dollars to keep you alive and that is the same for the salt because the salt is hard to get so if somebody has gold and that is it then they would spend the gold on salt because salt is necessary even though gold is worth more money. So if there is something necessary and you have too much or barley enough for it because without it you may be in a life threatening situation.
The main things traded were salt and gold and people traded salt for gold people also traded other minerals and foods for these things. It was a quality of life for some and for others you needed to have them like food but the minerals are not necessary for life. On the other hand you can trade the minerals for either other minerals that can get you food or just trade them for food.
Salt is dug out of the ground and looks like this. Salt is then bought by others.
Gold was dug in holes like this, the holes go down 40 to 50 feet down and people get buckets of mud and try to find gold in the buckets of mud.