News / Africa

Central African Integration Better on Paper Than Practice

— It has been more than 20 years since heads of state created the six-nation Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, CEMAC, to foster regional integration among members with a common currency.  Legally, tariffs have been eliminated, but in practice there has been no progress on realizing a free trade bloc.  The movement of goods and people on the border where Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon all converge is as controlled as ever.

The town of Kiossi in Cameroon is on the main access road to Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. Residents along the border say they are frustrated by not being able to travel and trade freely - despite a two-decades-old political agreement to implement a Central African free trade zone.
 
"The so-called regional integration in Central Africa to me is just existing on paper because I can't drive freely to Gabon, Central Africa or Equatorial Guinea," complains business man Ngah Christian, 33.  "We can not be talking about regional integration when we have Cameroonians who are being expelled from Equatorial Guinea or are attacked."
 
Kiossi journalist Freedy Becke, 29, agrees the region has been let down.
 
"It is actually a failure .... there are frequent police harassment for example of Cameroonians who live in Equatorial Guinea, in Gabon, frequent expulsions, expatriation.  And then the passport, we think we should have a unique passport for the whole of the region.  I do not think that exists though I have been hearing that it exists, " Becke says.
 
Lack of enforcement

Heads of state from CEMAC did in fact approve a common passport to facilitate easier travel and trade.  But It has not been uniformly enforced at the local level and many immigration officials still demand visas before allowing cross-border access.

Close to 50 million people live in six countries that make up CEMAC: Gabon, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Republic of the Congo and Equatorial Guinea.
 
A history of conflict and a lack of development are major reasons why there has been little to no progress in implementing a free trade area. 

Carlos Bongfirm, the director of macro-economic policies and trade at CEMAC, says there is an absence of roads linking the states which reduces exchanges between
people.  Further, he notes, politcal nationalism, a history of coups and multple conflicts since the 1990s have preoccupied politicians more than economic integration.
 
Bureaucracy

Another reason for lack of progress on integration is bureaucratic duplication between CEMAC and another nearly identical body called the Economic Community of Central African States, ECCAS.
 
Joseph Barrichacho of the United Nations Economic Commission for Central Africa, says this needs to change given greater integration is a goal on the African continent.
 
"The region is not advancing too well as the other sub-regions of the continent," Barrichacho explains. "They have to put in practice what the heads of state have decided.  The objective of the African Union is to move to one economic union for the continent around 2028."

The director of cooperation and integration at CEMAC, Chantale Elombat, says there is political will to integrate, and she is hopeful that the countries will now follow through.
 
She says four countries: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad and Congo Brazzaville - no longer require visas for travel between their countries.  That is a good step, she says, and a sign that other integration measures will follow.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: talib
March 30, 2013 4:44 AM
The best chance for CEMAC to prosper as facing globalization challenge is to further expand to its eastern region in order to integrate its land-locked member states such as Chad, CAR and DRC to seaports thru Sudan.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid