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

US Gives Malaysia Questionable Upgrade in Human Trafficking Ranks

Malaysia’s upgrade seen as removing barrier to country’s participation in the US-led 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership More

Turkey, US Try to Establish Buffer Despite Differences

Coalition airstrikes in proposed zone would aim to drive out Islamic extremists, allowing targeted area to come under sway of anti-Assad rebels More

Video US: Millions Exploited by Vast Fortunes of Human Trafficking

State Department's annual report calls exploitation 'modern slavery,' brutalizing girls, women into prostitution and forcing men, women and children into low-wage jobs across the globe 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.
US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Wini
X
July 28, 2015 12:21 AM
The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Obama Encourages Kenya to Fix Cultures of Corruption, Discrimination

President Barack Obama bid farewell to Kenya Sunday with a major speech at as stadium outside the capital Nairobi where he called on Kenyans to change the cultures of corruption and discrimination that can hold society back. VOA East Africa Correspondent Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video California Towns Welcome Special Olympics Athletes

Cities and towns in Southern California are greeting thousands of athletes who are arriving for Special Olympics, a competition for people with intellectual disabilities. The games will run from July 25th through August 2nd. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, where athletes from Namibia, Singapore and Tanzania got a rousing welcome from local residents.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.
Video

Video Hoverbike Flying Toward Reality

Another long-standing dream of many technological inventors is quickly approaching reality: U.S.- and British-based firms are cooperating in the development of an individual flying platform they call a hoverbike. They say it may revolutionize the concept of flying, including in the U.S. military. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video As Japan Expands Defense Role, Protests Follow

The Japanese government is moving forward with a controversial security bill that would authorize the military to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. Leaders say it is critical to defend against rising threats from China and North Korea. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Japan on the big changes ahead, and the opposition they are drawing.
Video

Video Replacing Poppies with Coffee in Myanmar

The remote mountains of Myanmar’s Shan state are home to the second-largest opium-producing region in the world. After a drop during the 2000s, production surged in the past eight years to feed an increasing demand for heroin in China. But farmers are now making less on the crop, and the U.N. is hoping many will make the switch to growing coffee. Daniel de Carteret reports for VOA from Taunggyi.

VOA Blogs