News / Africa

Central African Integration Better on Paper Than Practice

TEXT SIZE - +
— 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

Abuja Blast Impacts Lives, Livelihoods

Officials say they are looking at ways to help bombing victims and boosting security More

Cambodia Technology Adviser Criticizes Cybercrime Draft Law

Phu Leewood says current criminal code can be used to prosecute offenders and that there is no need for a separate law More

Photogallery A Year Later, Boston Remembers Deadly Marathon Bombings

City pauses to honor victims and salute emergency workers who came to their assistance in frantic moments after blasts 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid