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

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games, Despite Woes

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    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.

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora