News / Africa

Central African Integration Limited by Domestic Differences

New CEMAC parliament inaugurated but lack of fiscal coordination, uneven business and visa regulations hamper cooperation.

Central African leaders have high hopes for a new regional parliament.  But the lack of fiscal coordination and differences in immigration law continue to make the group less competitive than the neighboring Economic Community of West African States.

Heads of state from the Central Africa Economic and Monetary Community inaugurated their new parliament with a gala opening last week.  The $30 million, Chinese-built assembly in Equatorial Guinea gives a new home and new mandate to a body that began as an inter-parliamentary commission 10 years ago.

Cameroon, Gabon, the Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, the Central African Republic and Chad each have five delegates to oversee the functioning and budget of a CEMAC Commission charged with promoting democracy and accelerating regional integration.

Cameroon's Antoine Ntsimi, president of the commission, says the most urgent issues facing CEMAC and its new parliament are fighting poverty, easing the movement of people, and better harnessing the region's oil wealth.

Equatorial Guinea, the Congo Republic, Chad, and Gabon are among Africa's top ten oil producers, yet CEMAC's 30 million people remain among the world's poorest.

Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo says the new regional parliament in Malabo will better serve the region's people.

President Obiang says the new parliament will help the CEMAC commission consolidate peace, safeguard collective security, promote the development of democracy and good governance and improve national reconciliation.

He says greater economic and political integration will transform the region, increasing private-sector investment and raising the living standards of everyone.

But there is still no fiscal coordination between CEMAC members on budgeting or planning.  And foreign investors say business regulations in the region vary widely.

"When there is economic and regional integration, there is usually some convergence criteria that they put in place, which may be related to the rate of inflation or related to fiscal deficits and so on," says economics professor Baye Mengjo, who teaches at the University of Yaounde. "Some countries may not really want to be committed in trying to implement those things because they involve some adjustment policies that have to take place in their various countries."

Unlike citizens of the neighboring, 15-member Economic Community of West African States, CEMAC citizens are not permitted to travel freely within the alliance.

"If you are talking about integration, talking about economic cooperation, if a citizen from country A has to seek for a visa - and even at times unsuccessfully - to get into the other country, then what are we talking about?" Mengjo asked.

The West African economic bloc has a regional stock exchange in Abidjan.  In Central Africa, there is no link between the stock markets in Libreville and Douala.

Mengjo says CEMAC is also weakened by a multitude of bilateral agreements with European and Asian governments that sometimes pit one member's economy against another because they all more or less produce the same things.

"All those factors are themselves working against regional integration, especially in the CEMAC region where the individual countries and their authorities are not very committed [to] developing a market among themselves.  The trade between the CEMAC member countries is very very small," Mengjo said.

The International Monetary Fund estimates CEMAC's intra-regional trade accounts for less than two percent of members' exports.  It remains a regional body held together largely by  a common currency backed by France and pegged to the Euro.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Urges Restraint in Hong Kong Protests

Protesters angered by Beijing's decision to only approve candidates that it sanctions for Hong Kong's leadership elections in 2017 More

Archive of Forgotten UCLA Speeches Offers Snapshot of History

Recordings of prominent voices in social change, politics, science and literature from 1960s, early 1970s now available on YouTube More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenyai
X
Gabe Joselow
September 29, 2014 6:20 PM
Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Video

Video Reconstruction? What Reconstruction? Life After War in Gaza

It’s been a month since Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire to end 52 days of an air and tank war that left 60,000 homes in Gaza damaged or destroyed and 110,000 homeless. Sharon Behn reports that lack of reconstruction is leading to despair.
Video

Video US, Saudi Arabia and UAE Hit Islamic State's Oil Revenue

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bombed oil facilities operated by Islamic State militants in Syria. It was a truly collaborative effort, with the two Arab countries dropping the majority of the bombs. The 12 refineries targeted were estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day for the terrorist group. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the story.
Video

Video Russia's Food Sanctions Raise Price Worries, Hopes for Domestic Production

Russia retaliated against Western sanctions imposed for its actions in Ukraine by halting food imports from the West. The temporary import ban on food from Australia, the European Union, Norway and North America has Russian consumers concerned that they could face a sharp increase in food prices. But in an ironic twist, the restrictions aimed at the Kremlin have made Russia's domestic food producers hopeful this can boost their business. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid