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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More