Meeting in Bangui in 2010, the Heads of State of the sub-region adopted an economic development programme called PER (Programme Economique Régional) intended to transform the CEMAC zone into an emergent economy by 2025. While the Bangui Summit insisted that all CEMAC countries should appropriate the various projects planned by PER, they equally cited projects that would ensure a smooth economic take-off for the sub-region.
The PER programme has been structured in five sectors with 12 objectives, 29 programmes and 86 projects expected to be completed by 2025. Phase one of the programme that is to run from 2011-2015 is in its initial stages.
In Brazzaville, eight of the road projects earmarked within the PER programme are already under construction by the various CEMAC countries. The PER has energy development as one of the main requirements to enable the sub-region guarantee economic take-off, ensure efficient, and lasting growth as well as fight poverty. The imminent construction of the Lom-Pangar Dam in the East Region of Cameroon is seen as a development catalyst for PER. Aspects such as agriculture, fishing and other infrastructural development intended in the PER are yet to take off. May be the creation of new structures to cater for such projects within the sub-region will help accelerate that aspect of the PER.
The dismissal of Felix Mamalepot in Chad in 2007 and the appointment of Phillebert Angembe did not improve the situation within the Bank of Central African States, BEAC. Instead, there were rumours of wrong placement of money that almost compounded the economic situation in the zone with the 2008 world economic crisis. Given the poor financial management, Equatorial Guinea that had longed to take over control of BEAC got its way as Lucas Abaga Nchama took over from Angembe. Following the Brazzaville Summit of last week therefore, the Monetary Committee Policy met on Friday July 27, 2012 and announced that the growth prospects in CEMAC were positive. A 5.7 per cent growth has been projected for 2012. The accounts of the sub-region are said to have improved thanks to petroleum income.
However, the problem of financing activities within the sub-region has remained difficult to settle. The call for a reinforcement of the community tax to finance CEMAC projects has not evolved much. Thus, the Brazzaville Summit came back on the issue of a community tax (Taxe Communautaire d'Intégration (TCI), by adopting a complementary decision modifying previous ones taken from December 03-08, 2001 which further modifies another one taken from December 05-14, 2000 installing an internal mechanism for the financing of integration projects within the CEMAC zone.
With the new plan for the modernization of BEAC by 2013, the argument by BEAC officials in Brazzaville has been that an eight-point reform process put in place after the Bangui gathering is yielding fruit.
Sub-regional Stock Markets
Even before the Heads of State Summit in Bangui, there was contention over the existence of stock markets in Cameroon and Libreville. In effect, while Gabon felt that a major economic structure like the stock exchange for CEMAC must be lodged in Libreville, Cameroon argued that Douala as the economic hub of the sub-region ought to host the stock market of the sub-region. The ensuing tussle led to the creation of two stock markets: one in Libreville and another in Douala.
The Summit in Bangui had to call in the African Development Bank, ADB to suggest solutions to the stalemate. As a result, it has been disclosed that there are possibilities for the two stock markets to be merge and it may only take the next Summit of Heads of State to know how well the initiative went.
Two New Institutions
The reforms adopted by CEMAC member countries in Bangui in 2010 provided seven major institutions within the sub-region and several other structures to ensure its smooth functioning. But the creation of Air CEMAC as well as the provision of capital, a Board of Governor, and the identification of Air France as strategic partner to operate the airline, obliged the Heads of State to agree on more specialized institutions in the sub-region.
Thus, Brazzaville 2012 saw the creation of an Agency for Air Traffic Surveillance in Central Africa, an inter-state committee known in French as Agence de supervision de la sécurité aérienne en Afrique Centrale (ASSA-AC); and the Inter-State committee for Pesticides in Central Africa also known in French as Comité Inter-Etats des Pesticides d'Afrique Centrale (CPAC). While Cameroon will provide a candidate to manage the air transport supervision agency, the Republic of Equatorial Guinea will also have the task of managing the pesticide structure.
Cross-border Insecurity As Common Concern
President François Bozizé of the Central African Republic (CAR) might have organised a number of elections to consolidate his hold on power in the CAR but the situation in the country remains precarious. In the past, CEMAC member countries created a joint security force to ensure stability. Yet, fighting has continued to keep the country fragile, giving room for the transportation of criminals and dangerous weapons to neighbouring countries.
The 2010 Bangui Summit, the main security threat was in Chad where rebels had attempted ousting President Idriss Deby Itno. However, Deby succeeded in keeping the situation under control and CEMAC leaders only ended at the level of congratulating him for restoring order. Meantime, the situation in CAR has continued to deteriorate thereby obliging CEMAC leaders to express fears that other countries could suffer from the consequences. As a result, they decided on a special support package of FCFA one billion to all the countries of the sub-region in fighting insecurity that could be caused by the situation in CAR.