Cameroon Tribune (Yaoundé)

25 November 2012

Cameroon: Yesterday's Successes, Tomorrow's Challenges for BEAC

Malabo — BEAC's 40th anniversary celebrations in Malabo evaluated the journey covered and meditated on a stronger and more stable CFA.

Forty years of continuous emission of bank notes, coins, and regulation of banking activities in the Central African sub region. Authorities of some banking institutions, notably central banks in Africa and France joined those of the Bank of Central African States (BEAC) from November 21 to 23 in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea to celebrate the successes recorded within the bank's 40 years of existence and to ponder on new exigencies.

All requirements to make a celebration eventful was put in place, ranging from cultural evenings, gala nights to sporting activities but much and above all, the symposium on the theme: "Monetary Integration in Africa: Experiences and Perspectives." The think tank made up of former and present central bank governors, specialists in financial and monetary issues and renowned university professors who participated in the symposium, united their ideas into one big chunk tailored at improving the performance of BEAC in the face of modern exigencies.

While agreeing that the bank has played an important role as leading instrument of integration for countries of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC), they equally expressed fears that its stability could be threatened by looming impact of crisis in the West, notably Europe whose currency the CFA is incidentally tagged to. President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, Equatorial Guinean leader who presided at the symposium stated inter alia that Africa's emergence was privileged by the fact that the continent is coming after western industrialisation. This, he said, means that it must tap from the experiences of the former rather than continue to operate as simple receivers. He debunked sceptics who opposed the entry of Equatorial Guinea into CEMAC stating that the country with its specificities was isolated. According to the Equato-Guinean President, belonging to CEMAC has opened up channels of training and technical support.

Controversy

Even though participants agreed on a number of issues, there was outright controversy over the idea of CEMAC countries stocking "operational funds" in the Bank of France. Whereas the Governor of that institution, Christian Noyer and other Governors described the operation as a simple mechanism which serves as guarantee to the countries concerned, some panellists told reporters it was not normal for countries to stock over 50 per cent of their financial resources elsewhere and continue to bask in poverty. This particular issue featured very much in the speech delivered at the opening of the symposium by President Ali Bongo of Gabon, present Chairman of CEMAC.

That notwithstanding, the Gabonese Head of State was particularly concerned with the fate of the CFA and the economy of the sub region. "Liberalisation and globalisation are posing new threats to our developing economies", he said. Methodical action for prevention, he said, is necessary and there is need to accelerate control and regulation system put in place by ensuring the activity is given the right human and material resources. In order to better face the challenges of emergence, since all countries of the sub region have set as target 20 years to become emerging nations, President Ali Bongo encouraged the putting in place of a fund for emerging economies to accompany the integration projects for the sub region.

As activities of the 40th anniversary of the bank wrapped up, participants left Malabo with one thing in mind; that the Bank of Central African States needs to become even more efficient in its role of accompanying a sub region in quest of constant growth. Within this framework it must play its role as a bank of integration and monetary and financial stability; objectives that the bank's Governor, Lucas Abaga Nchama and his team have set out to achieve.

  • Financial dignitaries at the Malabo symposium ready to adapt BEAC to new exigencies.
  • Exhibition of CFA bank notes from creation till date.

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