April 15, 2019

The Board of the African Development Bank said on Monday it approved the adoption of a multinational operations strategy “crucial for the economic integration” of the Central Africa region.

The strategy, called Central Africa Regional Integration Strategy Paper for the period years 2019 – 2025, builds on the AfDB’s past experience in executing other regional development programs, and will help guide the Bank’s regional operations in seven member countries of the Economic Community of Central African States- Cameroon, Chad, Central African Republic,Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

AfDB said it will need $4.42 billion investments to implement the strategy, which will benefit 30 regional operations over a seven-year period. An estimated 88 percent of that funding will go toward strengthening regional infrastructure, the AfDB said.

The plan also include infrastructure and institutional capacity-building, which will support the resilience of the countries in the region, strengthen resilience to food insecurity, enable the socio-economic reintegration of vulnerable groups, and conserve ecosystems in the Congo Basin.

In addition, the strategy includes AfDB’s plans to accelerate intra-regional trade, inclusive economic growth and structural transformation of the Central African region– a combined population of around 130 million people.

AfDB said the integration and economic development goals of the Central Africa regional strategy will be achieved from the basis of two pillars: the first strengthens regional infrastructure, focusing on electricity networks, transport and ICT. The second supports reforms for intra-regional trade development and cross-border investments and builds the institutional capacity of regional organizations, especially ECCAS and the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, also known as CEMAC.

The Central African zone represents the nexus of Africa, sharing borders with every other region of the continent. Civil harmony and the economic, social and political progress of the region are underpinned by the broader promise of continental cooperation and economic integration.

The total Gross Domestic Products growth rate for Central Africa in 2018 doubled to 2.2 percent from 1.1 percent in 2017, but remained below the sub-Saharan average of 3.5 percent. The region’s growth was driven primarily by global commodity prices, principally oil. Other countries within the ECCAS region continued to grapple with the vicious circle of instability and fragility, weak human and institutional capacity, and infrastructure deficits in the transport, energy and ICT sectors.

Director-General of the AfDB’s Central Africa Regional Development and Business Delivery Office Ousmane Dore said the implementation of the Central Africa integration strategy will help encourage regional and national authorities to ensure that cross-border programs and initiatives are embedded into public resource planning and administration. “Central Africa has significant oil resources, deposits of precious metals and minerals, huge transboundary water resources, and the continent’s greatest hydropower potential.”

The Central Africa RISP is in accordance with the AfDB’s new Regional Integration Strategy Framework, which was approved in March 2018, and the Ten-Year Strategy of the AfDB’s agenda for 2013-2022. It also aligns with the regional priorities from ECCAS and CEMAC and the Bank’s High 5 priorities.

“The African Development Bank’s ongoing support for Central Africa is crucial for the successful economic integration of the countries in the region. The new Regional Integration Strategy Paper continues this tradition of supportive interventions in critical economic sectors. Ultimately, it will be a huge boost to intra-regional trade and a much needed structural transformation of the policy and business environment,” said Moono Mupotola, the Bank’s Director of Regional Development and Regional Integration.