Central African nations agree to merge two regional economic blocs
Central African ministers meeting in Cameroon Wednesday August 10 have agreed to merge the 11-member Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) with the six-member Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC) in a move to boost trade and growth.
The economy ministers said they want to foster regional integration, accelerate economic transformation and facilitate development by merging the two economic blocs. The deal specifically aims to eliminate rivalry that has helped to make central Africa the poorest region among Africa’s economic groups. Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Chad are members of CEMAC, while the ECCAS is made up of all CEMAC member states plus Angola, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Sao Tome and Principe.
“The sub-region will be more integrated, more competitive, efficient and strong enough to compete with the other regions. We have some countries that are stronger in central Africa that could push the rest,” said Charles Assamba Ongodo who heads the unit of a pilot committee created to merge both groupings.
ECCAS was created in 1983 to reduce inequality and poverty in central Africa. Central African leaders created CEMAC about a decade later, launching it in 1999 for the same purpose. Together, ECCAS and CEMAC constitute a market of more than 240 million inhabitants and is the least integrated region in Africa, according to the African Union.