ECA praised for “excellent initiative” in Central Africa

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Yaoundé, 12 September 2017 (ECA) - Cameroon’s minister of trade, Luc Magloire Mbarga Atangana, has described the upcoming meeting of the Inter-Governmental Committee of Experts for Central Africa (ICE2017) as “an excellent initiative,” given its focus on promoting industrialization, regional integration and the consumption of products made in Central Africa.

Mr. Atangana was speaking during a meeting with Antonio Pedro, Director of ECA’s Sub regional Office for Central Africa, on 12 September 2017 in Yaoundé, Cameroon.

Mr. Pedro told the minister that the choice of the  theme for the 2017  ICE, “Made in Central Africa: from a vicious to a virtuous circle,” was ECA's way of responding to the decision taken on 23 December 2016 during the Extraordinary Summit of Central African heads of state of government to diversify their economies as a means to reducing the region’s vulnerability to external shocks and dependence on the export of raw materials.

Both personalities agreed that Central Africa's rich endowments in natural resources and the market opportunities that the operationalization of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFA) would create provide the necessary fundamentals for sustainable structural transformation and job creation in Central Africa. 

They discussed progress made by other RECs in promoting intra-Africa trade, noting that “Central Africa is lagging behind other sub-regions, but that its success stories should be emulated and replicated for scale and transformational change.”  They also concurred that “by maximizing trade in intermediate goods and fostering backward and forward integration, countries in Central Africa will benefit more from trading with each other than with the external world.”

The Minister of Trade stated that with a population of more than 150 million, Central Africa provides a “big enough market” for  all its member states, “especially if we effectively promote free movement of goods and services.”

He cited a “positive example” of Cameroon, which imports palm oil from Gabon for its refineries that produce vegetable oils and soap. “We need to do more of this,” said Mr. Atangana who then deplored the fact that Cameroon’s textile industry does not benefit much from the country’s cotton production since, “only about 4% is transformed locally. The rest is exported.” 

Mr. Atangana said ECA’s continental knowledge and expertise in structural transformation and trade issues will be of great benefit to Cameroon and the entire Central African sub region.

Against this backdrop, Mr. Pedro congratulated Cameroon for its ongoing efforts to promote locally produced goods in supermarkets and other strategic areas around the country. “This is in line with our own vision at ECA,” he added.

The ECA director reassured the minister of ECA’s support, stating, “ECA is available to provide evidence-based analyses on the potential of free trade areas within Africa and also support all other efforts to boost economic diversification and the productive capabilities of countries in the sub region. We look forward to collaborating with you and your ministry in advancing this agenda.”

Addressing the media after his meeting with the minister, Mr. Pedro said:

“I was pleased with my meeting with the minister.  We share the same vision and agreed that it is essential to redirect our efforts towards the  promotion of economic diversification in Central Africa through resource-driven and trade-induced industrialization. So we’ve found a very good partner in Cameroon.” 

ICE2017 will take place in Douala from 26 - 29 September 2017. It provides opportunity for high-level policy makers, captains of industry and other stakeholder  to reflect on how to create resilient and globally competitive economies in Central Africa through the promotion of local production and consumption