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CEMAC invites ECA to engage on strategic priorities to concretize industrialization and economic diversification in the subregion

24 February, 2024
CEMAC invites ECA to engage on strategic priorities to concretize industrialization and economic diversification in the subregion

Yaounde, February 24, 2024 (CEA) - "We would like this audience to be extended to a working session in Malabo, to be attended by the President of the Commission, Commissioners and technical collaborators, so that we can identify key areas of collaboration that will enable us to bring into practice the import-substitution strategy adopted by CEMAC Heads of States in March 2023", said Dr Charles Assamba Ongodo, Vice-President of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC) Commission, at the end of the audience with Jean Luc Mastaki.

On Saturday February 24, Jean Luc Mastaki, ECA Director for Central Africa, met his host for the first time at the CEMAC stand at the Promote international business and SME trade fair, to discuss the priorities of the newly appointed officials of the Commission.

According to the Vice-President of the CEMAC Commission, it will be a question of rapidly implementing the Master Plan for Industrialization and Economic Diversification adopted by the CEMAC ministers in 2022, for which ECA was the technical and financial partner. "The courageous measure taken by CEMAC to outlaw the export of logs must be accompanied by an infrastructure to manufacture this raw material. To achieve this, we need skills. We are talking about wood in the same way as we are talking about other products, notably agri-foodstuffs" explained Dr Charles Assamba Ongodo.

Based on statistics from International Trade Statistics, CEMAC countries spent over 2,780 billion CFA francs on imports of meat, fish, rice and hydrocarbons in 2018. This amount was increased by the multiform impact of COVID19 and the Russia-Ukraine war. With this in mind, the CEMAC Heads of State adopted an import-substitution strategy for local products, designed to reduce the drain on foreign currency.

"Speaking of import-substitution, we are supporting the Pref Cemac in implementing structural reforms, in particular the establishment of Special Economic Zones for wood processing. For us at the ECA, industrialization must focus on the development of value chains, and we base this on the study of priority value chains identified within the CEMAC PDIDE" reacted Jean Luc Mastaki to the Vice-President's remarks.

In the sub-region, intra-regional trade remains low. Before the outbreak of the COVID19 pandemic, it was estimated at 2.8% within CEMAC. With the advent of the AfCFTA, Central Africa needs to accelerate its productive sector to offer industrial products in quantity and quality to take advantage of this vast opportunity. ECA is already taking action to strengthen the subregion's capacities, and Jean Luc Mastaki outlined a number of actions that have already been carried out, but which need to be intensified: "ECA has provided the subregion with a subregional AfCFTA strategy. But we think we need to link industrial strategy to commercial strategy. With this in mind, we have helped Chad develop an export strategy for beef to Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. What's more, we are supporting the CEMAC on quality infrastructure and value chains for the import-substitution strategy (leather, wood, rice, meat, fish). Without quality infrastructure, products won't be able to circulate in Africa, despite the opening up of the market".

Since 2021, cross-border communications for CEMAC nationals have been cheaper. This is due to the abolition of roaming charges, which the CEA has supported with a study. It is also an incentive for the free movement of people. "It is with great interest that my colleagues and I will be going to Malabo to intensify and materialize our joint priority actions aimed at making industrialization and economic diversification a reality in our beautiful sub-region" indicated Jean Luc Mastaki.

Issued by:
Communications Section
Economic Commission for Africa
PO Box 3001
Addis Ababa
Tel: +251 11 551 5826