Yaounde/Addis Ababa, 7 April 2021 (ECA) – Getting Central African states switch from the design to implementation of economic diversification strategies, is the major result area on which the work done by the Subregional Office for Central Africa (SRO-CA) of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in the sub-region will be measured against in 2021.
To this effect, SRO-CA completed a geographic information system (GIS) spatial planning and investment decision tool during the first three months of 2021. In addition, a trade decision support model (DSM) for Cameroon (to be expanded to the who subregion) was equally completed and the process to design and use a Made in Central Africa marketing label launched.
This information was revealed by the Director of ECA/SRO-CA Antonio Pedro and explicated by the Head of the Subregional Initiative section of the Office Adama Coulibaly during day-2 of ECA’s Accountability and Programme Performance Review (APPR) meeting of the first quarter of 2021, Tuesday.
Following several months of work by the Office to complete the GIS-enabled assessment of economic opportunities along transport corridors in Central Africa, the Development Bank of Central Africa (BDEAC) says it will use it to revise the subregion’s transport corridors’ masterplan (known as PDCT-AC), developed in 2004, also with the technical backing of ECA.
“The GIS tool will help transform the transport corridors in the sub-region into development corridors by piecing together geo-referenced socio-economic and biophysical data along these trajectories thus assisting governments to identify areas with the greatest development potential and agglomeration of factors in support to development planning, prioritization of investments, selection of industrial plans and special economic zones, as well as arbitration between competing land use options,” Pedro had earlier explained.
Meanwhile, the Government of Cameroon is taking leads from the GIS report to turn the Kribi-Edea-Douala connected stretch of agglomerations into a growth triangle, as advised by ECA.
Moreover, to support the implementation of Cameroon’s national AFCFTA strategy formulated in 2020 with the support of SRO-CA, the Office has also helped the country develop a practical trade decision support model (DSM) tool to identify which products have the greatest export potential and which markets to target first.. The tool has shown that Nigeria, for instance, though not part of ECCAS, is a closer trade distance (in terms of trade facilitation) than the Democratic Republic of the Congo. As advised by the UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of ECA, Vera Songwe, building the necessary bridges to capitalise on both important markets should be the next big step, as DRC demographics and localisation at the centre of the continent, make her a market not to be missed.
Meanwhile ECA/SRO-CA reported that there’s been a full buy-in by the by subregional senior officials of trade ministries, industry associations, ECCAS and CEMAC Commissions of the “Made in Central Africa label,” one of its current flagship projects, to leverage participation in the AfCFTA. The label is supporting Central Africa’s diversification and AfCFTA strategies and would prove handy for all but especially the 379 products termed sensitive (7% of tradable products) and 172 products considered excluded (3% of tradable products) for which the subregion will not compete with any other in the AfCFTA regime.
As Adama Coulibaly put it during Tuesday’s session, “our work in Quarter 1 of 2021 to help the Central African subregion expand the contribution of the manufacturing and high-value service sectors to GDP and increase the share of tradeable and manufactured goods in total exports while deepening value chains, is not about sprinting.”
“It is about starting right and taking our economies through a successful trajectory towards economic diversification,” he concluded.
Abel Akara Ticha - Communication Officer
United Nations Economic Commission for Africa
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