Yaounde, 11 November 2018 (ECA) – On 12 December 2018, the Subregional Office for Central Africa (SRO-CA) of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) is convening a colloquium to mark the 60th anniversary of the Commission at the Yaounde Hilton, in Cameroon.
To be presided over by the country’s Minister of Economy, Planning and Regional Development – Mr Alamine Ousmane Mey, the theme chosen for the event, is: “Stakes, Opportunities and Challenges of Economic Diversification in Central Africa.” It will be attended by Government officials, high-level representatives of ECCAS and CEMAC, ambassadors, private sector leaders, civil society actors, academics, media personalities and other partners, who will use the opportunity to review ECA’s milestones to date and examine the challenges ahead, most notably how to accelerate economic diversification as the most plausible pathway to emergence and sustainable development.
“ECA has been a great partner shaping the development policies of many African countries,” said Mr Ousmane Mey to an ECA team just days before the celebration.
“Cameroon is one of the major beneficiaries of the support provided by the Commission, especially in terms of macroeconomic policy analysis that has shaped our thinking in the area of structural transformation but more importantly in providing strategic advice for economic diversification and industrialisation, as well as unveiling new opportunities that we must take advantage of as we work towards our emergence,” the Minister said.
Grounds covered by ECA in Central Africa
Located in Yaoundé, ECA’s Subregional Office for Central Africa was established in 1962, just four years after the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) had established ECA with headquarters in Addis Ababa, to accompany member States with vital and timely support to meet prevailing challenges on their pathways towards sustainable development.
Building on its based analysis to support policy formulation/implementation through reports such as “The Economies of Central Africa,” “Tracking the Regional Integration in Central Africa,” and moving into single Country Profiles, the Office has now introduced a second generation reviews of the state of structural transformation at country level baptised the STEPS Profile, to incite action towards creating productive and shock-resilient economies.
The Yaounde-based Office continues to play a coordinating, secretarial, agenda setting and consensus-building function to address subregional integration and development issues. This has been evident with its pivotal role within the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts (ICE) for Central Africa convened annually to discuss key issues and challenges pertaining to the economic and social development of the subregion, with a view to making appropriate recommendations to addressing them and map pathways of collaboration to do so. Through the 2017 ICE, the office adopted the Doula Consensus on “Economic diversification through resource-driven and trade-induced industrialization”, a manifest to advance the “Made in Central Africa” agenda and break Central Africa’s vicious cycle of economic booms and busts.
The Bureau equally serves as the secretariat of subregional coordination mechanism (SRCM) of United Nations system support to the African Union and its New Partnership for Africa’s Development programme in Central Africa. During the 9th session of the mechanism held recently in Brazzaville, all involved parties adopted the third Common Indicative Program (CIP-III) aimed at boosting diversification and economic resilience in Central Africa and doubling intra-regional trade to the tune of 5% through the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) over the next five years.
Support to the formulation of Central Africa’s Consensual Transport Master Plan (PDCT-AC, in French), counts among one of the most salient contributions of SRO-CA to infrastructure development on in Central Africa, the list linked sub-region on the continent. PDCT-AC enhanced investment confidence in the sector and guided efforts at national and regional levels to make the sub-region more accessible. As a result, 36 new roadways were built covering 6,008 km. Other outputs include G the development of the Central Africa Civil Aviation Code and port infrastructure in Cameroon and Sao Tome and Principe.
As a main initiator of the CEMAC-ECCAS rapprochement and in its capacity as a member of the Steering Committee for the Rationalisation of Regional Economic Communities in Central Africa (COPIL), ECA has been providing regular support to the ongoing process of harmonisation and rationalisation of programmes, policies and instruments of ECCAS and CEMAC, ultimately leading to a merger of the two organizations into one.
In addition, to support the implementation of the Action Plan of the African Union Boosting intra-African Trade (BIAT), SRO-CA has trained more than 200 experts from national administrations and from the private sector of Gabon, Cameroon, Chad, Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo on relevant trade and market access instruments to take full advantage of the harmonized ECCAS-CEMAC preferential tariff trade regime.
Becoming a centre of excellence on economic diversification issues
To operationalise the Doula Consensus, SRO-CA’s ambition is to become a centre of excellence on economic diversification, a step which has already been initiated especially through its work in Cameroon, Chad and Equatorial Guinea. Its growing body of knowledge and practice on vertical and horizontal economic diversification as well as its advocacy on the need for well- sequenced counter-cyclical measures to boost productive capabilities, enhance firm-level competitiveness and accelerate the pace of industrialization and intra-regional trade in Central Africa are making SRO-CO a first and trusted port of call on those subject matters, thus contributing to greater name recognition and policy influence of the Office in Central Africa. “This is a cause for celebration,” Antonio Pedro, Director of SRO-CA said. “But it also comes with more responsibility. We need to boost our internal capabilities, raise our client orientation and forge smart partnerships with world class experts and thinks so that we can offer unique, context specific solutions to our member States”, he added.
“We also need to support our member States to understand what is their national value proposition and to offer them relevant macro-economic and modelling tools so that they sit on the table with greater authority in crucial discussion, including during Article IV negotiations”, Pedro noted.
“It is now a question of striking a healthy balance between the immediate pressure of restoring macroeconomic stability through structural adjustment programmes and the imperative of continuing to pursue counter-cyclical investments to boost productive capacities in the region. Short-termism alone will not deliver the Made in Central Africa agenda, he concluded.
The Sub-Regional Office for Central Africa
UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)
P.O. Box 14935 Yaounde, Cameroon
Tel: (+237) 222504347 / (+237) 222504315 / (+237) 222504330
Abel Akara Ticha – Communication Officer
Tel: (+237) 222504348