Central Africa

Central Africa Chad Cameroon Equatorial Guinea Gabon Congo Congo, Democratic Republic Central African Republic

Overview

Initially established as the Customs and Economic Union of Central Africa (UDEAC), the he Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC) was created in 1994 as a customs and monetary union under the leadership of the six member states (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon). Other structures exist with the CEMAC, namely the Central African Economic Union (UEAC), which is responsible for economic integration, and the Central African Monetary Union (UMAC), responsible for monetary and financial integration.

The main policy objectives of the CEMAC are:

  • To create a fully functional and effective customs union,
  • To develop the human and natural resources of member countries for the welfare of the people,
  • To ensure the convergence of performance of economic policies by means of the multilateral macroeconomic surveillance; and
  • To promote sectorial policies that help create a common market for goods, capital, and services, through greater harmonisation of policies and legal and regulatory frameworks of member states.

The Bank of Central African States (BEAC) was created by the convention establishing the UMAC and the Monetary Cooperation Agreement concluded between France and the six member states of CEMAC, which created the common currency, the Franc de la Coopération Financière en Afrique (CFA Franc) The main tasks of the BEAC are:

  • Define and implement the monetary policy of the Monetary Union;
  • Issue banknotes and coins that are used in the Monetary Union;
  • Conduct the foreign exchange policy of the CEMAC zone;
  • Manage the official foreign reserves of the Member States;
  • Ensure the efficient operation of the regional payment and settlement system;

The payment system of CEMAC countries is rudimentary and constitutes an obstacle to the development of the financial sector and the economies of the member countries. It also constitutes a constraint on regional integration and bank liquidity management. The current system is slow, unreliable, complicated and costly for participants.

Electronic banking, which constitutes a major means of broadening access to financial services, is still at an embryonic stage. Although a few banks have introduced cards, they are almost exclusively used for cash withdrawals at a limited number of ATMs and generally can only be used at the terminals of the issuing banks.

To address these problems, a regional payment system reform project was launched in 2003 aimed at enhancing the effectiveness and security of payment systems by establishing three systems to facilitate secure and rapid payment at reasonable cost. However, their deployment has been impeded by a lack of experience, implementation capacity and coordination at the various levels of BEAC in implementing an ambitious and complex project; and the lack of understanding of the changes that such systems will have for its internal operations as well as its relations with banks. Another factor is the lack of enthusiasm shown by some banks (those already having electronic products) for the current project to develop an inter-bank card system.

The Development Bank of Central African States (BDEAC) was created by the CEMAC countries to undertake long-term resource mobilization for the financing of major investment projects. To date, BDEAC has been replenishing its assets with subsidies (annual tranche of tax and customs revenues from the CEMAC development fund), loans from international partners and from issuing of bonds. The BDEAC has also obtained a revolving credit line from BEAC.

The CEMAC has a small and embryonic domestic capital markets. In 2003, the CEMAC countries undertook to create the Securities Exchange of Central Africa (BVMAC), a regional stock exchange in Libreville. At the same time, Cameroon established a national stock exchange, the Douala Stock Exchange (DSX), resulting in two stock markets in the region. In terms of market infrastructure, the two stock markets have virtually identical technical resources and procedures. Although the quote software is different (NSC V 9000 Euronext for BVMAC and 3 V Finance for DSX), the Central Depository systems are identical.

However, their coexistence has been problematic for the development of capital market activities. Legal disparities exist in view of the coexistence of two regulatory bodies in the region – the regional capital market authority - COSUMAF, and the Financial Market Commission in Cameroon, whose powers also cover the entire territory.  To address this issue, the CEMAC has initiated discussions that will lead to a harmonised legal and regulatory framework in the region.

Useful links to regional institutions

Summary table of the countries

CountryGDP (US$ million) 2012GDP growth (yoy)External Debt (US$ million)External Debt (as % of GDP)Domestic public debt (US$ million)Domestic public debt (as % of GDP)
Cameroon26,4044.944201.592,2598.55
Central African Republic2,0103.10100.5038819.31
Chad12,7307.182001.572,06616.23
Congo, Dem. Rep.18,1357.22--5,59530.85
Congo, Rep.14,3234.91--2,18715.27
Equatorial Guinea24,0705.52--1,6987.05
Gabon19,4105.62300.151,3506.96