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The World Bank’s board of executive directors have discussed
a Regional Integration Assistance Strategy aimed at improving trade
links and enhancing the economic integration of six Central African
The strategy suggests IDA funding for various technical assistance
and infrastructure investments over the next five years.
The strategy will support the Central African Economic and Monetary
Community (CEMAC) to improve trade links between its member
countries—Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, the
Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon. It will do so by
planning to build new roads and improve existing ones, modernize
and integrate the financial sector, and by speeding up transaction
time at the ports and customs. This will facilitate the movement of
goods, people, and capital and reduce transaction costs.
Central Africa is well endowed with natural resources, including
petroleum, gold, tin, bauxite, uranium and iron ore, yet includes
some of the poorest people in the world. While poverty reduction is
essentially a national concern, regional integration can
contribute to its achievement through the establishment of
conditions to promote accelerated growth, by ensuring more stable
macroeconomic conditions, greater openness to the rest of the world
and a more favorable business climate.
Trade facilitation planned under the strategy will complement
ongoing efforts to reform customs practices and transit processes,
the latter currently holding up goods in the port of Douala,
Cameroon for weeks—a delay that it is hoped can be brought
down to days.
“It is increasingly recognized that economic integration can
be a beneficial for small landlocked economies,” said