Despite political will and its geostrategic position in Central Africa, the country does not benefit sufficiently from regional integration. Exports to the region have risen by only 5.2 per cent over the 2003-2010 period, compared to 13.5 per cent for the other member States of CEMAC (African Development Bank, 2015). The country’s political fragility, the lack of transport infrastructure (and especially its poor quality), and the deterioration of the business climate go a long way to explaining this poor performance and are obstacles to structural transformation of the economy.

Headline Findings

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  • Fifth in ECCAS (score: 0.51). Twenty-first in CEN-SAD (score: 0.30).
  • Best performer in ECCAS is Cameroon (score: 0.66).

CEN-SAD

How Central African Republic Ranks Within CEN-SAD

Country is a high performer – score is higher than average of countries
Country is an average performer – score is within the average of countries
Country is a low performer –score is below the average of countries
Average score across REC member countries

Compare Central African Republic's Dimension Scores

Trade Integration
Regional Infrastructure
Productive Integration
Free Movement of People
Financial & Macroeconomic Integration

ECCAS

How Central African Republic Ranks Within ECCAS

Country is a high performer – score is higher than average of countries
Country is an average performer – score is within the average of countries
Country is a low performer –score is below the average of countries
Average score across REC member countries

Compare Central African Republic's Dimension Scores

Trade Integration
Regional Infrastructure
Productive Integration
Free Movement of People
Financial & Macroeconomic Integration

Analysis of Central African Republic's Performance Across Dimensions

Free movement of persons: For this aspect of the Africa regional integration index, countries are scored against two indicators: the proportion of protocols ratified on the free movement of persons in the regional economic communities and the number of African countries whose nationals are permitted to enter visa-free or with a visa obtained on arrival. The Republic has very poor results in this domain. According to the sources consulted, it allows the nationals of only four African countries to enter visa-free or with an entry visa. Nonetheless, because of the poor performance of the other member countries of ECCAS, the Central African Republic achieves a good ranking in this dimension in terms of its integration into this regional economic community. The Central African Republic has ratified the relevant instrument of ECCAS on the free movement of persons (ECA, the African Development Bank and the African Union Commission, 2012; ECA, the African Union Commission and the African Development Bank, 2013; and ECA and the African Union Commission, 2015).

Trade integration: The index comprises three indicators of trade integration: the average tariffs imposed on imports within the regional economic communities and imports and exports of goods within the regional economic communities. Trade in services is not included, for lack of data on intra-African trade in services. An examination of these indicators reveals that the Central African Republic imposes high customs duties on imports from CEN-SAD, with an average tariff imposed of 17 per cent according to the most recent data available. It imposes a zero tariff, however, on imports from ECCAS (United Nations, Statistics Division, 2015; International Trade Commission, 2015).

The trade of the Central African Republic with the regional economic communities of which it is a member is also low. The country’s imports from CEN-SAD account for only 0.2 per cent of its GDP while its imports from ECCAS account for only 0.8 per cent of its GDP. Similarly, the Republic’s exports (excluding re-exports) to the rest of CEN-SAD correspond to about 0.2 per cent of its GDP, while its exports to ECCAS also account for about 0.2 per cent of its GDP.

Productive integration: In common with most African countries, the trade of the Central African Republic is not very complementary to that of the members of the same regional economic community, which indicates that its production is not very tailored to integration into regional value chains (1). The Central African Republic is ranked among the last fifteen African countries in terms of the trade complementarity index of UNCTAD. The index in question also measures productive integration by examining intraregional trade in intermediate goods. Given its low level of trade integration, the Central African Republic is poorly integrated with the rest of the regional economic communities of which it is a member. The country imported the equivalent of only 0.2 per cent of its GDP in intermediate goods and equipment from CEN-SAD in 2013, ranking second last of the members for which data were available and far behind Côte d’Ivoire, for which the equivalent statistic is 13 per cent. Similarly, the country’s imports of intermediates from ECCAS accounted for only 0.7 per cent of its GDP in 2013, behind Sao Tome and Principe (13 per cent), Chad (3 per cent) and the Congo (2 per cent). The Central African Republic also has a poor level of integration concerning exports of intermediates and capital goods. Its exports of intermediates and capital goods to the countries of CEN-SAD only achieved 0.25 per cent of its GDP in 2013, far behind Côte d’Ivoire at 10 per cent and the Niger at 8 per cent. The country’s exports of intermediates and capital goods to ECCAS accounted for approximately 0.4 per cent of its GDP in the same year; these data are lower than those of Cameroon, where they represented 1.6 per cent of GDP. (UNCTAD, 2015; ECA and African Union Commission, 2015a).

Infrastructure: The integration of the Central African Republic into the rest of the region with respect to infrastructure is low, since it is ranked in the lowest third of the African countries in this dimension. On the basis of the most recent available data (2013), the per capita Internet speed of the Central African Republic of about 0.01 megabit per second is the fourth lowest in Africa and the country also has the eighth lowest net per capita electricity production capacity in the continent.

Financial integration and macroeconomic policy convergence: The index includes only one indicator on financial integration, which measures the number of other countries in the same regional economic community with which the currency in question is shared or convertible. Given that the Central African Republic is a member of the Coopération financière en Afrique central (CFA) franc zone, it obtains a good score on this indicator (first place in ECCAS and CENSAD shared with other member countries of the CFA zone), since the currencies of the majority of other African countries are not officially convertible. Additional information on the convergence of the macroeconomic policies of the Central African Republic can be obtained from this website.

  • Free movement of persons: Second in ECCAS (score: 0.66). Sao Tome and Principe is the best performing country in ECCAS (score: 0.7).Twenty-second in CEN-SAD (score: 0.27).  
  • Trade integration: Sixth in ECCAS (score: 0.52).Cameroon is the best performing country in ECCAS (score: 0.98).Twentieth in CEN-SAD (score: 0.18).
  • Productive integration: Ninth in ECCAS (score: 0.07). Burundi is the best performing country in ECCAS (score: 0.84).Twenty-sixth (joint) in CEN-SAD (score: 0.00).  
  • Infrastructure: Eighth in ECCAS (score: 0.40).The Congo is the best performing country in ECCAS (score: 0.69).Twenty-third in CEN-SAD (score: 0.12).  
  • Financial integration and macroeconomic policy con-vergence: Fourth in ECCAS (score: 0.89). Gabon is the best performing country in ECCAS (score: 1). Ninth in CEN-SAD (score: 0.94). 

References

(1) This is calculated as the average of the following quantities: the trade complementarity of the Central African Republic with CEN-SAD and its trade complementarity with ECCAS.