Leaders of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC) have renewed their commitment to accelerate sub-regional integration and foster growth. This was during an extraordinary summit convened by President Paul BIYA, current chair of the conference of the CEMAC Heads of State, at Unity Palace on 22 November 2019.

The session held under the theme: “Review of the Economic, Monetary and Financial Situation in the CEMAC Zone and Analysis of its Prospects”.

Present at the Yaounde rendezvous were President Idriss DEBY ITNO of Chad, H.E. Teodoro OBIANG NGUEMA MBASOGO of Equatorial Guinea, President Denis SASSOU NGUESSO of the Republic of Congo, H.E. Faustin Archange TOUADERA of the Central African Republic, and the Prime Minister of Gabon – Julien NKOGHE BEKALE, personal representative of President Ali BONGO ONDIMBA.

The event was marked by two speeches by H.E. Paul BIYA to open and close the summit with an in-camera meeting as interlude.

President Paul BIYA reiterated the common vision of the CEMAC Heads of State for a resilient, stable and prosperous community based on the improved economic and financial performance of the sub-regional body since the 2016 extraordinary summit in Yaounde.

“The growth rate in our sub-region stood at 1.8% in 2018 and inflation below 3%. Budget and external deficits have reduced considerably. Public debt stands at about 50% of gross domestic product (GDP) for the entire Community. Foreign exchange reserves in the CEMAC zone now stand at over three months of imports, thus ruling out the risk of currency adjustment,” he explained.

He recalled that the global macroeconomic context has many and strong uncertainties. This is characterised by the persistence of inequalities and exclusion in our societies, the immense need for jobs for young people and women, and the global security challenges.

However, President Paul BIYA noted that today’s exchanges have demonstrated the need to pursue the actions initiated three years ago to achieve CEMAC’s development goals. Thus, CEMAC member states will continue their collective strategy of economic and financial recovery with the help of traditional partners like the IMF, the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the French Development Agency.

President Paul BIYA also laid emphasis on the quality of fiscal consolidation, which must be both realistic in order to create the real conditions for reviving growth and improving people’s living conditions especially in the context that the sub-regional body’s monetary policy has ensured financial stability. The CEMAC Heads of State did not rule out the necessity to be flexible towards any reform on the Franc CFA.

In addition, the Cameroonian leader revealed that his peers welcomed the current level of foreign exchange reserves that are consistent with the fixed exchange rate regime of the sub-region. He hinted that CEMAC member states will pursue reforms to consolidate and support the banking sector of the sub-region.

President Paul Biya stated that CEMAC member states have the obligation to accelerate sub-regional integration through the effective implementation of the free movement of people and goods. He equally noted the importance of completing integrative projects with the financial support of CEMAC’s bilateral and multilateral partners.

The Head of State also highlighted the necessity to strengthen and diversify CEMAC economies, improve the business climate and increase the level of private investment. President Paul BIYA said CEMAC possesses all the economic and human assets needed to guarantee the economic development of its members as well as the well-being of its people.

In conclusion, H.E. Paul BIYA appreciated efforts made by the CEMAC Heads of State in curbing crises of various kinds in a common, coherent and concerted approach.

The final communique of the summit was presented by the President of the CEMAC Commission, H.E. Daniel ONA ONDO.