ICE 2017: ECA praised for “excellent initiative” in Central Africa
Cameroon’s Minister of Trade, Mr. Luc Magloire Mbarga Atangana, has described the upcoming meeting of the Inter-Governmental Committee of Experts for Central Africa (ICE 2017) as “an excellent initiative,” given its focus on promoting industrialization, regional integration and the consumption of products made in Central Africa.
Mr. Atangana was speaking during a meeting with Antonio Pedro, Director of ECA’s Sub-Regional Office for Central Africa (SRO-CA), on 12 September 2017 in Yaoundé, Cameroon.
Mr. Pedro told the minister that the choice of the theme for the ICE 2017, “Made in Central Africa: from a vicious to a virtuous circle,” was ECA’s way of responding to the decision taken on 23 December 2016 during the Extraordinary Summit of Central African heads of state of government to diversify their economies as a means to reducing the region’s vulnerability to external shocks and dependence on the export of raw materials.
Both personalities agreed that Central Africa’s rich endowments in natural resources and the market opportunities that the operationalization of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) would create provide the necessary fundamentals for sustainable structural transformation and job creation in Central Africa.
They discussed progress made by other RECs in promoting intra-Africa trade, noting that “Central Africa is lagging behind other sub-regions, but that its success stories should be emulated and replicated for scale and transformational change.”
They also concurred that “by maximizing trade in intermediate goods and fostering backward and forward integration, countries in Central Africa will benefit more from trading with each other than with the external world.”
The Minister of Trade stated that with a population of more than 150 million, Central Africa provides a “big enough market” for all its member states, “especially if we effectively promote free movement of goods and services.”
He cited a “positive example” of Cameroon, which imports palm oil from Gabon for its refineries that produce vegetable oils and soap. “We need to do more of this,” said Mr. Atangana who then deplored the fact that Cameroon’s textile industry does not benefit much from the country’s cotton production since, “only about 4% is transformed locally. The rest is exported.”
Mr. Atangana said ECA’s continental knowledge and expertise in structural transformation and trade issues will be of great benefit to Cameroon and the entire Central African sub region.
Against this backdrop, Mr. Pedro congratulated Cameroon for its ongoing efforts to promote locally produced goods in supermarkets and other strategic areas around the country. “This is in line with our own vision at ECA,” he added.
The ECA director reassured the minister of ECA’s support, stating, “ECA is available to provide evidence-based analyses on the potential of free trade areas within Africa and also support all other efforts to boost economic diversification and the productive capabilities of countries in the sub region. We look forward to collaborating with you and your ministry in advancing this agenda.”
Addressing the media after his meeting with the minister, Mr. Pedro said: “I was pleased with my meeting with the minister. We share the same vision and agreed that it is essential to redirect our efforts towards the promotion of economic diversification in Central Africa through resource-driven and trade-induced industrialization. So we’ve found a very good partner in Cameroon.”
ICE 2017 will take place in Douala from 26-29 September 2017. It provides opportunity for high-level policy makers, captains of industry and other stakeholder to reflect on how to create resilient and globally competitive economies in Central Africa through the promotion of local production and consumption.
It will bring together representatives of ministries in charge of planning, economy, industry, mines, trade, and small and medium-sized enterprises; delegates from ECCAS, CEMAC and their specialized agencies; representatives of UNIDO, FAO, UNDP, AfDB, the private sector, civil society, universities and research centres in the sub-region.
Thirty-Third Meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts (ICE 2017)
Douala, Cameroon, 26-29 September 2017
The overarching objective of the thirty-third session of ICE is to review regulatory issues pertaining to the mandate and functioning of the SRO-CA, enable experts to discuss economic and social development issues in Central Africa and, particularly, the development of an industrial fabric in Central Africa as well as propose strategies for accelerating structural transformation of the economies of the sub-region.
The meeting also aims to take stock of the status of implementation of sub-regional, regional and international initiatives and make appropriate recommendations for inclusive and sustainable development in Central Africa. Another objective of the meeting is to review progress made in the implementation of ECA/SRO-CA’s 2016 programme of work and provide directions for the implementation of the Office’s 2017 programme.
Participants will listen to presentations on the theme of the ICE and consider the following documents: (i) report on the socio-economic situation in Central Africa; (ii) ECA/SRO-CA activity report for 2016 and 2017 programme of work; (iii) annual progress report on regional and international programmes and other specific initiatives in the sub-region; (iv) annual report on sub-regional initiatives devoted to roaming this year; and (v) 2017 edition of the Economic Report on Africa.