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CEMAC, ECCAS, LCBC: Stakes, Challenges For Integration

With the current global economic situation, these institutions must up their game by implementing reforms that will foster regional integration for a quick economic recovery.

T he Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) and the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) are three parallel institutions in the Central Africa Sub-region with varied missions. Their impact on the economies of the sub-region is however not very palpable as one would have expected going by their missions. CEMAC for instance was born with the desire to promote harmonised development in its member States in the framework of a common market. The CEMAC Economic and Financial Reforms Programme, drawn up in 2017 after the economic crunch that started in 2014 occasioned by slump in prices of commodities, insecurity and increasing humanitarian crisis, aimed at strengthening competitiveness of economic and financial activities by harmonising regulations that govern them; - ensure the convergence toward sustainable economic and financial performance by coordinating economic policies and rendering national budgetary policies consistent with the common monetary policy; create a common market based on free mobility of persons, goods, capital and services , amongst others. In October 2019, the Steering Committee of the Economic and Financial Reforms Programme of CEMAC identified 12 priority integrating projects worth FCFA 2.820 billion. The projects includes; the construction of 12 border posts equipped with axe-weighing machines and IT equipment, setting up of geostationary satellites, launching of the CEMAC centres of excellence programme, the development of cross border electricity interconnection grids, the construction of three dry ports in Douala, Ngueli (Tchad), and Beloko (Central African Republic), the construction of a regional telecommunications optic fibre backbone and the harmonisation and interconnection of customs administrations of the CEMAC region.

Established in 1983, ECCAS aims to achieve collective autonomy, raise the standard of living of its populations and maintain economic stability through harmonious cooperation. Its ultimate goal is to establish a Central African Common Market. At the Malabo Heads of State and Government Conference in 1999, four priority fields for the organization were identified: to develop capacities to maintain peace, security and stability, which are essential prerequisites for economic and social development; to develop physical, economic and monetary integration; to develop a culture of human integration; and to establish an autonomous financing mechanism for ECCAS. The tasks of ECCAS are defined in Chapter II Article 4 of the Treaty, which stipulates that the aim of the Community is to promote and strengthen harmonious co-operation and balanced and self-sustaining development in the fields of economic and social activity , in particular in the fields of industry, transport and communication, energy, agriculture, natural resources, trade, customs, monetary and financial matters, human resources, tourism, education, development, culture, science and technology, amongst others. During the 17th Conference of Head of States and Governments which held recently through a video conference, institutional reforms were effected to give ECCAS a new impetus. Various Commissions were created to invigorate regional integration and economic growth especially in the face of new challenges imposed by the coronavirus pandemic. As concerns the Lake Chad Basin Commission which comprises of Niger, Nigeria, Benin, Chad and Cameroon, its mission is principally to protect the environment from desertification and ensure environmental resilience through sustainable development projects. Created in 1964, the Lake Chad basin is today faced with risk of environmental hazards as the water body of the Lake continuous to diminish putting the lives of 30 millions of people whose survival depends on the lake. Lake Chad which used to pride itself as the largest fresh water body in the continent has lost about 90 per cent of its water body since 1960 due to the effects of climate change coupled with terrorism activities in the last decade. A Regional Strategy for the Stabilization, Recovery and Resilience of the Boko Haram Affected Areas of the Lake Chad Basin Region is estimated to cost 12 billion USD. One of the pillars of the recovery plan is the socio-economic recovery and environmental sustainability as well as integration. In Cameroon, the Lake Chad Basin Commission has been investing in the areas of environmental protection and resilience. It recently published tender notices for the planting of 600 trees in 14 Councils in the Far North Region of Cameroon to fight desertification. The FCFA 356.8 million project envisages the construction of two classrooms as well as modern latrines in the Far North Region.

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