(Business in Cameroon) - The next summit of Cemac Head of States will take place next March 17 in Yaoundé, we learned from a letter signed by Daniel Ona Ondo, the President of the CEMAC Commission. Cameroon’s President and current President of CEMAC Paul Biya also sent invitation letters to his counterparts through his collaborators.
The Minister of Finance, Louis Paul Motaze, was sent to meet with President Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo, and President Faustin Archange Touadera of the Central African Republic. The Foreign Minister Lejeune Mbella Mbella was received by President Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon, while President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea received the Minister of the Economy, Alamine Ousmane Mey.
A Council of Ministers of the Central African Monetary Union (Umac) is scheduled for March 15, ahead of the actual summit. The preliminary workshop will discuss topics to be addressed during the summit, including the implementation of the Economic and Financial Reform Program (Pref-Cemac), the evolution of the rationalization process of the Central African Regional Economic Communities (Economic Community of Central African States -CEEAC, Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa -Cemac, and the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries -CEPGL); the CFA reform; the Russia-Ukraine war, cryptocurrencies, and appointments within Cemac bodies and institutions, given that some have reached the end of their terms. The position of President of CEMAC has been held since March 2019 by President Paul Biya, for a one-year term; the six members of the CEMAC government have been in office since February 2017 for a five-year term; and the President of the Central African Financial Market Supervisory Commission (Cosumaf), in office since December 2017 for a five-year term.
For now, we do not know whether the new appointments will be done based on the rotation principle. The Conference of Heads of State is expected to evaluate the implementation of this principle, which requires that nationals of Community States succeed each other at the head of bodies and institutions, according to the alphabetical order of countries' names. Let’s recall that despite its existence, the appointment of the president of the Development Bank of Central African States (BDEAC) raised tensions between Cameroon and Chad last year. Each country claimed it was its turn to run. In the end, the position went to Cameroonian Evou Mekou. Chad nevertheless obtained the promise of "a senior position in one of the Umac institutions”.
Concerning the CFA reform, it is expected that the Governor of the Bank of Central African States (Beac), Abbas Mahamat Tolli, present the results of his work on the issue. This work was entrusted to him along with the Cemac Commission, during the extraordinary summit of November 22, 2019. The heads of state want "an in-depth reflection on the conditions and framework of a new monetary cooperation" with France, knowing they are attached to "a stable and strong common currency".
Another monetary issue to be addressed is cryptocurrency. The consequences of these types of currencies on the economies of the sub-region are expected to be discussed, especially since the Central African Republic adopted Bitcoin as a legal tender in April 2022. For the governor of the Beac, this decision violates the monetary cooperation agreements with France, the texts governing the monetary union, and the statutes of the Bank of Central African States.
The March 17 summit is also the occasion to discuss the implementation of Pref-Cemac. At the end of the extraordinary meeting of August 18, 2021, the heads of state insisted on the need for all countries in the sub-region to conclude, during 2021, second-generation programs and finalize the first-generation programs with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The goal is to accelerate structural reforms to deal with the economic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, exacerbated by the war in Ukraine.
However, to date, only four countries have concluded programs with the IMF in line with the objectives of Pref-Cemac. These are Gabon, Cameroon, Chad, and Congo. The implementation of the first-generation programs in CAR and Equatorial Guinea is lagging.
Aboudi Ottou and Ludovic Amara
Translated from French by Firmine AIZAN