Doorsteps of Integration


There can be no better way of describing the latest moves taken by countries of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community- CEMAC. The successive opening of their frontiers by Gabon, Congo and Equatorial Guinea to their member countries is veritable courageous step in flinging open the doorsteps to real sub regional integration.

Though coming after a long drawn period considering that the decision taken by the Heads of State of the sub region was made right back in 2005 and ordered to effectively commence on January 01, 2013, a commencement that never was, it is however important to salute the adherence of the last three countries. As the saying goes, is it not better late than never at all? As Presidents of the member States prepare to meet in their Ordinary session in N’Djamena, there is every reason to hope many of such steps will be taken in order to fast-track the whole process of integration.

The suppression of entry visas for holders of valid biometric Ordinary Passport, biometric Service and Diplomatic passport is just a step into the full implementation of the integration programme. What then is left to be done is certainly the question lingering in some minds. Shortsighted business people are certainly jubilating without reasoning out how this will effectively happen. Yes, the doors of the borders have been flung open. Is this enough to carry bags of cash and dash into intra-regional trade?

Perhaps it is time to recall the whole network of fulfillments to be made in order to render free circulation of persons and goods more fluid. In fact, the absence of good road network, well developed transport system and the harmonized customs and tax procedures besides the intransigence of mutual border entries, is blamed for the low level of intraregional trade said to be the lowest in the continent at merely three percent. Now that visa requirements have been suppressed, it is time to follow up with other reforms, some of which include, the institution of a CEMAC passport and CEMAC Airline.

As nationals of CEMAC celebrate the opening of frontiers, it is important to state that trade development does not only depend on visa suppression. The sub region’s private sector needs to be developed and nodes of investment untied. The promotion of intraregional trade is a serious step towards diversifying revenue sources in the face of dwindling world oil prices as agreed during the last Extraordinary Summit of the Heads of State in Yaounde.

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