The birth of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC) was heralded as a means to create an atmosphere in the sub-region of Central Africa where all the member states could enjoy its benefits. The results are however far from the original expectations. Member states are still taking unilateral actions. There are perceptible border tensions despite the existence of a common passport for all six states. Overall, the origins of this integration can be traced to the early sixties, when the first free trade agreements were concluded; on the basis of these agreements, the Economic Community of Central African States was formed (IMF 2006). At the given moment, the effects of this policy are still debated by economists and sociologists (Ulfelder, 2008). The problem in this study will be to examine the impacts of regional integration in Central Africa in this chapter.
The main focus of this chapter, the literature review chapter, will be on the effects of regional integration on trade, migration, and border control as it appears in the current scholarly literature. This chapter will investigate current scholarship into the most important question, namely, whether Central African countries currently act as partners or competitors as a result of regional integration. The literature review will include a brief history of regional integration in Africa, as well as an overview of the rationale and formation of CEMAC.
Prior research has primarily focused on the free trade agreements adopted by the governments of Central African states, and their role in attracting new investors (Yang & Gupta, 2007). For example, such scholars as Yang and Gupta (2007) tried to determine if the liberalization of international policies did revitalize economic life in this region. Similar research has been done by Ronald Pourtier (2003), who examined the current integration projects in Central Africa. It should be noted that this research discussed the influence of these policies on the demographic situation in this region. The analysis of regional integration is primarily based on various theories of free trade which postulate that elimination of trade barriers and liberalization policies are vital for successful functioning of the economy and infrastructure.
As the current study will be based on the combination of quantitative and qualitative research methods, the literature review will reflect this methodology wherever possible (Hesse-Biber, 2010). Studies that have employed regression analysis in order to measure the relations between such independent variables as regional integration, particularly the adoption of free trade agreements, and dependent variables like the intensity of trade and migration in the CEMAC region, will be highlighted. In line with the goals of the study, the literature review will concern itself with the econometric data and studies published from within the last ten years. Furthermore, the literature review will include studies that have relied primarily on such qualitative methods as interviews in order to gather key data, specifically to answer the question of how regional integration has affected the lives of urban populations in Central African countries. Finally, the literature review will examine the effects of regional integration on border control between CEMAC member states.
The following literature review on the impact of regional integration on trade and human migration in Central Africa employed a number of different search methods in its compilation. The research began with online searches of several academic databases, hosted by the EBSCO hub, Academic Search Premier, MasterFILE Premier, Newspaper Source Plus, and AP NewsMonitor Collection. Other databases consulted for this topic include Emerald Insight, Academic OneFile, Expanded Academic ASAP, General OneFile, Global Issues in Context, Newsstand, Opposing Views in Context, Popular Magazines, and World History in Context. Relevant books were also included in the review. The combined effect of the scholarly literature and the books allowed the researcher to glean a comprehensive reading of the topic. This in turn created the structural support for the concepts of economic integration, trade, regional integration, human migration, and the particular challenges the continent of Africa faces in implementing a viable model of regional integration.
Regional integration refers to the economic practice wherein distinct states enter into a regional treaty or accord in order to develop regional cooperation amongst themselves. Typically, regional integration is achieved through a series of institutions and regulations drafted by and adhered to by all member states. Simply put, regional integration is a course of action by which an assemblage of countries frees up trade restrictions by negotiating free trade zones or customs unions. This process thereby develops the common market amongst member states wherein services, goods and capital can be freely bought and sold, and individuals from member states enjoy relaxed labor, travel, and citizenship laws (Massara & Udaeta, 2010; Ohmae, 1995).
In more complex example of regional integration, member states may introduce a standardized currency, enact uniform policies and make some legislation uniform, as exemplified by the European Union (Ohmae, 1995). Since the late 20th century, the global order has radically changed: individual borders no longer dictate economic relationships. The experience of Greece notwithstanding, the European Union emerged as a clear example of the benefits of regional integration, including expanded markets and greater opportunity for trade. Additional benefits of regional integration include lower prices for consumers, enhanced security, increased economic competition, higher levels of investment, both domestic and foreign, and overall improvement in economic and social stability among member states.
Beyond this simple definition lies a host of challenges however, particularly in a system as diverse as Africa. Member states of the European Union, for example, while diverse in language and culture, are all relatively affluent Western democracies that exist geographically close together. Africa, by contrast, is a massive continent characterized by huge differences in wealth, ethnicity, terrain, religion, political systems, and access to natural resources among its millions of citizens (Africa’s Regional Institutions, 2012; Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, 2012; Martijn & Tsangarides, 2010; Mutambara, 2009; Severino, 2001; United Nations Economic and Social Council, 2008).
The long-term goal of regional integration is ultimately economic in nature; however, the journey toward full economic integration starts with an organized regional agreement among interested parties, which is incredibly challenging in Africa (Africa’s Regional Institutions, 2012; Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, 2012). The numerous interests located in the African continent share the common goal of devising, sustaining and constructing an “all inclusive African Economic Union” with the aim of promoting economic augmentation throughout the continent of Africa, as well as providing am incentive for political constancy and viable governance (Ott & Patino, 2009, p. 287). However, in a continent as diverse as Africa, the prospect of regional integration of its countries throws up significant roadblocks to implementation (Africa’s Regional Institutions, 2012; Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, 2012). As Otto and Patino (2009) explain:
The African Universe is marked by a high degree of diversity among its members…Africa is a vast continent with 56 countries…50 are in the Sub-Saharan region and…6 in North Africa. Although…geographically in the African continent… Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia and Western Sahara are commonly identified as Middle Eastern countries…The geographical distribution of the 50 countries in Africa South of the Sahara is such that 18 countries are in West Africa, 8 countries in East Africa…including the Horn of Africa…10 countries in Central Africa, 10 countries in Southern Africa and 4 countries are Indian Ocean Islands (p. 287).
On the continent of Africa, the acknowledged aim and purpose of economic integration is understood to be laying the groundwork for economic expansion and improved material comfort for its citizens (Africa’s Regional Institutions, 2012; Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, 2012). However, as Ott and Patino (2009) note, “other motives obviously cannot be ruled out: political stability, exercise of political power in the global economy, or improving the continent’s image in the international arena” (p. 285).
The World Bank has long been an advocate of regional integration plans in Africa (Africa’s Regional Institutions, 2012; Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, 2012). In recent years, the World Bank has “significantly scaled up support…following the launch of the IDA regional financing instrument and dedicated pool of funding in 2003 and formation of the Africa Regional Integration Department in 2004” (Africa’s Regional Institutions, 2012, par. 5; Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, 2012). Stalwart regional institutions are required to bring the African countries together and to organize national level policy reforms, structure collective regional activities and support the “platform, impetus and commitment mechanism for deeper integration” (Africa’s Regional Institutions, 2012, par. 4; Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, 2012).
The main challenges are that Africa is a collection of a host of regional institutions (Africa’s Regional Institutions, 2012; Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, 2012). At the top level, the African Union “seeks to unify the continent through a process of political and economic integration” (Africa’s Regional Institutions, 2012, par. 5; Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, 2012). At the lower regional level, Africa’s Regional Economic Communities or RECs are composed of “groupings of neighboring countries working together to tackle joint development issues, create free trade blocks and customs unions and ultimately form political unions” (Africa’s Regional Institutions, 2012, par. 7; Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, 2012).
Many analysts consider the Africa’s Regional Economic Communities as the essential “building blocks to the African Common Market” (Africa’s Regional Institutions, 2012, par. 7; Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, 2012; Fawcett & Gandois, 2010; Hartzenberg, 2011). In addition, an arrangement of regional technical organizations have also been established to attend to “sector or geographic specific issues such as river basin, power pool and transport corridor management” (Africa’s Regional Institutions, 2012, par. 7; Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, 2012).
Economic development in Africa is challenged by the continent’s “unique physical, economic and political geography” (Africa’s Regional Institutions, 2012, par. 8; Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, 2012). Political borders do not often match with the financial and natural resources and a number of countries do not have access to water for transportation, so must rely on other forms. Also, “national economies and populations are generally quite small, but cover large geographic expanses with poor connective infrastructure” (Africa’s Regional Institutions, 2012, par. 7; Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, 2012).
The continent of Africa is also comprised of a “diverse array of regional institutions promoting greater political and economic integration among neighboring countries and tackling shared resource management issues” (Africa’s Regional Institutions, 2012, par. 7; Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, 2012). The main goal of the African Union is to bring together African countries under a common political vision and common economic market (Africa’s Regional Institutions, 2012; Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, 2012). In addition, at the regional level, the Regional Economic Communities join neighboring countries and organizations to tackle “common development challenges and deepen economic and political integration” (Africa’s Regional Institutions, 2012, par. 7; Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, 2012). Africa’s regional technical organizations concentrate on “specific cross-border issues such as international river basin management, regional power trading and cross-border disease transmission” (Africa’s Regional Institutions, 2012, par. 11; Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, 2012).
This literature review lead the researcher to the conclusion that improving the lives of the people in Africa through the ultimate goal of successful regional integration may occur in some countries and not in others, due in large part to the broadly divergent stages of development that exist within the continent, the power and advanced nature of other well- established trading blocs in the world such as the European Union and NAFTA, the dearth of a common African currency, post-colonial traditions, massive continent-wide debt (Danso, 1995; Ott & Patino, 2009). In addition, the continent of Africa suffers from a deeply neglected infrastructure. According to the African Development Bank Group (2011):
Poor communications inhibit free interstate movement of goods and services [and] are major obstacles facing continental integration. [Also], the poorly developed network of regional infrastructure, especially in transport [and] energy…and the unsuitable array of legal, institutional and regulatory frameworks…cannot be ignored (p. 1).
Regional integration has been viewed by a number of scholars as a means by which
Africa can develop foreign direct investment and staunch the flow of migrant workers from its borders to Europe and the Arab countries (Agbetsiafa, 2010; Aminian et al., 2008; Aning, 2007; Castles, 2009; Cockburn & Njikam, 2011; Cyrille, 2010; Danso, 1995; Gibb, 2009; Hammouda, Karingi, Njuguna, & Jallab, 2009; Mkwezalamba & Chinyama, 2007; Ondoa & Tabi, 2011; Ott & Patino, 2009; Teague, 2003; Thomas, 2011; Tsangarides, Ewenczyk, Hulej & Qureshi, 2009; Yang & Gupta, 2007). However, integration needs to happen at the human level before it can happen at the economic one, and according to most of the literature reviewed, competition for scarce resources and the dire poverty faced by most of the continent’s citizens conspire to make trade agreements difficult to implement. Interestingly, the solution to the problem of Africa’s poverty and stalled development demands a concerted effort on the part not only of governments but of individual Africans to invest both economically and psychologically in the future of their home.
Recent Economic History of Africa
The African Economic Community (AEC) was founded in 1991 by the representatives of 34 African countries (Danso, 1995). At that meeting, which took place in Nigeria, the leaders signed the trade agreement with an eye to establish regional integration by 2025 (Danso, 1995). The purpose of the African Economic Community treaty was to “create a framework for the development, mobilization, and utilization of African human and material resources in an effort to achieve continental self-sufficiency” (Danso, 1995, p. 31)
Cold War Effects
Danso (1995) posited that much of the interest in the need for a trade policy came at the close of the Cold War, as this event “marked increasing concern for the marginalization of the African continent” (p. 31). As the Cold War became relegated to history, Africa lost significant economic ground in the 1980s: the continent’s stake in the world economy dropped to under two percent in 1985, Africa trade terms decreased by 40 percent, and in the early part of the decade, the poverty level in Africa “catapulted while incomes per head plummeted by 20 percent” (Danso, 1995, p. 31).
Africa earned the dubious honor in the 1980s as being the sole continent whose per capita output deteriorated over and over again throughout the decade. As Danso (1995) notes, per capita output fell from “$752 in 1980 to $641…in 1987” (p. 31). In addition, the rate of capital formation in the continent dropped from 21 percent of GDP in 1980 to 15.6 percent in 1986 (Danso, 1995, p. 31). Consequently, capital stock declined. Compared to other developing countries, per capita private consumption in Africa fell by one-fifth over the course of the decade, from “levels that were too low even in comparison to other developing regions” (Danso, 1995, p. 31). Core government infrastructure also saw steady decline during the same period. Government support for healthcare and education dropped from 25 percent in 1986 to under 20 percent in 1988 (Danso, 1995, p. 31). As a result, Danso (1995) notes, 10,000 children passed away every day as a result of “malnutrition and the non-availability of rudimentary health care” (p. 31).
In 1985, Africa underwent an unemployment crisis that saw 22 million citizens go without work, which was exacerbated by “another 95 million under-employed in the workforce” (Danso, 1995, p. 33). In 1988, the Economic Commission for Africa’s commodity price index revealed that wholesale prices for the continent’s key exports had declined to only 54.2 percent of the levels they attained in 1980 (Danso, 1995). In addition, debt rose to $315 billion (Danso, 1995). This figure represented a more than three times the continent’s total export earnings annually. Capital also stagnated in the 1980s. As Danso (1995), notes in 1980 “the total net resource flows to sub-Saharan Africa…at 1986 exchange rates…stood at $17.3 billion. By the end of the decade, they had risen only marginally to $17.9 billion” (p. 33).
Historically speaking, Africa’s predicament has been unique among developing nations. The continent as a whole has struggled to find its economic footing, with little progress made. The losses which characterized the 1980s were never made up by the end of that decade (Danso, 1995). Consistently, the historical data shows that Africa functions poorly or not at all according to all economic and social indices. As Danso (1995) explains,
Compared with other developing regions, sub-Saharan Africa has the lowest GDP growth rate, intake of daily calories per capita, fewer doctors per capita, and the lowest life expectancy of the four major developing groups including East Asia, South Asia, and Latin America. Africa lost the ability to feed itself during the 1980s: in 1974, it imported 3.9 metric tons of cereal, but by 1985, it had to import 10.2 million tons. During this same period, food aid increased from 0.9 million tons to 4.8 million tons of cereal (p. 36).
Foreign direct investment has also remained stagnant since the 1980s. The importance of foreign direct investment as the key source of private capital from foreign sources cannot be overstated, and Africa’s infrastructure has suffered as a result of this chronic lack of foreign private capital (Danso, 1995). As Danso (1995) notes, “net FDI inflows to Africa rose from $1.7 billion in 1993 to $2 billion in 1994, but the continent’s share of total FDI to developing countries fell from 10 percent in 1987-91 to 2 percent in 1992-94” (p. 36). The African continent has not been successful in substituting the waning trend of foreign direct investment with increases in investment from the local region. As Danso (1995) notes, “gross fixed capital formation, a measure of the level of investment in the economy, has declined in Africa from a total of $76.3 billion in 1980 to $58.9 billion in 1989” (p. 36).
As of 2007, these numbers had sadly not changed that much. According to Mkwezalamba and Chinyama (2007), “34 countries out of the 49…or approximately 70 percent…of the poorest countries in the world are from Africa” (p. 1). Despite the passage of almost 30 years, nearly 50 of the citizenry live in dire poverty, deprivation and starvation, and the rate of HIV/AIDS infection remains highest in Africa when compared to other countries (Mkwezalamba and Chinyama, 2007).A number of countries in the continent of Africa have been fighting the “vicious circle of poverty, social-political conflict and underemployment” (Mkwezalamba and Chinyama, 2007, p. 1). In addition, rampant corruption continues to exact a heavy toll on growth and development (Mkwezalamba and Chinyama, 2007, p. 1).
The Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC)
The Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa or CEMAC was created in March, 1994 (Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa). CEMAC stands for the “Communauté Economique et Monétaire d’Afrique Centrale” (Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, par. 2). The organization was originally called the Union Douanière et Economique de l’Afrique Centrale, or UDEAC, and functioned as a “a customs and monetary union among the former French Central African countries…Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Congo ( Brazzaville), Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon” (Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, par. 3; Nkendah, 2010). CEMAC is one of Africa’s most vital regional organizations, in addition to the Western CFA Zone (Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, 2012, par. 3).
CEMAC was created by the countries “Cameroon, CAR, Chad, the Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon…to take over the Customs and Economic Union of Central Africa…with the main aim of promoting economic integration among the six countries that share a common currency, the CFA franc, pegged to the euro” (Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, 2012, par. 3; News analysis: CEMAC head expelled ahead of summit, 2012). CEMAC’s main objectives also include “the promotion of trade, the institution of a genuine common market and greater solidarity among peoples” (Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, 2012, par. 3; News analysis: CEMAC head expelled ahead of summit, 2012).
In 1994, CEMAC introduced “quota restrictions and reductions in the range and amount of tariffs” (Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, 2012, par. 3; News analysis: CEMAC head expelled ahead of summit, 2012). At the present time, the CEMAC countries “share a common financial, regulatory, and legal structure, and maintain a common external tariff on imports from non-CEMAC countries” (Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, 2012, par. 3; News analysis: CEMAC head expelled ahead of summit, 2012). Thus, theoretically speaking, “tariffs have been eliminated on trade within CEMAC, but full implementation of this has been delayed. Movement of capital within CEMAC is free” (Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, 2012, par. 3; News analysis: CEMAC head expelled ahead of summit, 2012).
Recent Developments in CEMAC
The recent policy environment for the CEMAC region has been shaped by increasing oil prices, higher oil output and revenues, and the sharp appreciation of the CFA (along with the Euro) against the US dollar. The zone as a whole benefited from a substantial increase in growth (reaching nearly 8 percent in 2004), inflation below Euro area levels, and substantial increases in foreign exchange reserves. These overall positive economic developments, however, pose macroeconomic challenges for the conduct of monetary and fiscal policies. Additional policy challenges relate to the use of oil related inflows and to setting common policies in the context of significant cross-country differences in economic performance. Since the ratification of the CEMAC treaty in 1999, the subregion has been moving towards fuller economic and monetary integration.
Macroeconomic convergence has improved with greater country adherence to both fiscal and non-fiscal criteria of convergence modeled on the European Union experience. In the last two years, government fiscal and external balances have been strengthened, and the reserves of the BEAC have increased. The economies grew at 3.0% in 2000, 5.4% in 2001, 4.5% in 2002 and 4.7% in 2003 reflecting favorable world oil prices and an improved management of public resources. There has been some progress on other fronts. A regulatory framework governing microfinance institutions has been adopted. Banking restructuring has proceeded rapidly, with bank compliance with key financial ratios improving throughout the zone. With the assistance of the EU, the CEMAC is developing a regional road network (1999-2010) that will connect the capitals of the Central African countries.
The customs union still does not function efficiently. Trade within the region amounts to: Imports — 2% of total imports; exports — 1% of total exports. Absence of economic complementarities and administrative hurdles continue to hinder the flow of goods, services, and people in the sub-region. Intra-regional trade still remains considerably low at below 10%, even in comparison to its West African counterpart. Although there is some mobility of goods and people across borders, discretionary behavior by customs officials and local authorities creates an impediment to a common economic space. Regional integration is still not viewed in the zone as a vehicle for great integration in the global trading system.
The volatility of oil prices presents a cause for concern. An oil price decrease will hurt the competitiveness of CEMAC countries and will worsen external and fiscal balances. Thus, there is a major need to restrain spending and monitor oil resources carefully in order to achieve fiscal discipline and successful macroeconomic convergence in the coming years. While oil production is projected to increase in Equatorial Guinea and Chad in the future, the oil sector continues to contract in Cameroon, Gabon, and the Republic of Congo, thus threatening to weaken their economic performance over the next decade. Furthermore, the political momentum for regional integration needs to be heightened in order to improve the slow pace of implementation in some fronts, ie (taxation, regional stock exchange, and common external tariff rates).
From the social point of view, steady economic growth has done little to dent rampant poverty in the region. In Congo, 70 % of the population lives on less than $ 1 a day. In Cameroon and Chad, the percentages were 46 % and 64 % respectively. While 30% of the population of CEMAC suffer hunger and nutritional deficiencies.
Recent CEMAC Developments
This is how President Paul Biya described the ninth summit of the Heads of State of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community, CEMAC. The out-going CEMAC Chairman had every reason to hail the summit that ended in Yaounde yesterday if we have to go by the strides made in reinforcing CEMAC institutions and sub regional integration. The record participation of Heads of States, as could be seen in the presence of five of the six Presidents of CEMAC member countries (only Chad was represented by the Prime Minister), the participation of the President of Sao Tome and Principe and the representative of the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo as observers, translated the collective resolve and determination of the Statesmen to move the sub region forward.
Such commitment was reflected in high soaring resolutions taken. Resolutions which touched on key issues of the community’s survival. And which, if properly implemented, would have far-reaching effects on the livelihood of the population of the sub region. Moreover, the specification of time limits within which most of the projects have to be implemented, translates the determination of the Heads of State to break away from rhetoric to concrete action.
After years of feet-dragging, during which CEMAC seemed reneging on the attainment of its integration objectives, the Yaounde summit can, therefore, be considered as a turning point. The desire to concretise most of the reforms that have been in gestation for sometime is evident. The summit has traced the way forward; the path to effective integration and development of the sub region. Be it with regards to the free circulation of people and goods, the appointment of officials to posts of responsibility in CEMAC structures , etc, the desire to move from intention to action is evident.
If the roadmap of the Heads of State is respected, the common passport for the sub region, (the CEMAC passport), will go into force by January 2010. This will be a giant step in ensuring the free movement of people in the sub region as the passport will be the only travel document required to move from one country of the sub region to another. In this light, the CEMAC Commission was instructed to organise workshops to acquaint the police forces of the new dispensation. The CEMAC parliament, on the other hand, is expected to go in force next year, while work will accelerate for the effective take off of Air CEMAC. The CEMAC Commission has been asked to work in collaboration with viable airlines to come out with concrete suggestions for a technical partner. In the meantime, a regional economic programme has to ready by December for adoption by the Heads of State in an extraordinary CEMAC summit.
The desire to move forward was also demonstrated by the appointment of the different Commissioners of the CEMAC Commission who will have to deal with specific issues such as the common market, human rights, transport… This will, no doubt, instil dynamism into the Commission and accelerate work in the different domains. Besides, the award of honorific distinctions to some of those who have been working selflessly for the progress of CEMAC, will definitely spur others to emulate their example. The institution of a CEMAC Day, to be commemorated every March 16, is a plus in this direction. It will be an ideal occasion for member States to explain the community’s ideology to their people.
In the days ahead, therefore, we expect a change. A detachment from the egoism and nationalistic tendencies that have kept the CEMAC sub region backwards. It is our common destiny that is at stake. That is why the Heads of State who met in Yaounde were preoccupied by the situation in Chad. While condemning the recurrent rebel attacks, the Heads of State resolved to assist Chad financial and materially. In effect, instability in one country of the sub region directly has a negative impact on the other nations. The same can be said of insecurity. Wherefore the resolve to join forces in the fight against crime.
The task ahead is enormous. The ball is now in the court of President Francois Bozize of the Republic of Central Africa who, yesterday, took over the command baton of CEMAC from President Paul Biya (Morikang, 2008).
The assertion that primary products contribute 85 per cent to the economy of the Central African sub-region will be validated or invalidated tomorrow at the Yaounde Hilton. Economic experts from the Ministries in charge of the economy of various countries, representatives of international institutions, representatives of economic communities and representatives of the financial and private sector, will screen a study carried out to that effect under the supervision of the Economic Commission for Africa Sub-regional Office for Central Africa.
According to Mamadou Hachim Koumare , Director of the Central African ECA Office, the study was carried out on the basis of two observations: countries of Central Africa depend so much on the exportation of their primary products including traditional agricultural products, food products and hydrocarbon and this dependency is strongest compared to other sub-regions in Africa; secondly, existing analytical work shows that dependency on basic products retards economic growth especially where the institutional framework of the country is weak.
Conducted in 2007 by a team of experts from the ECA Central African Office and other economic actors in the sub-region, the study is expected to act as an important guide for policy formulation in the various countries of the sub-region.
Ahead of the validation of the study, authorities of the ECA Central African Office have been attempting explanations on the importance of primary products to CEMAC and regretting that this has so far been thwarted by a number of things. These include: the lack of good road infrastructure, which renders things difficult for the population to take their products to the market and low level of local processing. According to one of the experts, the sub-region benefits only five to ten per cent of the added value as a result of exporting primary products to be processed abroad (Nyuylime, 2008)
Transportation and International Trade
Representatives from CEMAC member states with backgrounds in road transport and international trade from within the Central African Sub-region CEMAC group met to brainstorm ways to augment boosting the transportation and transit of goods as well as surmounting challenges that have held down inter-State trade (News analysis: CEMAC head expelled ahead of summit, 2012). The International Road Transport Union, a world road transport body that “promotes the interests of bus, coach, taxi and truck operators to ensure economic growth and prosperity through the sustainable mobility of people and goods by road, the workshop participants are sharing experiences on best practices to boost inter-State trade and by extension the economies of the respective” (News analysis: CEMAC head expelled ahead of summit, 2012, par. 4). Topics of interest to CEMAC member in particular include “benefits of effectively implementing United Nations and multilateral conventions on road transport and trade Strategies of developing trade in Africa” (News analysis: CEMAC head expelled ahead of summit, 2012, par. 4). Cameroon’s Minister of Transport, Robert Nkili, oversaw the opening ceremony and gave voice to the problems in infrastructure that the country faces where international trade and transportation are concerned (News analysis: CEMAC head expelled ahead of summit, 2012, par. 4). According to Robert Nkili:
Safety in road transport, its sustainability as well as vibrant trade are indispensable both for sub-regional integration and the emergence of its economies. Given Cameroon’s central position in the sub-region, [the] government has been unwavering in modernising the corridor for hitch-free transit of goods and persons and exchanges between citizens, although some difficulties persist (News analysis: CEMAC head expelled ahead of summit, 2012, par. 5).
For CEMAC member states, “adopting a unique international control license, training road users on best practices so as to limit endemic corruption on the roads as well as limiting check-points in which transit vehicles…are needed” (News analysis: CEMAC head expelled ahead of summit, 2012, par 6). In addition, the Deputy Secretary General of International Road Transport Union, Umberto de Pretto, understands that the “problem to road transport and trade within CEMAC is human” (News analysis: CEMAC head expelled ahead of summit, 2012, par 6). Poor infrastructure and corruption are the leading obstacles (Bainkong, 2012). According to Umberto de Pretto:
Trade and roads are inseparable. You need sufficient roads to enhance trade. If your economy takes off, you have money for more roads. We can bring training to make your managers professional so that business that drives the economy can boom,” Umberto de Pretto added. The workshop ends today (News analysis: CEMAC head expelled ahead of summit, 2012, par 6).
Alleged Corruption within CEMAC
A few weeks prior to a meeting of the six countered of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central African States, CAR President Francois Bozize expelled the top CEMAC official, Antoine Ntsimi from his CEMAC role, and debarred the official from the CEMAC headquarters in Bangui, the capital city of the Central African Republic (News analysis: CEMAC head expelled ahead of summit, 2012, par 6). Francois Bozize was tight lipped about the reasons for the expulsion, and told news agencies “we believe his expulsion from CAR was just the result of a misunderstanding and he will soon be back in Bangui to resume his duties to prepare for the next CEMAC summit scheduled for May this year in Brazzaville” (News analysis: CEMAC head expelled ahead of summit, 2012, par 6). However, corruption rumors are rampant (News analysis: CEMAC head expelled ahead of summit, 2012, par 6).
According to sources within CEMAC, Antoine Ntsimi “withdraws large sums of money from the CEMAC account with the Bank of Central African States…in Yaounde, whose sums are then transferred to an account of one of Ntsimi’s sons in France” (News analysis: CEMAC head expelled ahead of summit, 2012, par 6). These rather excessive sums of money are then “withdrawn to hire planes for his frequent journeys abroad and thus considered to be too extravagant, costing the community, one of the poorest and most backward on the African continent, hundreds of millions of CFA francs every month” (News analysis: CEMAC head expelled ahead of summit, 2012, par 6). Therefore, the CAR President Francois Bozize and the CAR authorities in Bangui are displeased with the management of CEMAC and want Antoine Ntsimi replaced with a more prudent official (News analysis: CEMAC head expelled ahead of summit, 2012, par 6). The incident casts light on the corruption problems that plague CEMAC and other African organizations and support the analysis that many of the problems associated with the implementation of regional integration are human (News analysis: CEMAC head expelled ahead of summit, 2012, par 6).
One of the most significant challenges that regional integration faces in Africa lies in the continued competitive nature of the relationship between member countries. Efforts to excise both tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade have consistently faced obstacles to implementation (Economic Commission for Africa, 2008; Economic Commission for Africa, 2010). In the area of non-tariff barriers in particular, several problems have arisen. According to the Economic Commission for Africa (2008), “customs officials, police roadblocks and constant harassment by immigration officials hamper free trade” (p. 32).
Protectionism is a major cause of these impediments to implementation, and its prevalence among member states represents an ongoing concern for the regional integration process (Economic Commission for Africa, 2008; Economic Commission for Africa, 2010). Several countries within the regional integration process continue to fear that the process will rob their citizens of employment and decimate its domestic industries (Economic Commission for Africa, 2008). In Nigeria, for example, continued “efforts to protect domestic infant and/or strategic sectors and industries by imposing blanket restrictions on the importation of certain goods adversely affected” the course of trade among the West African member states (Economic Commission for Africa, 2008, p. 32). Lip service for trade liberalization continues; however, the actions of many member countries belie a commitment to trade openness (Economic Commission for Africa, 2008).
Typically, the member countries that resist trade liberalization are among the poorer countries in Africa (Economic Commission for Africa, 2010). Many of these countries consider liberal trade programs impossible to pursue in their specific case. According to the Economic Commission for Africa (2010), the liberalization of trade “may be discouraging countries from pursuing such reforms for fear of potentially negative effects on their economy and on the poor” (p. 45). Short term costs associated with trade liberalization in many cases are immediately off-set as the economy of the country grows and more workers find more jobs. However, in developing countries, the short term costs themselves may be viewed as too high (Economic Commission for Africa, 2010).
From the global perspective, the continent of Africa typically occupies the role of producer and exporter of primary commodities that it then exchanges for manufactured goods (Economic Commission for Africa, 2010). In the global trade arena however, “the relative prices of primary goods have been declining at an average rate of between 0.5 per cent and 1.3 per cent per annum over the past century” (p. 62). Therefore, Africa’s place in global trade has been steadily dropping (Economic Commission for Africa, 2010). As Danso (1995) notes, “the purchasing power of Africa’s exports [fell] by 24 percent since 1985” (p. 36).
In the 1980s, other third world Latin American countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay facing similar situations underwent significant transformation in their trade policies with the goal of improving their economic futures (Aminian, Fung, & Ng, 2008). “The Latin American countries made revisions to the trade agreements of the previous period with the idea of renewing the process of regional integration in the sense of taking into account the need of Latin American economies to compete in the international market and to improve market access for their exports” (Aminian et al., 2008, p. 114). This change resulted in the softening of most of the Latin American trade procedures and to the implementation of “outward-oriented policies” (Aminian et al., 2008, p. 114). The Latin American economies also implemented economic stabilization programs and privatized a number of public companies (Aminian et al., 2008). Significant modernizing and liberalizing of the Africa trade model of this type are necessary to ensure that the continent’s citizens stand a fighting chance to achieve economic prosperity (Danso, 1995; Economic Commission for Africa, 2008; Economic Commission for Africa, 2010; Ott & Patino, 2009).
Critics of regional integration charge that the process itself has been tainted by “elitism in the form of regional integration occurring only at the level of leaders without permeating the consciousness of the people” (Aning, 2007, p. 1). The extreme poverty faced by the majority of Africans, critics argue, has not been factored into the plans for economic rejuvenation and recovery (Aning, 2007). In addition, these critics cite “armed conflict [as] the single most devastating challenge for the continent” (Aning, 2007, p. 1). Attention tends to be focused on the short-term goals of regional integration without attending to the very real security challenges that everyday people in Africa face on a daily basis. These include the “proliferation of small arms and light weapons…food insecurity, environmental degradation, the threat of unexploded ordinance, organized crime, and public health concerns” (Aning, 2007, p. 1). Until these issues are addressed, critics posit, regional integration will continue to occur sporadically in pockets across the continent – specifically, countries that enjoy less direct security threats – while others will stay mired in interminable armed conflict (Aning, 2007).
Regional integration also involves far more than trade liberalization. In Africa, several disparate religions hold sway, including Catholicism and Islam, and members of these two faiths number in the millions. As Gürol (2003) notes, “there are reasons for nations to be alert about the consequences of such attempts that possibly incorporate conflicting issues not economic by all means” (p. 30). Regional integration by definition creates cultural and religious integration, and in the case of Africa, this may simply not be possible to achieve (Gürol, 2003). Concerns and norms pertaining to religion and organized sects that are strongly represented as part of one African country’s culture “could lead to disputes despite all secular policies and inoffensive manners” (Gürol, 2003, p. 31). Economic concerns have a tendency to bleed into cultural concerns, especially for the deeply religious. As Gürol (2003) notes:
Some religions/sects are more tolerant to sexual behavior outside marriage than others or divorce is accepted in some while not in others. Likewise, in the case of strong political and ideological tendencies towards a certain direction, a majority of people in one country could be the uncompromising advocates of one, not much willing to tolerate the followers of the other (p. 30).
This phenomenon, in turn, has the power to destabilize the economy and nullify any trade agreements that may have been achieved.
A recurring theme in the literature examined for this review is the security challenges that trade agreements face during their implementation phase in certain regions of Africa. Aning (2007) pointed to the regions of the Greater Horn of Africa, West Africa, and the Great Lakes Region as the areas most affected by security challenges to ongoing regional integration efforts. As of 2007, a number of violent unresolved conflicts were active “in a number of African countries, including The Sudan…Darfur and Southern Sudan, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia-Eritrea, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Comoros, and the Central African Republic” (Mkwezalamba & Chinyama, 2007, p. 2).
The main security threats to trade agreement implementation faced by Africa include local economic sets of connections and underground trade networks that feed security challenges through the “exploitation and sale of natural resources…[including] diamonds, timber, cocoa, cotton, and coffee” (Aning, 2007, p. 2). Such commodities are then transported, sold and made possible by insufficient or non-existent regulatory frameworks within the country (Aning, 2007). Military networks within the affected region also heighten security concerns, particularly when they “supply weapons to combatants and the provision of training facilities to those who are willing to destabilize the region” (Aning, 2007, p. 2). Security is also hampered by complicity between political groups, smugglers, and families who operate illegal trade (Aning, 2007; Banque Africaine De Developpement Fonds Africain De Developpement, 2009). As Aning (2007) explains, “political and economic networks provide support mechanisms and facilitate economic predation, and…networks that comprise illicit smuggling activities and cross-border family ties…facilitate trade in valuable goods” (p. 2). Security challenges therefore contribute to the competitive nature of many of the CEMAC actor states, particularly when the trade is illegal (Aning, 2007).
The Case Study of Cameroon
Cockburn and Njikam (2011) conducted a study to investigate the impact of “Cameroon’s sweeping trade reforms in the late 1980s and early 1990s on the growth of firm-level productivity in the manufacturing sector” and found that trade liberalization has a negative impact on growth in certain industries and stimulates productivity growth in other (p. 279). The study authors utilized a two-step model to analyze the effects. In the first phase, the study authors estimated the “production function…for the pooled sample of pre-and post-liberalization periods” (Cockburn and Njikam, 2011, p. 279). Cockburn and Njikam (2011) also analyzed separate data that represented the “pre-liberalization period…1988-1995…and the post-liberalization period…1995-2002…using the LP approach” (Cockburn and Njikam, 2011, p. 280). From this data, the researchers were able to derive firm productivity indexes (Cockburn and Njikam, 2011).
In phase two of the study, the researchers employed the “fixed effects approach to test for the effects of trade liberalization on firm productivity growth rates” (Cockburn and Njikam, 2011, p. 280). The productivity growth equation was initially estimated on the “pooled sample of pre-and post-reform periods” (Cockburn and Njikam, 2011, p. 280). The study authors then used the firm productivity indices recovered from the inference of the production function using “pooled pre-and post-reform sample periods…then on each sub-period separately…using the firm productivity measures retrieved from the estimation of the production function on each sub-period sample separately” (Cockburn and Njikam, 2011, p. 280). Others controls included “business environment, industry, firm characteristics [and] the early 1990s political instability in Cameroon” (Cockburn and Njikam, 2011, p. 280). The results of the study demonstrated the following:
A substantial difference between the estimated OLS, fixed effects, and LP production function coefficients, implying a successful elimination of simultaneity and selection bias. Concerning the LP results, and for both estimations employing the pooled sample and each sub-period sample, materials inputs have the largest output elasticity (Cockburn and Njikam, 2011, p. 282).
According to Cockburn and Njikam (2011), the pre-liberalization period was not successful for the Cameroon manufacturing sector – measuring productivity growth – since productivity dropped (p. 282). Two sectors saw productivity decline, while three other manufacturing sectors demonstrated a rise in productivity (Cockburn and Njikam, 2011, p. 282). As a whole, the manufacturing sector in Cameroon saw productivity gains after trade liberalization; however, this was by no means uniform across sectors. As the study authors Cockburn and Njikam (2011) explain:
The assessment of the role of specific trade-related variables in influencing firm productivity growth rates reveals three robust findings. First, the exit of less productive firms is conducive to productivity improvement. Second, there are significant firm productivity gains from outward-orientation. Finally, increases in effective protection negatively affect productivity in the Cameroonian manufacturing sector, although this second impact is much smaller than that of increasing outward-orientation (p. 280).
This study’s results demonstrated “strong policy implications for efforts to increase manufacturing productivity in Cameroon” (Cockburn and Njikam, 2011, p. 283). Policies targeted toward decreasing the “effective protection of the manufacturing sector” appear to boost productivity growth, according to these findings (Cockburn and Njikam, 2011, p. 283). In addition, measures to “foster outward-orientation of different industries are also conducive to an improvement in firm-level productivity growth rates” (Cockburn and Njikam, 2011, p. 283).
The researchers concluded that the results encourage Cameroon and other African nations to pursue a course of trade liberalization (Cockburn and Njikam, 2011, p. 283). However, the study authors caution that “there remains considerable scope for refining and deepening the research agenda” (Cockburn and Njikam, 2011, p. 283). A number of studies have posited that “trade liberalization alone in poor economies is not sufficient to achieve the development goals because of the structure of these economies and the weaknesses in their infrastructure and institutions” (Cockburn and Njikam, 2011, p. 283). In addition, supply restrictions such as “poor infrastructure, poor institutions [and ] bad governance in the developing counties…and Sub-Saharan African countries…usually face matter in reaping the trade liberalization opportunities” (Cockburn, & Njikam, 2011, p. 279).
Ondoa and Tabi (2011) conducted a study… analyse the relationship between economic growth, inflation and money in circulation using a VAR model for the period 1960-2007 In Cameroon, the overall objective of the Structural Adjustment Program of the phases I and II was to establish internal and external equilibrium in view of realizing a durable and equitably distributed growth. Thus, the main objectives was (i) to reestablish an equilibrium to major macroeconomic components notably a mean growth rate of 5% to a low inflation rate of 2% per year and a stabilization of external accounts with a deficit of the current account lower than 2.5% of the GDP, (ii) to fight against poverty and (iii) to promote good governance (BAD, 2002; 2007). Although, the objective on inflation seems to be attained since there was a relatively better mastery of prices during the last decade with the rate of inflation around the neighbourhood of 1.9% in spite of a peak of 5.1% in 2006. This peak was due to the evolution of the prices of food products as well as those of transport services due to consecutive increase in petroleum products (MINEP, 2009).
Inflation was however estimated at 4.4% in 2009 against 5.3% in 2008. This relatively low inflation rate is as a result of the implementation of the Central Bank policy. Indeed, the objective of the monetary policy of the CEMAC zone is to stabilize the common money used within the zone. In the CEMAC zone and in an operational manner, money stability signify that (a)an external coverage rate of money greater than 20%; (b) low inflation which does not divert fundamentally from that of the Euro zone in order to maintain competition. Briefly, the Central Bank upholds clean and solid growth which does not consider important money disequilibrium (Mamalepot, 2004). In spite of the relatively low rate of inflation (less than 4% per year), the rate of economic growth is fragile in Cameroon. Indeed, during the period of the implementation of the poverty reduction strategy paper (DSRP), i.e. from the years 2003 to 2007, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the Cameroonian economy had a mean real growth rate of 3.32%. This growth rate is below the growth rate observed for the years 2000 to 2002 during which Cameroon was not implementing any formal programme for fighting poverty (MINEP, 2009). This study attempts to examine the effect of inflation and money growth on the rate of economic growth in Cameroon. To do this, the work is organized as follows: section two presents the literature; sections three and four develop respectively the methodology and the results of the study.
The objective of the article was to analyze the link between economic growth, inflation and money in circulation. A VAR model was constructed for data from Cameroon for the years 1960-2007 for the analysis. The results show that money in circulation causes growth and growth causes inflation. However, it was realised that an increase in money in circulation does not necessarily induce an increase in the general price level. Thus, it can be affirmed that monetary programming policy and most especially problems related to information asymmetry between banks and promoters of projects hinder the growth rate from reaching its optimal level in Cameroon (Ondoa and Tabi (2011, p. 45).
Cyrille (2010) conducted a study to “investigate on the effectiveness of the liquidity effect of monetary policy actions in the CEMAC region. As the conventional wisdom states, a cornerstone for the central bank to stimulate the economy is to lower interest rates by increasing the supply of narrow money. To circumvent some of the difficulties inherent to the verification of this assumption, we adopt in this study, a methodology advocated by Christiano and Eichenbaum(1991) which seems appropriate in the special case of the CEMAC countries. The results we obtain indicate that the conventional wisdom holds both on individual level and on a regional basis when the monetary aggregate measures the stance of monetary policy. Moreover, an unanticipated credit expansion causes the interest rate to decline in most of the CEMAC countries. However, both the liquidity effect and the loanable effect are offset most of the time by a price puzzle or an output puzzle. In some countries, there is also an evidence of a liquidity puzzle. On the other hand, identification assumptions based on the interest rate are unsuitable for an appropriate assessment of the liquidity effect in the region.
Climate change affects millions of people in Africa and has proven to be one of the main impetuses for consistent human migration across borders (African Development Bank, 2011; African Development Bank Group, 2011). The countries with the greatest climatic instability include Botswana, Zambia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi (African Development Bank, 2011; African Development Bank Group, 2011). Over the past few decades, an increase in climatic changeability has resulted in an increased occurrence of storms, flooding, and severe water shortages, all of which destroy the already weak infrastructure, make food shortages direr, and interfere or completely derail the development projects underway in the region (African Development Bank, 2011; African Development Bank Group, 2011). As agriculture moves into marginal lands, more trees have been cut down, which in turn has triggered problems within the water table (African Development Bank, 2011; African Development Bank Group, 2011).
In addition, these climatic changes have a major impact on “loss of biodiversity, desertification, erratic rainfall, higher temperatures and water scarcity” (African Development Bank Group, 2011, p. 13; Cornelissen, 2009). Populations that live in these affected regions tend to be adversely affected and often migrate to different regions in the search for more secure agricultural infrastructure and therefore less direct threats to their livelihoods (African Development Bank, 2011; African Development Bank Group, 2011). As the African Development Bank Group (2011) notes, “marginal and low productivity lands tend to be occupied by the poorest farmers who typically rely exclusively on subsistence agriculture and may find too few alternatives to cope with the additional stress from climate change, generating very high social costs” (p. 13).
Estimates indicate that “20 million African men and women are migrants outside their native countries” (International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, 2004, p. 2). Furthermore, analysts note that by the year 2015, “one in ten Africans may be living and working outside their countries of origin” (International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, 2004, p. 2). A large number of African citizens have left the continent and migrated elsewhere looking for work; a number land in Western Europe, while others end up in North America and the Middle East (International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, 2004, p. 2), The migration of African citizens to other countries creates brain drain, especially in the professional sectors such as “teaching and medical sectors” (International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, 2004, p. 2). In addition, the flood of citizens leaving the continent creates “significant detrimental impact on development in Africa, [as] the region’s own labour markets are disorganized” (International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, 2004, p. 2). Migration is a major problem for many countries in Africa. It places “migrant workers in difficult circumstances and denies African countries proper control over their human resources” (International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, 2004, p. 2).
In addition, the vast majority of migrant workers remain in low wage industries in their host countries such as “agriculture and domestic service, where they have little or no access to job benefits or quality education and training, healthcare and housing, for them and their families” (International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, 2004, p. 3; Nkowani, 2009). Discrimination is a common problem for African migrant workers. According to the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (2004), inequitable treatment commonly experienced by migrant workers from Africa include the following:
Exploitation with serious pecuniary and other consequences; employers dishonouring mutually agreed contracts; prohibition from participation in trade unions; confiscation of passports, constraining their movement and any transactions; deduction of wages without consent; abusive, unsafe and unhealthy working conditions; non-payment or deferred payment of salary; denial of social security and health protection; and at worst, physical and psychological violence (p. 2).
Implementation and Enforcement of International Standards
International human rights protocols and International Labour Standards are designed to apply protective standards that all migrant workers can rely on (International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, 2004, p. 4). Some of these protocols include the United Nations Human Rights Conventions and the International Labour Organization’s Core Labour Standards (International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, 2004, p. 4). While these standards are typically ratified in the region in question, they remain “poorly implemented” (International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, 2004, p. 4). According to the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (2004), the “rate of ratification in Africa of the specific international standards on migrant workers…is…unsatisfactory. Only 23
African countries have ratified at least one of these instruments” (p. 4). Standards of labor and labor protocols established by various Regional Economic Communities on the continent “call for freer circulation of labour and certain protections for migrant nationals of member States” (International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, 2004, p. 4). However, these standards have not yet been properly implemented, “whether in AMU, CEMAC, COMESA, EAC, ECOWAS or SADC” (International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, 2004, p. 4)
Deacon, De Lombaerde, Macovei and Schröder (2011) conducted a study to investigate global labor developments in the context of migrant workers in African and to determine what steps were being taken to protect these workers in their host countries. This study reviewed several examples of improvements that had occurred at the “supra-national [level] of regional social and labour policies” (p. 334). The study authors set out to gauge to what extent migrant workers are being considered in labour laws that apply internationally, such as in the case of the International Labour Organization (Deacon et al., 2011). The study authors found that “existing regional associations of governments and regional organizations are actually developing effective regional labour policies in different sub-regions of Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia” with the intention of protecting migrant workers in their host countries (p. 335). In particular, the study authors found that while “regional socio-economic policies are gaining importance in different world regions…speeds are varied and generally low [and] it is difficult…to find strong correlations with indicators of regional interdependence such as trade or migration” (p. 335).
In 2007, according to Deacon et al. (2011), the South African Development Community and the International Labour Organization signed an accord designed to provide the South African Development Community with a senior programme manager whose “function it is to coordinate labour and employment programmes within the SADC secretariat” (p. 335). This role, the study found, would be instrumental in helping the South African Development Community undertake the following key activities designed to address the problem of migration flows out of the country and migrant worker abuse in host countries:
Development of monitoring and evaluation mechanisms/instruments of the SADC standards on employment and labour; setting up of a regional labour market information system; development of monitoring and evaluation mechanisms in the implementation of the Declaration and Plan of Action for Promotion of Employment and Poverty Alleviation in Africa and of the SADC Policies, Priorities and Strategies on Employment and Labour; and capacity building to enhance gender mainstreaming in employment policies and promotion of women empowerment in the sub-region (p. 336).
According to Deacon et al. (2011), a task force comprised of the ministers of labour from South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Lesotho that took place in March of 2008 directly addressed the issues of “social protection and employment and labour” for migrant laborers from these countries (p. 336). However, the study authors noted that in spite of this positive sign, “no dialogue is currently taking place between the SADC Department for Trade and Investment and the Labour Directorate” (p. 336).
The study raised some key issues about the lack of integration and communication that occurs between organizations charged with the regulatory function of labor across national and international borders. For example, the study authors noted the lack of cohesion between labor bodies:
The task force on regional economic integration does not meet with the task force on labour issues. Furthermore, the Trade meetings between SADC and the EU on the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) do not involve the Labour Ministers (p. 336).
African Union Labor Affairs
In 2008, the African Union’s commissioner for labour and social affairs prepared a draft to be offered at the inaugural meeting of the Ministers of Social Development that took place in Namibia. As Deacon et al. (2011) noted:
The process leading to the draft to be tabled at the meeting was interesting because of the tension which arose between a wish on the part of the Commissioner to draft an African social policy as distinct from an ILO, UNICEF or an EU social policy on the one hand and the actual involvement of some of these Northern based players in the drafting process on the other (p. 336).
The report covering the period May 2008 through June 2009 of the African Union was noteworthy, Deacon et al. (2011) point out, because it set about “addressing the issues of employment and labour in the region. [However] although these achievements are worth mentioning, there are no clear specifications of the mechanisms under which these declarations are implemented” (p. 336).
The Southern African Trade Union Co-ordination Council, a trade union organization comprised of government, business, and trade union leaders and representative in the region, included a social charter to address issues of key relevance to migrant workers in the region. According to Deacon et al. (2011), this new charter addressed some pressing concerns for the migration flows of workers between countries, and set out methods by which to: “contribute to productive employment, facilitate labour mobility, and ensure regional cooperation in collection of labour market data” (p. 337). Labor data for migrant workers flowing between countries is especially sparse and difficult to come by, and as the researchers point out in this study, the labor bodies involved do not have the mandates to approve or enforce labor laws. As Deacon et al. (2011) explain:
Although SATUCC is considered as the strongest regional voice calling for regional cooperation, its capability to establish a tri-partite role in SADC is limited. This limitation is due to the fact that even if SADC is structured as a supra-national body, it does not have binding law-making powers and controlling judicial institution (p. 336).
Despite these limitations, as Deacon et al. (2011) note, a significant achievement of SATUCC is “the development of a Social Charter of Fundamental Rights of Workers in Southern Africa, which is ratified by nearly all SADC countries” (p. 336).
How these rights will be enforced remains to be seen. In East Africa, a regional organisation known as the East African Trade Union Council (EATUC) oversees labor issues including “the ratification of international labour standards by the member states and the
harmonization of labour law” (Deacon et al., 2011, p.338). The East African Trade Union Council is one of many trade union organizations in the region most affected by migration flows and migrant worker issues. The Economic Community of West African States represents another trade union organization that “encourages the harmonization of labour laws and social security legislation” (Deacon et al., 2011, p.338). Member states include Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Nigeria, and Togo (Deacon et al., 2011). As Deacon et al., (2011), one of the most important results of the meetings that have occurred between regional labor organizations is the flow of dialogue and the understanding that migrant labor problems affect all of these countries equally. The countries represented agreed to:
A comprehensive set of recommendations for an ECOWAS Labour Policy in line with ILO policy and based on consultations with ILO colleagues in Geneva. It also calls for a Regional Social Fund. It makes a strong case that the Organisation pour l’Harmonisation en Afrique du Droit des Affaires (OHADA) draft labour law might be a possible model for parts of an ECOWAS labour policy (p. 336).
In 2005, the country of Ghana hosted the second annual meeting of between the Civil Society Organizations, the Economic Community of West African States, and the West African Civil Society Forum (Deacon et al., 2011). However, a number of problems arose (Deacon et al., 2011). While the West African Civil Society Forum was “designed to have the role of an advisory body and partner” of the West African Civil Society Forum, the main problems of migrant labor – those that pertained the employment issues and standards of labor, were not covered by the West African Civil Society Forum due to financial limitations (Deacon et al., 2011, p. 337).
Instead, the West African Civil Society Forum’s agenda, “as of 2006 onwards is restricted to…Democracy and Good Governance, and Peace and Security (Deacon et al., 2011, p. 337). The direct mandate for labor issues is no longer the organization’s purview (Deacon et al., 2011). The council of ministers that belong to CEMAC took on a set of regulations in 2006 that outlined the “creation, composition and functioning of the sub-regional Tripartite Social Dialogue Committee” (Deacon et al., 2011, p. 337). The main components of the CEMAC tripartite Committee include “the reinforcement of social dialogue within CEMAC, free movement of workers and fundamental principles and rights at work” (Deacon et al., 2011, p. 337). The agreement further specifies that “the main mission of the Committee is to contribute to the consolidation of the process of social negotiation with a view to preventing and managing social conflicts” (Deacon et al., 2011, p. 337). This CEMAC committee therefore, which is composed of the labor ministries of all of the CEMAC member states and meets once a year, has the power to implement real and last change for migrant workers in Africa and its citizens who travel beyond its borders looking for work.
The study author found in the course of conducting this literature review, the main discoveries that the scholarly literature revealed on this topic is the fortitude demonstrated by the CEMAC member nations in their commitment to the implementation of regional integration. Many problems and challenges persist, as does slow growth in the economy and in the rate of foreign direct investment, and many of these problems occur at the human level, as exemplified by corruption issues even at the highest levels of government. However, much has been accomplished, and while there is still intense competition between the member states for resources, there are also clear examples in which the member states have initiated partnerships designed to further the goal of economic improvement for Africa and its citizens.
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