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Central Africa Regional Overview
The Central Africa region recorded real GDP growth of 0.8 percent in 2016, lower than the previous year. Growth in Equatorial Guinea improved but remained negative. Several commodity exporters suffered from adverse terms of trade in 2016. Others (such as Cameroon) proved rather resilient, and the Central African Republic and São Tomé and Príncipe improved their economic performance.
The Central Africa portfolio at end-2016 comprised 138 projects with a net commitment value of UA 2,887.2 million*. Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo, together, account for two-thirds of the region’s portfolio, with the remaining five countries taking in less than 10 percent each. Multinational projects represent 13.1 percent of the active portfolio, which is dominated by operations in the transport sector (32 percent).
The Bank’s Ongoing Portfolio in Central Africa
In 2016, Bank Group resources to the region totaled UA 609.7 million, with an additional UA 192.71 million of co-financing mobilized. The largest project financed in 2016 was Phase II of Cameroon’s national program to support the transport sector, for a total of UA 228.1 million—36.4 percent of funding mobilized over the year. Other approvals were for projects contributing to the Bank Group’s High 5s priority to Feed Africa, such as developing agricultural value chains in Cameroon and Gabon, and supporting youth entrepreneurship in agriculture and agribusiness in the Democratic Republic of Congo. A Bank-financed ICT operation in the Republic of Congo will help break the digital isolation of the country, especially its rural areas, linking it to Cameroon and the Central African Republic. The project is expected to reduce international bandwidth costs by more than 60 percent; it will significantly improve internal and external communication, boost regional integration, and help diversify the Republic of Congo’s economy.
Several operations supported good governance, including policy and institutional reforms and support to government budgets. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, reforms were part of a larger project worth UA 96.1 million, financed by a mix of Bank and Fund resources, which aimed at improving efficiency in the power sector. Cameroon received UA 12.1 million to support public sector reforms and improve budget efficiency.