Overview

Country Overview

The Central African Republic (CAR), a landlocked country with a population of 4.7 million is embarking on a long path to recovery. Its long history is marred by political instability and, in 2013, another major security and humanitarian crisis erupted, unraveling the country’s social fabric and displacing over 25% of its population. Recent presidential and legislative elections have, however, brought three years of political transition and turmoil to an end.

Political Context

For the first time in its history, the CAR has a democratically-elected president and parliament. On 2 March 2016, its Constitutional Court declared Faustin Archange Touadera the new president-elect. The one time prime minister, who served under the ousted President François Bozizé, garnered 63% of the votes cast in the February 14 runoff, beating rival Anicet Georges Dologuele who received 37%. This election concluded the mandate of Catherine Samba-Panza, who had led the transitional government since 20 January 2014 with a mission to organize elections in which she would not run for office. The second round of legislative elections also took place in February: Abdoul Karim Meckassoua, a prominent politician from the country’s Muslim minority, was elected as head of the National Assembly. 

President François Bozizé, who came to power through a coup in 2003, was overthrown in March 2013 by the Séléka rebel movement, which proclamed its leader Michel Djotodia, head of the country.  Ensuing conflict took on a sectarian dimension as Djotodia failed to contain the mainly Muslim rebels’ onslaught against Christians and retaliation by the Christian Anti-Balaka. The conflict resulted in numerous civilian deaths. As a result, Djotodia was forced to step aside less than a year later. Sectarian tensions between Muslims and Christians have continued since, but the signing of a ceasefire agreement between armed groups in July 2014, and the organization of the Bangui Forum in May 2015, marked the end of violent conflict. 

The French Sangaris force and the UN played a major role in seeking to restore peace in the CAR.

Social Context

The sectarian violence uprooted nearly 1.2 million people. After four years, 384,000 people are still displaced and more than 467,000 people are still refugees in Cameroon, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Republic of Congo. More than half of the country's population, the equivalent of about 2.3 million people, are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, while more than 76%of the population continues to live in extreme poverty.  At the national level, only 55%of health facilities are functional; only 25%of health facilities have an energy source, while only 2% have a potable water source.

Economic Overview

Economic recovery in the CAR is proceeding slower than expected. Real GDP growth in 2016 was estimated at 4.55, down half a percentage point from the previous estimate. This is mainly the result of recent security incidents and related disruptions of economic activity, notably in the transport sector, with delayed public investment compounding downward pressure. On the expenditure side, private consumption continues to be the main contributor to GDP, while gross fixed capital formation remains hampered by a weak investment climate and limited public investment.

After a weak 2015, export growth appears to be more pronounced in 2016 on the back of solid production increases of key export goods such as gold, diamonds, wood, coffee and cotton. On the supply side, the primary sector has benefitted from stronger performance in the forest, coffee, and cotton subsectors, while the secondary sector continues to struggle. Services, particularly transport, have been affected by bouts of insecurity but have started to recover.

Medium Term Outlook

The successful presidential election is an important step toward national reconstruction. Refugees and the internally displaced are expected to return to their land as security improves. Real GDP growth is projected to gradually accelerate to 4.75% in 2017 and 5%  in 2018, conditional on security, the implementation of the government development plan, and further strengthening in primary sectors and their related export performance. Economic growth will also be driven by a rise in import and export activities, assuming continued UN peace-keeping efforts for security and escort of merchandise along the corridor.

Last Updated: Apr 20, 2017

World Bank Group Engagement in the Central African Republic

On 30 July 2015, the Bank’s Executive Directors endorsed the Country Engagement Note (CEN) for FY16–17. This provided the strategic framework for the program delivered at end of FY15, $10 million in additional financing to the Emergency Public Services Response project, and a $12 million to the Health Sector Support project, as well as the $20 million countrywide labor-intensive public works “Londo” project, which was approved in July 2015. A Systematic Country Diagnostic (SCD) will be prepared during early FY18 to allow for the preparation and delivery of the Country Partnership Framework (CPF) mid-FY18.

To support its post-crisis re-engagement, the Bank has prepared a series of thematic and sectoral policy notes. These, and the findings of a Fragility Assessment, have informed the preparation of a $250 million Turn-Around program. The program includes 11 projects, which combine stabilization efforts alongside development. A public financial management (PFM) and strategic sectors development policy operations (DPO) and associated TA, and the Statistics for Decision Making project, will help consolidate capacity and improve resource allocation. Support to the reintegration of former combatants (through DDRR) and displaced populations will help reduce tensions among communities and promote long-term stability and reconciliation. Improved service delivery in the water, energy, social sectors and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) will help rebuild trust between citizens and the state. Support to the agricultural, mining, and forestry sectors, and reopening access to major production basins, meanwhile, will improve economic inclusion and recovery.

In addition, the WB has co-led, alongside the UN and the EU, a Recovery and Peacebuilding Assessment (RPBA)—to define the country’s priorities over the short and medium term—and the preparation of a successful  International Donor Conference for CAR.

The Brussels Donor conference, which took place in November 2016, resulted in a $2.2 billion pledge for the CAR, including $2 billion for reconstruction and $0.2 billion for humanitarian assistance. The pledges have exceeded the $1.6 billion expected for the next 3 years. The bulk of the financing will come from IFIs, such as the WB, AfDB, Arab funds, IMF, and the EU—both EDF and European countries, among which France stands out. 

Last Updated: Apr 20, 2017

The LONDO project (or ‘Stand-Up’ in Sango, the official language in CAR)

The LONDO project  provides temporary employment to vulnerable people throughout the country. The first two phases of the pilot have been successfully completed:

  • 17, 250 beneficiaries (34% women) were recruited through 65 public lotteries in 34 sub-prefectures
  • 1, 000 kilometers of roads were maintained through 607 034 days of public works carried out in December 2016
  • 12 runways and access to provincial aerodromes have been rehabilitated in the areas where it operates.

Emergency Public Services Response project

The objective of the Emergency Public Services Response Project is to re-establish an operational government payroll and related financial management systems. The first component, payment of current salaries was to provide support to the government to pay civil service salaries in civilian sectors (excluding the security forces and police). So far, the project has benefited over 17,000 civil servants and the time lapse between planned pay day and actual pay day has decreased from 30 hours to 13. The targeted objective is 10 hours. The percentage of staff from the customs directorate who have resumed work has increased from 10% to 86% in 2015 alone. The percentage of teachers and health workers who have resumed work in the districts where security has improved has increased from 0% to 89%.

Emergency Power Response Project

The Emergency Power Response Project is working to partially restore a reliable electricity supply to customers in Bangui, including essential service providers such as the national water company and hospitals. In particular, the project is rehabilitating the Boali 1 and 2 hydropower facilities, thereby increasing reliable power supply. Load shedding has been eliminated for hospitals and water facilities in Bangui; 150 km of distribution lines have been constructed or rehabilitated, and annual electricity losses have been reduced by 9%.

Health System Support Project

The Health System Support Project aims to increase utilization and improve the quality of maternal and child health services in targeted rural areas. To date, it has provided support to over 1.1 million people, half of which are female, and treated 3.500 women victims of violence. More than 1 million were given access to a basic health, nutrition or reproductive health package.

The Emergency Urban Infrastructure Rehabilitation and Maintenance Project

The Emergency Urban Infrastructure Rehabilitation and Maintenance Project (closed in September 2016) helped increase access to infrastructure and urban services for the population of the most deprived districts of Bangui. Close to 85,000 people have benefited from improved drainage, and over 37,000 from access to improved water sources.

Last Updated: Apr 20, 2017

In a climate of instability where significant security risks remain, the World Bank Group is working closely with the United Nations peacekeeping mission MINUSCA (UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the CAR), the African Union, the European Union, France, and the U.S Collaboration has been demonstrated through the undertaking of the RPBA and a Fragility Assessment, led by the WB, with the United Nations, the Department for International Development (DFID), and Agence Française de Développement (AFD), in consultation with CAR Authorities. The preparation of new projects is closely coordinated with other development partners.

Last Updated: Apr 20, 2017


LENDING

Central African Republic: Commitments by Fiscal Year (in millions of dollars)*

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments