The Central African Republic, a landlocked country with a population of close to 4.9 million, embarked on a long recovery process, following a major security crisis in 2013 that unraveled its social fabric and displaced over 25% of its population.
Elections in 2016 brought an end to three years of political transition and turmoil.
Since 2016, the Central African Republic has been governed by President Faustin-Archange Touadéra and Prime Minister Simplice Sarandji. The next presidential elections are scheduled to be held between December 2020 and March 2021.
On February 6, 2019, the Government of the Central African Republic signed an African Union-mediated peace agreement with 14 armed groups. This agreement has been endorsed by the international community. The African Union and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) serve as guarantors of the agreement, while the UN peacekeeping force (MINUSCA) plays a critical support role in the background.
- Economic growth in the Central African Republic slowed to 3.7% in 2018, as renewed insecurity inhibited economic activity by disrupting agricultural, forestry and mining production, and delaying investment projects. However, since 2015, economic growth in the country has outpaced the CEMAC average and is projected to reach 4.8% in 2019.
- The Central African Republic would benefit from maintaining its fiscal discipline, because it remains at high risk of debt distress. The government’s efforts continue to yield positive outcomes, with a debt-to-GDP ratio that declined to 49%. Debt indicators are expected to steadily improve over the medium term. The overall deficit is estimated to rise to 2.7% of GDP in 2019, up from 1.6% in 2017. At 9% of GDP in 2018, the Central African Republic still has one of the lowest domestic revenue-to-GDP ratios in Sub-Saharan Africa. Public spending increased to 16.3% of GDP in 2018, in tandem with a rise in expenditure on goods and services. Grants remain high at 7.8% of GDP in 2018 and are projected to reach 11% in 2019, thanks to support from the development partners for the peace agreement.
- If the security situation does not deteriorate, the medium-term outlook for the country is positive. The expected steady improvement in security, the gradual re-establishment of public services in the provinces, the uptick in public and private investments, and reform implementation are projected to push growth to 4.8% in 2019.
Social Context and Development Challenges
- Poverty remains high and projections suggest that roughly 71% of the population was living below the international poverty line ($1.90 per day, in terms of PPP) in 2018.
- Approximately 643,000 people remain internally displaced while 575,000 Central African refugees sought shelter in neighboring countries. It is expected that in 2019, 2.9 million Central Africans—more than half of the country’s population—will need humanitarian assistance, with 1.6 million people in acute need. In order to meet humanitarian needs, on January 7, 2019 the Government of the Central African Republic and the Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs (OCHA) officially launched the $430.7 million Humanitarian Response Plan for the year.
- The Central African Republic remains one of the poorest countries in the world and is grappling with numerous human capital challenges. It ranks near the very bottom of the UN Human Development Index (188 out of 189 countries in December 2018), which could present devastating consequences for its future generation. While the most recent estimates show that more than 71% of the population is poor, there have been improvements in the provision of key public services in the country’s southwestern region.
- Maternal mortality is among the world’s highest (882 per 100,000 live births), while the extremely high under-five child mortality rate (179 per 1,000) highlights the severity of the health situation.
- The Central African Republic has some of the lowest education and gender equality indicators in the world. The poor quality of primary education, the lack of secondary school education for girls, and violence against women and girls, with 11,000 reported incidents each year (2016), 74% of which involve children, remain pressing challenges for the country.
- Average life expectancy is 53 years. High levels of malnutrition exist, with 41% of the population suffering from chronic malnutrition (stunting). The fertility rate is high at 6.2 children per woman.
Last Updated: Nov 25, 2019