BANGUI, May 11, 2022 – A new World Bank report underscores the need to accelerate the reforms required to improve the living conditions of Central Africans in a context where the country faces overlapping crises. According to the authors, the Central African Republic (CAR) is at a crossroads. Despite its immense potential, the country remains one of the poorest in the world due to cycles of political instability and heavy reliance on natural resources.
The Economic Memorandum points out that over the past few decades the reforms implemented have not produced sustained growth for CAR, owing to a succession of coups d’état and power struggles between elites. The analysis shows that governance challenges have led to wealth capture and that natural resources have not been managed in a way that has benefited the entire population.
Buoyed by the peaceful transition of power in 2015, the authorities implemented several reform programs that helped restore macroeconomic stability and put the economy on a path to recovery between 2015 and 2019. However, CAR’s performance has lagged behind that of similar countries that have also experienced civil wars, and has also been threatened by overlapping crises since 2020. The country’s extreme poverty rate decreased by 9.4 percentage points between 1983 and 2019, but this reduction remains well below the average of 16 percentage points in Sub-Saharan Africa as a whole.
“This Memorandum is intended to support policy makers and development partners in their efforts to help CAR escape fragility and improve the living conditions of Central Africans,” says Wilfried A. Kouamé. “CAR has the capacity to accelerate its economic performance, halve extreme poverty, and achieve middle-income status by 2050.”
The study examines socioeconomic developments since the country’s independence and provides input to the CAR-2050 Plan through projections to 2050. It also identifies areas of intervention that are likely to generate growth commensurate with the country’s potential.
“We believe that for CAR to realize its enormous potential, it must address the root causes of fragility by creating jobs, improving the management of its natural resources, and establishing a social contract. The country should prioritize reforms that will strengthen human capital, private-sector investment, and productivity to ensure long-term growth,” says Han Fraeters, World Bank Country Manager for the Central African Republic. “CAR must also promote trade and improve governance by reducing corruption and strengthening key institutions.”