Francophone Central Africa is focused on the French-speaking countries of Central Africa, stretching from Chad in the north to Republic of Congo in the south. The region is part of the broader CFA Franc Zone, which is split between the Union économique et monétaire ouest-africaine (UEMOA), focused on the French-speaking countries of West Africa, and the Communauté économique et monétaire d’Afrique Centrale (CEMAC), focused on the French-speaking countries of Central Africa
CEMAC is made up of six countries, dominated by Cameroon and Gabon on the coast, and including Republic of Congo, Chad and the CAR. CEMAC also has a non-Francophone member, Equatorial Guinea, a former Spanish colony, whose membership makes CEMAC overwhelmingly an oil exporting block. The tiny Portuguese-speaking country of São Tomé & Príncipe is not part of CEMAC, but is included in this section as part of the broader region.
Like its sister region, UEMOA, CEMAC is relatively well integrated, held together by the shared currency (the CFA Franc), the common legal system (OHADA) and the French language, and underpinned by the stability provided by the currency peg to the euro. The region is less active in issuing bonds compared to UEMOA, although all of its economies benefit from the currency peg, which helps to anchor inflation.
CEMAC’s economic activity is heavily dominated by hydrocarbons, with five of its six members relying on oil and gas for the majority of their export revenues. Although this has created enclave industries, it has also driven regional integration through the Chad-Cameroon oil pipeline, through which Chad exports most of its crude oil to world markets.
Of the six economies, Cameroon is the most diverse, reflecting both its oil output and its cash crop production, primarily of cocoa, wood, cotton and natural rubber (NR). Cameroon also acts as a transit hub for goods flowing into Central Africa, and for exports of Chadian crude oil. The other four large economies (excluding the tiny CAR) are primarily oil producers, which ensures CEMAC’s heavy dependence on global oil demand and vulnerability to price swings. Republic of Congo also acts as a hub for shipping used for oil exploration and drilling in the Gulf of Guinea, while Gabon is an important exporter of manganese ore.