The speech of President Paul BIYA, current President of the Conference of Heads of State, to mark the 12th edition of CEMAC Day on 16 March 2021, was read by Mr Luc Ayang, President of Cameroon’s Economic and Social Council.

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“Today 16 March 2021, the Central African Economic and Monetary Community is commemorating the 12th edition of CEMAC Day.

This event reflects the constant quest for a community ideal of living together. It also illustrates the feeling of belonging to the same geographical area with a common socio-economic destiny.

This year, however, our subregion, like the rest of the world, is experiencing a health crisis with unprecedented economic and social consequences. Indeed, since the outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, our habits have undergone profound changes and efforts made by States to revive the economy have been severely put to test.

Given the current context, I urge all our fellow citizens to commemorate this day in strict compliance with the protective measures required to contain the spread of the pandemic.

Before I continue, I would like to express my deep sorrow and compassion, as well as the solidarity of the entire Community with the brotherly people of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea following the unfortunate incidents that occurred in Bata on 7 March 2021.

  • Your Excellencies Heads of CEMAC Member States, Dear Brothers,
  • Peoples of Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Chad,

Our countries have resisted the various external shocks by drawing from the virtues of solidarity and regional integration. The current health, security, economic and social challenges cannot call our Community’s options into question. This explains the theme chosen for this edition of CEMAC Day, namely: “Preserving and Promoting the Achievements of Subregional Integration in the Face of Security and Health Challenges.

This topical theme is irrefutably relevant to our subregion in light of the numerous threats looming over the integration of our States.

On the security front, instability in the Central African Republic is seriously disrupting trade between our countries. Furthermore, the combined efforts of our countries’ defence forces have largely contained the terrorist actions of BOKO HARAM in the Lake Chad area. Similarly, appropriate solutions are being sought to the socio-political crisis in the North-West and South-West regions of Cameroon, thus heralding a gradual return to peace and social cohesion.

Regarding health, our governments’ pandemic response strategy should be pursued resolutely. The resurgence of COVID-19 calls for increased vigilance and caution, as well as greater mobilization. 

We all should scrupulously comply with protective measures.

Besides these measures, vaccination is undoubtedly the most effective way to achieve collective immunity and check the spread of the pandemic for good. From this viewpoint, I think that it is necessary for our countries to take full advantage of the COVAC mechanism in order to ensure the vaccination of the greatest number of people.

  • Your Excellencies Heads of CEMAC Member States, Dear Brothers,
  • Peoples of CEMAC Member Countries,

Despite the health and security challenges I have just mentioned, our countries have made progress regarding subregional integration. Examples include:

- the gradual establishment of a common market through the on-going harmonization of member countries’ sector legislation;

- the formulation of common policies in various economic sectors;

- the promotion of trade, industry, agriculture, stockbreeding and fisheries;

- university cooperation;

- the free movement of people and goods.

Furthermore, the implementation of the CEMAC Economic and Financial Reform Programme (PREF-CEMAC) has helped to restore our macroeconomic fundamentals. The financing of integration projects is on track. We must maintain this drive to strengthen our infrastructural network. The digital economy affords us many opportunities to deepen integration and strengthen our economic resilience.

In the face of the pandemic, our specialized health organizations are, in conjunction with the World Health Organization (WHO), working towards improving the well-being of our populations.

I wish to thank our technical and financial partners for their multi-faceted support to our countries in the implementation of COVID-19 response plans in the CEMAC zone.

Prospects for our subregional integration, through streamlining Central Africa’s regional economic communities and the creation of a vast market, are bright.

  • Your Excellencies Heads of CEMAC Member States, Dear Brothers,
  • Peoples of CEMAC Member Countries,

While commending our governments for their continued commitment towards making CEMAC “an emerging integrated economic area in which security, solidarity and good governance reign, at the service of human development” by 2035, I wish you every success in the activities marking the commemoration of the 12th edition of CEMAC Day.

Long live sub-regional integration!

Long live CEMAC of the People!

Yaounde, 16 March 2021

Download the speech (pdf)