Central Africa

The current most important issue with regard to the Central African region is the strengthening of bi-lateral relations. Since 2003, SA representation has been established in Cameroon, Sao Tome, Equatorial Guinea, Republic of Congo and in Chad. An Honorary Consul is likely to be appointed in the Central African Republic. Following on the establishment of these Missions has been the signing of a wide range of Agreements.

President Mbeki visited Gabon in August 2005 with the accent on strengthening trade and economic relations between the two countries. A State Visit to the Republic of Congo took place in November 2005. There have been various contacts at Ministerial level including visits by Minister Dlamini-Zuma to the region in 2003, 2004 and 2005.

Apart from deepening economic co-operation with the region, other issues of importance are conflict resolution, promotion of good governance, peace and stability as well as economic reconstruction and development. In this regard, the specific challenges facing South Africa are to promote peace and stability and to assist with post-conflict reconstruction and development in the Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and Sao Tomé and Principé.

In addition to the above, other challenges include the promotion of the values of democracy and good governance and the implementation of sound stable economic policies. The main areas of focus in this regard are Gabon, Cameroon, Chad and
Equatorial Guinea.

Positive political developments in the region will also greatly enhance the potential for the implementation of NEPAD programmes. NEPAD programmes identified by the regional body, ECCAS (Economic Community of Central African States) include improving transport links between Gabon and the Republic of Congo and the DRC, between the Central African Republic and Cameroon and tourism development projects in Gabon.

The discovery of petroleum in new areas of the Gulf of Guinea will increasingly benefit most of the countries of the region, particularly Equatorial Guinea and Sao Tome and Principe. Chad too has recently become an oil exporting country and the former "oil economies" of Gabon and Cameroon are also reaping the rewards of higher oil prices combined with better exploration techniques. The perceived "easy wealth" brought by petroleum also has the negative effect of increasing instability in a society. Political events in the Gulf of Guinea and its hinterland in recent times bear testimony to this.

Updated: Dec. 2005

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2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa