Central African Republic Industry
The industrial sector is small and undeveloped. Political unrest, bureaucratic hassle, corruption, a limited domestic market and a lack of investment, transport opportunities and electricity have hindered expansion.
The industries that exist are mainly devoted to textile production, processing of agricultural products and timber products and paper production.
Almost all industry is concentrated to the capital Bangui.
The widespread unrest that erupted in 2012 (see Modern History) has hit hard on the small development the industry experienced in the years before. During the conflict, companies were looted on machines and goods and business premises were destroyed.
The closed position of the Central African Republic makes it expensive and difficult to trade with the outside world.
The trade exchange is usually in deficit, that is, the cost of imports greatly exceeds the sums earned by the country on its exports. Export income also varies with fluctuations in world market prices.
The gap between imports and exports widened considerably during the unrest that erupted in 2012 (see Modern History). Between 2012 and 2013, exports were more than halved due to the conflict. The most important export product of the Central African Republic is diamonds, but legal diamond exports have been hit hard by the civil war. Due to the violent militia groups’ control over a significant part of diamond extraction, a large part of the Central African Republic’s diamond exports has been banned by the so-called Kimberley Process (see Natural Resources and Energy). Large quantities of diamonds are smuggled into the world market instead.
In addition to diamonds, the most important export products are timber, cotton and coffee.
Imports mainly consist of food and oil. In addition, chemicals, machinery and vehicles are mainly imported.
Belgium is the most important export market of the Central African Republic, which depends on the diamond trade. The most important importing country is France. Since the turn of the millennium, trade has increased with China, which is an important export market for timber. Since 2007, the Central African Republic and China have an agreement that provides duty-free clearance for Central African goods in the Chinese market.
There is also significant informal trade across borders with neighboring countries, which is not visible in the statistics.
The country, together with the Congo-Brazzaville, Gabon, Cameroon, Chad and Equatorial Guinea, is part of the Central African Customs Union UDEAC. Membership also involves financial cooperation in several other areas, including a joint central bank. The Central African Republic is also a member of the Cemac regional currency union.
FACTS – FOREIGN TRADE
US $ 146 million (1994)
US $ 131 million (1994)
– US $ 25 million (1994)
Commodity trade’s share of GDP
25 percent (2018)
Main export goods
diamonds, timber, cotton, coffee
Largest trading partner
China, Belgium, Congo-Brazzaville, South Korea, Netherlands
The Central African Republic could be an attractive destination for those who want to visit a country outside the commercial tourist routes.
There are pristine rainforests and open savannas with a rich wildlife to view. The conditions are good for hunting and fishing tourism. But the poor security situation, high prices and penalties generally keep foreign tourists from visiting the country.
At times, many countries also urge their citizens to refrain from traveling to the area.
This applies, for example, to the Swedish Foreign Ministry, which since December 2012 has advised against travel to the Central African Republic. Normally, travel insurance does not apply if the Ministry of Foreign Affairs recommends travel, and supplementary insurance may be required to have protection if one decides to travel to the country despite the Foreign Ministry’s advice.
FACTS – TOURISM
Number of foreign visitors per year
US $ 15 600 000 (2013)
Thousands of child soldiers participate in the conflict
At the end of the month, the UN reports that several children in the capital Bangui have been beheaded in revenge campaigns between warring groups and that more and more children are being recruited as soldiers. According to UN estimates, there are about 6,000 child soldiers in the country.
Chadier target for anti-balaka militias
At the end of the month, six soldiers from Chad serving in the AU force are killed. The soldiers are attacked by an anti-balaka group in the capital. Chadians who are in the country, including soldiers in the peace force, are accused by certain groups of supporting Séléka rebels, thus setting a target for those fighting them. More and more Chadians are fleeing the country.
New abuses are reported from Bossangoa
According to a report by Human Rights Watch , Christian militias have attacked Muslim areas in Bossangoa, killing children and forcing parents to watch. Muslim groups have been avenged by burning down Christian homes and killing those who lived there.
Amnesty International accuses rebels of war crimes
Amnesty International writes in a report published on December 18 that there is no doubt that war crimes have been committed in the country. Amnesty writes that at the beginning of the month, Christian militia went door-to-door in some neighborhoods in Bangui, killing some sixty Muslim men. Séléka rebels must have responded by killing about a thousand Christian men and systematically plundering their homes. Some women and children are also killed.
AU reinforces Misca
The AU decides to send even more soldiers to the country. The AU-led peace force Misca will thus be expanded to 6,000 men. It also becomes clear that there is tension within the transitional government. In mid-December, President Djotodia dismissed three members of government. However, the dismissals should not have been approved by the Prime Minister.
Two French soldiers are killed
Two French soldiers are killed in fighting with Séléka rebels near the airport. But the situation is otherwise reported to be much calmer. France calls on other European countries to send troops to the Central African Republic to stop the violence. At least 40,000 people are seeking protection at the airport guarded by French soldiers.
The peace force is strengthened
New soldiers from France and various African countries are now starting to arrive in the Central African Republic. According to France, the French soldiers should disarm the militia groups forcibly if necessary. They are now starting to patrol the streets of Bangui as well as the western parts of the country near the border with Cameroon.
The AU force Misca acquires new powers
The UN Security Council approves a resolution mandating the AU force and French soldiers to use “all necessary measures” to restore order in the country. Meanwhile, reports of fighting in Bangui come between former Séléka rebels on one side and militia supporting former President Bozizé and anti-Balaka on the other. Both Séléka rebels and anti-Balaka militias attack civilians in the capital. According to reports from the Red Cross, at least 400 people have been killed in just a few days. Unrest also continues in other parts of the country. They are reported to have claimed at least 150 fatalities.
Séléka rebels and anti-Balaka are accused of serious MRI crimes
Struggles between former Séléka rebels and anti-Balaka continue. Both sides are accused of assaulting civilians. Several human rights organizations warn that violence is increasing day by day, with murders, rapes and children recruited as soldiers.
Over 200,000 have been forced to flee
According to the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR, 220,000 people have been forced to flee since December 2012. Most of the refugees are in the country, while 60,000 have applied to neighboring countries.
Séléka is accused of new serious acts of violence
According to Doctors Without Borders, thousands of people have been forced to flee in the middle of the country since their villages were burned down. Rebels linked to Séléka are accused of the killing.
Séléka is formally dissolved, but the violence continues
The turmoil increases a little over a week into September and on September 13, President Djotodia Séléka dissolves and says that everyone who acts in the name of the movement should be punished. Some of the former rebels are incorporated into the national army, while others refuse to be disarmed and continue their attacks on the civilian population. Christians who feel particularly vulnerable to Séléka’s persecution are beginning to form self-defense groups along with other non-Muslims, so-called “anti-balaka” (see Political system).
The AU promises to increase the peace force
The African peacekeeping force, which consists of about 800 men, most from Gabon, Congo-Brazzaville, Cameroon and Chad, is too small to improve security in the country. The African Union now decides to create a new strengthened peace force called Misca.
Thousands of civilians seek shelter at the airport
Reports say that up to 6,000 people, most of them women and children, have applied to Bangui Airport, hoping to get protection from 400 French soldiers stationed there.
Djotodia takes over as president
Michel Djotodia swears presidential pledge and promises to conduct elections within 19 months.
1.6 million people in need of relief
A report to the UN Security Council in early August talks about violence from Séléka and people from other armed groups. It deals with a wide range of serious abuses, especially in rural areas, with extrajudicial executions, rapes of women and children, arbitrary arrests and the recruitment of child soldiers. According to the report, at least 1.6 million people are in urgent need of emergency assistance. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon calls on the Security Council to impose sanctions or appoint an expert group to monitor what is happening in the country.
Increased tensions between Muslims and Christians
New battles are reported between Séléka and loyal groups with the overthrown president. As the unrest continues, tensions between Christians and Muslims are rising.
“The whole healthcare sector has stopped working”
The Aid Organization Doctors Without Borders sounds alarm and says that the entire healthcare sector has stopped functioning and that malnutrition and diseases such as malaria are causing major problems.
Rebels are suspected of 400 murders
The human rights organization FIDH states that groups linked to Séléka had committed at least 400 murders since March of that year, but only a few of the perpetrators had been arrested.
Séléka is accused of assaulting civilians
Human Rights Watch accuses Séléka of gross abuses against the civilian population during the battle for Bangui in March. According to testimonies to the human rights organization, the rebels engaged in looting, summary executions, rape and torture.
The government appeals to France for help
Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye appeals to France in the middle of the month for help to restore order in the country.
National Transitional Council formed, new unrest in Bangui
At the CEEAC Regional Cooperation Organization (ECCAS) Summit in Chad’s capital N’Djamena, a number of African leaders agree to appoint a National Transitional Council (CNT) to govern the Central African Republic (see also Political system). Djotodia is elected leader of the transitional council and thus becomes interim presidentuntil the election. Shortly thereafter, fighting broke out in Bangui between Séléka and armed youths supporting the overthrowing regime. About 10 people are killed, including several children. Overall, unrest continues in the capital, and rebels from Séléka are accused of participating in the looting of housing and business in Bangui. Soldiers from Chad and Micopax are also reported to be participating in this. Almost all Bangui operations are at a standstill. There are also signs of increased disagreement within Séléka.
New transitional government is dominated by rebels
At the end of March, Djotodia appoints a new transitional government, where he himself controls several ministries. Eight members of the former political opposition are also included in the government.
AU sanctions against Séléka
The UN expresses concern about the humanitarian situation in the country. In the area around Bangassou in the south, where the Ugandan LRA rebels have previously made a hard move against the civilian population, it is difficult for the UN refugee agency UNHCR to assist those affected. The AU temporarily suspends the Central African Republic as a member of the organization, and introduces sanctions on Séléka’s leaders who have their assets frozen and covered with travel bans.
Rebel leaders exclaim to president
The rebel leader Michel Djotodia, Minister of Defense in the Unity Government, appoints himself new President, repeals the Constitution and dissolves Parliament. He says he will govern via decree until elections can be held within two, three years.
Rebels on the rise. Bozizé flies
New battles are reported and the rebels take on several cities in the north and the capital Bangui. Bozizé flees to Cameroon (he later applies for political asylum in Belgium). Shops, restaurants, housing and offices are being raided in Bangui by both civilian and Séléka rebels, despite the curfew being imposed.
Séléka leaves the government
Séléka accuses President Bozizé of violating the peace deal by, among other things, running a parallel administration alongside the unity government. The rebels leave the government.
Bozizés camp dominates the new unity government
People loyal to Bozizé receive several of the heaviest posts in the Unity Government.
Ready for a ceasefire between the government and Séléka
Negotiations start between the government and Séléka in Libreville, Gabon. The parties agree to form a unity government and formally announce a ceasefire.
Reports of abuses against civilians
Thousands of people have been forced to flee the fighting between Séléka and the government. According to the human rights organization International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), both sides have been guilty of serious abuses against the civilian population.