Strengthening the capacity of the Economic Community for Central African States to enhance development linkages from the extractive sector

12 February 2016

The ten member States of Economic Community of Central Africa States (ECCAS) are endowed with large reserves of fuel and mineral resources 30 percent of Africa's crude oil. With the right policies and institutional capacity in place, the exploitation of these mineral resources could generate substantial government revenues, create jobs and ultimately contribute to economic growth and development. However, available data reveals that the commodity price boom that preceded the recent bust has had a negligible impact on social development in the region.

According to the Millenium Development Goals Report 2015, Chad, for example, is among the only five countries in Africa where the primary school completion rate is below 50 percent, a severe decline compared to 2000.

At the 2016 edition Mining Indaba hosted in Cape Town on 08-11 February 2016, an annual African mining conference for mining executives, investors and policy-makers, delegates agreed that prices of oil and other minerals will not recover significantly in the near future. They also emphasised that the long term outlook for many minerals remains positive.

It is in this context that UNCTAD is implementing a development account project aimed at "Strengthening the capacity of the Economic Community for Central African Member States to enhance development linkages from the extractive sector".


The project was officially launched following a capacity building workshop in N'Djamena, Chad, on 25 to 30 November 2015.

More than 30 government officials, experts, representatives of international and regional organisations, academia, civil society and private sector from Chad and the Republic of Congo participated in the training workshop.

At the opening of the workshop, the importance of the project was emphasized by government officials.

"Chad is heavily dependent on oil. As such, the workshop's topic is of great interest to us. We want to know how to maximize the developmental benefits of this sector," said Mr. M. Mbaikombé Guetimbaye Abel, Chad's Deputy Secretary-General of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Tourism Development.

Ms. Milasoa Chérel-Robson, UNCTAD economist and project coordinator, emphasised the inclusive approach that the project will take in assisting beneficiary countries in the maximisation of the developmental linkages from their mineral sector. She also underlined the importance of collaborative partnerships in the delivery of the project.

To this end, UNCTAD's Special Unit on Commodities is partnering with the African Minerals Development Centre at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) as well as with the Secretariat of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).

Regional and national experts delivered technical presentations aimed at building institutional capacity on the thematic areas of mineral resources, local content and development linkages. The workshop included sessions that focused on the sharing of good practices at the regional level.

"We really appreciated the quality and richness of the interventions and their focus on policies and mechanisms to improve the benefits from the oil and mining sector," said Ms. Valérie Commelin, head of the Commercial Department and member of the Local Content Committee of the Société des Hydrocarbures du Tchad (SHT), the national oil company.

The official launch of the project was attended by high level officials from the three pilot countries namely, Chad, Congo and Equatorial Guinea.

"We stand ready to support the Governments of three pilot countries and their citizens through capacity-building activities to improve the policy, legal and regulatory framework to optimize the impact of the oil, gas and mining sectors in the sub region," stated Ms. Yanchun Zhang, Chief of the Commodity Policy Implementation and Outreach Section of UNCTAD's Special Unit on Commodities.

In doing so, UNCTAD will continue to adopt an inclusive approach that involves all stakeholders, both in government, academia, and within the private sector and civil society.

In Chad, UNCTAD's technical assistance will contribute to influencing the formulation and review of key strategic policy and regulatory documents that are under way. These include the establishment of its Mining Code and the design of a Local Content Act.

Capacity building of the multi-stakeholder task force on local content will also be a priority in 2016. To that extent, a diagnostic study is under way and will include an investigation of the country's readiness for turning local content legislation into tangible outcomes for economic and social development.

The study will assess the country's policy and institutional environment, including the legal and regulatory framework, the state of human capital development and technology, and the capacity of domestic firms to benefit from local content schemes. And finally, the necessary conditions for ensuring the country's compliance with its obligations under the WTO's Agreement on Trade-Related Investment Measures (TRIMs) and General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) will also assessed.

This is to ensure that proposals for contracting local service providers, or employment of local staff, in specific service sectors are in line with the relevant GATs Articles.

In the coming months, a draft national road map for the project's activities in the Republic of Congo will be prepared and submitted for discussion to the country's national task force team.

At the regional level, the project will focus on building greater convergence of efforts of common interest to members of the Economic Community of Central African States in addressing local content from a regional perspective, both in terms of policy-making, regulation and capacity-building initiatives.