Central African Republic - Future trends

The CAR has a great deal of economic potential. The country's fertile land and abundant water resources offer hope in the agricultural sector, while rich mineral resources offer an opportunity to expand the export of commodities other than diamonds. The current construction of the pipeline project will also increase the feasibility of petroleum exploration by making it easier and cheaper to export oil reserves through Cameroon. The potential is great, but all depends on the CAR's ability to conquer its past demons.

Despite the CAR's vast natural resources, several obstacles impede the CAR's future prosperity: deforestation, poor infrastructure, the AIDS epidemic, and political instability. Deforestation is an unfortunate result of the heavy logging industry. New strategies must be developed for the timber industry to thrive economically. Deforestation adds to the problems of frequent flooding as well as to the country's vulnerability to desertification . The poor quality and lack of adequate infrastructure throughout the country also hampers economic development, making it difficult to get products to market or to explore new deposits of valuable minerals. With AIDS cases reaching epidemic proportions, the lack of health-care coverage and education threaten the well-being of the country. Some estimate that the CAR will lose an increasing number of its labor force to AIDS. Finally, and to some—most importantly—the government needs to overcome its budgetary problems. Internal budgetary mismanagement has deprived civil servants and others of their salaries and has bred political unrest. The government's ability to manage successfully will determine political stability, the essential precondition for foreign investment and consequent economic growth.

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