Central African Republic - Industry



The industrial sector makes up about 20 percent of GDP. Mining is the most significant part of this sector. Mining is conducted by individual miners who use simple equipment. CAR has deposits of gold, uranium, iron ore, manganese, and copper. Lack of infrastructure, which makes it difficult to find and to transport mined minerals, has impeded further mineral exploration, but the CAR has over 400,000 square kilometers (154,440 square miles) of unexplored terrain with high geological potential for diamonds and other mineral deposits.

Diamonds provide about half of the CAR's export earnings. An estimated 80,000 independent miners officially produced 415,000 carats of diamonds in 1999. The official numbers are well below the actual amount of diamonds mined because there is a great deal of diamond smuggling in the country. Legitimate miners sell their products to 160 certified agents who sell to purchasing agents in Bangui. But one respected French economic journal, Marche Tropicaux, estimated total exports in 1997 at 1.5 million carats, more than 3 times the official total.

Besides mining, the CAR has several industries that process products for export as well as producing goods for domestic markets. Though most lumber is exported as raw logs, some of it is processed in sawmills and exported as boards. As in many African countries, breweries are one of the country's oldest and largest industries, brewing beer primarily for domestic consumption. Several other small companies assemble bicycles and motorcycles. In recent years, the country's textile factory has become inactive because it was unable to compete against cheap imports and the second-hand clothing market.

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