Central African Republic - Services

The small banking sector remains plagued by past management problems and offers only limited services. A report by the Central Bank of Central Africa (BEAC) estimated in 1999 that only one of the CAR's 3 commercial banks was financially sound, but the other 2 were at least making progress with internal reforms. Several banks have been privatized during the 1990s, and 2 of these have joined the large European banking groups, Société General and Groupe Belgolaise.

The government telecommunications company, SOCATEL, holds a monopoly over most telephone services (excluding cellular services). In 1996, the government agreed to sell 40 percent of SOCATEL to the French company France Radio et Cable (FRC) and plans to sell its remaining 60 percent stake in the coming years.

Small informal vendors dominate retail services. A few modern shops are centered in Bangui's commercial district, but most retail sales are conducted by unregistered street vendors or those operating from one-room stores or roadside stalls. Informal trade is difficult to quantify, but it is clear that most retail commerce is conducted within the informal economy.

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