Congolese security forces chase people during a protest, in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017. Congolese security forces shot dead two men outside a church on Sunday while dispersing demonstrators protesting in the country's capital against President Joseph Kabila's refusal to step down from power, according to Human Rights Watch. (AP Photo/John Bompengo)
Congolese security forces chase people during a protest, in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017. Congolese security forces shot dead two men outside a church on Sunday while dispersing demonstrators protesting in the country's capital against President Joseph Kabila's refusal to step down from power, according to Human Rights Watch. (AP Photo/John Bompengo)

JOHANNESBURG - The countries of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) face continued turbulence as political upheaval, the threat of terrorism and economic instability continue to threaten the region’s security.

The oil-dependent CEMAC countries, which include Chad, Cameroon, the Republic of Congo, Central African Republic (CAR), Gabon and Equatorial Guinea had a rocky 2017, marred by a crash in commodity prices and socio-political unrest, aggravated by political repression and a lack of substantive democratic reform.  

The failed coup attempt in Equatorial Guinea last December was one of the examples of opposition to undemocratic regimes in the area.

Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies (ISS) senior researchers Fonteh Akum and Zach Donnenfeld said that security threats posed by Boko Haram on the north-western front of the region further compounded the area’s political and economic instability.

While military cooperation by Chad and Cameroon, backed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), has helped contain Boko Haram’s expansion in the area, piracy along the Gulf of Guinea and instability in the CAR remain major issues, Akum and Donnenfeld explained in an ISS article.

By 2040 the region’s population is set to increase by 75 percent to more than 90 million people from the 51 million in 2016, according to an ISS study.

“This population growth – fuelled by high fertility rates and prolonged life expectancy – will increase stress on governments to provide essential goods and services across decentralised urban spaces,” stated the ISS researchers.

The working population will double in the same timeframe so it is imperative that employment opportunities are created for an additional 25 million people.

The high unemployment predicted for 2040 will be exacerbated by 26 million people living below the international extreme poverty line, 18 million without access to piped water and 14 million adults without a primary education.

These future structural challenges are exacerbated by current governance rigidity characterised by democratic deficiencies, tenuous accountability and repression of regime opponents.

When viewed as a group, CEMAC countries score well below other African regions, and the continental average, on various measures of governance.

These restrictions on political freedoms and higher levels of undemocratic and corrupt governance could provoke further riots and protests.

The ISS authors explain that when undemocratic regimes put their political survival ahead of addressing legitimate socio-political discontent, they put sustainable peace and security at risk.

CEMAC states must redress the thorny issue of state capture and poor governance by entrenched regimes, stated Akum and Donnenfeld.

“This will foster the social cohesion necessary to confront security threats at its regional frontiers, promote more inclusive economic growth, and quell the recent rise in politically motivated unrest.”

- African News Agency (ANA)