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Central African Republic’s History and Economy Research Paper

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Updated: Jun 8th, 2021

Introduction

The Central African Republic acquired its independence from France on 13 August 1960 as for the previous 70 years, it had been under the colonial rule. The country is located in the middle of Africa, and it preconditions its extreme ethnic and religious diversity. The dominating religion is Christianity, but at the same time, there is a small Muslim community. There are two official languages, which are French and Sango. The population of the republic counts 4,6 million people (Smith, 2015). The country is rich in various natural resources; however, diamonds and wood remain the main ones. The agricultural sector of the state economy remains the most developed one and the majority of citizens work in it. The Central African Republic has one of the lowest GDP per capita which is $401 (Smith, 2015). For this reason, there are multiple attempts to get financial support from other countries to invest in the development of tourism.

The history of the government in the state remains complex as there is no previous successful experience. Jean-Bedel Bokassa was the first president of the coutnry until the first multi-party democratic elections in 1993. However, in 2004 the civil war caused by religious, ethnic, and political causes started (Smith, 2015). It resulted in mass devastations and chaos on the territory of the Central African Republic.

Problems

Central African Republic has the potential for further evolution and becoming one of the leading countries in the region. There are many natural resources that can be used by the government to improve its economic power and create a positive environment that will help citizens to live happily. However, regardless of the existence of these factors, there are still many problems that affect the Central African Republic and slow down the speed of its evolution. Among nagging problems that should be taken into account are low income and poverty preconditioned by this factor, constant ethnic and religious problems complicated by the civil war, the lack of governmental control over the vast territories of the state, and sustainable development of diamond resources. Analysis of these issues is essential for the better understanding of the current situation in the country and a proposal of solutions to create better living conditions for people.

Poverty is one of the most serious problems that are associated with the country. At the moment, it is among the poorest countries in Africa as the average income is about 750 dollars per year. Moreover, the national economy is not powerful enough to provide citizens with the money they need for their development, and the Central African Republic relies on foreign donations and help of the United Nations (Marchal, 2015a). The existence of these negative factors also means that about 90% percent of the whole population lives in extreme poverty. There is no access to food, clean water, housing, healthcare services, and educational establishments (Marchal, 2015a). More than 40% of citizens cannot enjoy regular meals and have to work hard to earn money for their families to survive (Marchal, 2015a). This situation is critical and demands immediate intervention to help individuals who live in complex conditions.

Another problem is the constant ethnic and religious conflicts that devastate the country and deteriorate its chances for stable development. Historically, the Central African Republic has a rich ethnical diversity as there are about 80 groups living on its territory (Mouhamadou, 2014). This factor preconditions the existence of multiple conflicts between representatives of these communities. There are also various religious confessions in the country. 80% of its citizens are Christians represented by Baptists, Lutherans, and Catholics (Mouhamadou, 2014). At the same time, there are also Muslims who face many challenges and attacks. The given rich composition creates the basis for the appearance of violent ethnic conflicts and civil wars. They result in the weakening of the state, destruction of its economy, and extremely low quality of life. Ethnic conflicts also attract the attention of international human rights organizations that try to protect individuals and help them.

Moreover, the country witnessed a big number of rebellions, military conflicts, and riots in the new history of the Central African Republic. After the proclamation of its independence, the state has witnessed multiple regimes and attempts to seize power (Lombard, 2016). It means that the withdrawal of French troops preconditioned the appearance of the vacuum of power and chaos. The local authorities were not able to control the whole territory of the state, resist various radical organizations, and protect its citizens from attacks of other ethnic groups or bordering lands (Marchal, 2015b). Moreover, continuous warfare has an extremely negative impact on the state of the economy and quality of people’s lives. For this reason, the analysis of the country is impossible without consideration of this aspect as it shapes the development of the Central African Republic.

The need for the effective use of diamond resources is another issue that is peculiar to the state. At the moment, the development and export of this item is the most important aspect of the county’s export and accounts for about 40-55% of all revenues (Chirico, Barthélémy, & Ngbokoto, 2010). However, the problem is that about 50% of gemstones produced every year are sold illegally, and there are no contributions to the budged (Dalby, 2015). Additionally, control over this industry provides many advantages to the group or political actor, which means that diamonds often become the main cause of conflicts and oppositions. It becomes critically important to stop illegal traffic of diamonds as it undermines the economic stability of the state and prevents its industrial sector from further development.

Historical Background

The existence of these problems can be explained by the historical background of the Central African Republic. The fact is that for decades, it had been used as a raw material base supplying France with diamonds and other resources (Pacific, 2017). There were no attempts to solve some inner conflicts, create the appropriate infrastructure, align improved cooperation between various ethnic groups, and provide a certain level of independence and self-administration (Smith, 2015). As a result, the country does not have the experience needed to support the functioning of the independent state and observe the law on its territories. The absence of colonial military forces also preconditioned the appearance of radical groups that use rich natural resources of the state and do not contribute to the development of its wealth.

Economy

In such a way, due to the negative historical background, and the current problems, the economy of the Central African Republic remains extremely weak. The state is one of the poorest countries in the world, characterized by the vague future and constant appearance of new problems in various spheres. The inability of the government to gain control over the territory and control the diamond industry undermine the stability and eliminates opportunities for future growth (Pacific, 2018). Additionally, the are many other natural resources that can be used to improve the situation; however, their development demands investments and additional financing which becomes impossible regarding the current status of the Central African Republic’s economy.

Altogether, the existence of the problems mentioned above deprives the country of chances for any positive changes in its economy during the next decade. The high level of corruption, use of illegal schemes and traffic of diamonds, lack of governmental power, and constant civil conflicts are the negative factors that affect all spheres of the state and weaken its fragile economy even more (Carayannis & Lombard, 2015). It can be expected that the quality of life will continue to decrease, and population will face new challenges (Käihkö & Utas, 2014). For this reason, there is an obvious need for the intervention that would help to solve the most relevant issues and create the conditions beneficial for the future growth of the economy. However, the most important problem, which should be resolved immediately, is the civil war, as it leaves no chances for sustainable development and devastates the country.

Problem and Solution

The selection of this issue as the most important one is explained by the fact that military conflicts are a serious barrier to the development of any state. First, parties need money to support their troops and resist their opponents. That is why the economy suffers as finances are used by armies. Second, multiple clashes and skirmishes precondition destruction of the objects of infrastructure and slow down the speed of the country’s growth. Finally, they introduce instability and the absence of authorities that can solve the majority of problems and create a new vector for the development of the state. The creation of the appropriate solution to stop civil wars acquires the top priority.

Because of the complexity of this issue, an effective intervention might mean several steps. The perfect solution to the problem is the creation of a powerful government that would be able to control the whole territory of the state, protect its citizens, stimulate the growth of the economy, and solve ethnic and religious conflicts avoiding military conflicts. The existence of this authority will also help to eliminate various groups that control the diamond industry or organize illegal traffic of gems. One of the first steps towards the use creation of a new government is the organization of elections that will provide people with the opportunity to vote for their candidates. It can be done with the support of the United Nations to ensure that all populations will be involved in the process and no military groups will try to interfere or abort elections.

A new legitimate government should also be supported by the world community during the first stages of its existence to avoid riots or attempts of other parties to seize power. It is critical to restore control over the whole territory of the Central African Republic and protect various ethnic groups from the acts of violence or conflicts based on religious or cultural issues. The next step regarding the proposed solution is the creation of the tolerant environment that is needed for all citizens to cooperate with each other and avoid discriminative patterns in their behavior (Brown & Zahar, 2015). The new legal framework should guarantee equal rights for all people regardless of their culture, religion, or ethnicity, and the powerful government should ensure that these rules will be observed. It will help to resolve the tension in relations between opposing parties.

Finally, the new government should be responsible for the creation of conditions favorable for the development of diamond resources and prevention of their illegal export. The absence of civil conflicts will provide new authorities with additional resources that might be needed for the regulation of the given sector and its monitoring. That is why all money generated due to the export of this item will be contributed to the budget, which is vital for the rise of the state’s economy. Finances can be invested in other industries and used to create objects of infrastructure needed to help people and improve their living conditions. In such a way, the proposed solution seems an effective option to achieve the stable development of the nation.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Central African Republic is a young state that became independent in 1960. The historical background of the country and the lack of self-government experience resulted in the appearance of numerous problems in all spheres. The rich ethnic diversity of the population preconditioned multiple civil wars and military conflicts. Additionally, the country turned into one of the poorest nations in the world. That is why there is a need for an effective solution to these problems. One of the possible ways is the creation of a new powerful government supported by the United Nations for it to control the whole territory, protect all citizens, and guarantee that diamond and other resources will be used in appropriate ways to empower the growing economy and improve people’s lives.

References

Brown, M. J., & Zahar, M.-J. (2015). Social cohesion as peacebuilding in the Central African Republic and beyond. Journal of Peacebuilding & Development, 10(1), 10–24. Web.

Carayannis, T & Lombard, L. (2015). A concluding note on the failure and future of peacebuilding in CAR. In T. Carayannis, & L. Lombard (Eds.), Making sense of the Central African Republic (pp. 319-342). London, England: Zed Books.

Chirico, P., Barthélémy, F., & Ngbokoto, F. (2010). Web.

Dalby, N. (2015). A multifaceted business: Diamonds in the Central African Republic. In T. Carayannis, & L. Lombard (Eds.), Making sense of the Central African Republic (pp. 123-142). London, England: Zed Books.

Käihkö, I., & Utas, M. (2014). The crisis in CAR: Navigating myths and interests. Africa Spectrum, 49(1), 69–77. Web.

Lombard, L. (2016). State of rebellion: violence and intervention in the Central African Republic. London, England: Zed Books.

Marchal, R. (2015a). Being rich, being poor: Wealth and fear in the Central African Republic. In T. Carayannis, & L. Lombard (Eds.), Making sense of the Central African Republic (pp. 53-76). London, England: Zed Books.

Marchal, R. (2015b). CAR and the regional (dis)order. In T. Carayannis, & L. Lombard (Eds.), Making sense of the Central African Republic (pp. 166-194). London, England: Zed Books.

Mouhamadou, K. (2014) Interreligious violence in the Central African Republic: An analysis of the causes and implications. African Security Review 23(3), 312-317.

Pacific, Y. K. T. (2017). Slow growth of foreign direct Investment in Central African Republic. Global Business Review, 18(6), 1435–1446. Web.

Pacific, Y. K. T. (2018). Fragility of state in Central African Republic: An econometric approach to efficiency understanding. Global Business Review, 21(3), 1-17. Web.

Smith, S. (2015). CAR’s history: The past of a tense present. In T. Carayannis, & L. Lombard (Eds.), Making sense of the Central African Republic (pp. 17-53). London, England: Zed Books.

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