Viewpoint by Elvis Kodjo, February 2012, Original version: French
Chad is a Central African country and a member of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), - but why should not it also become a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)? Although the idea has not been officially announced, the spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Moussa Mahamat Dago indicated on 19 January 2012 in Abidjan during a celebration of Chad’s 50th anniversary that the issue was currently being considered.
Emerging from several decades of unrest, Chad understands more than any other African country that “African integration is necessary for its development”, stated Mahamat.
He also underlined that Chad, which has already developed close relationships with four ECOWAS Member Countries, has a geographic location that would allow it to be a member of both ECOWAS and ECCAS and that such a dual membership “would not be contradictory.” It would not be the first time that a country was a member of two regional economic communities.
Chadian authorities have been unofficially considering this possibility because they see it as a way of securing the best possible future for their country. After thirty years of war, explained Mahamat, Chad continues to evoke the image of an unstable and violent country. Under the leadership of President Idriss Déby, the country has launched serious diplomatic efforts over the past decade to erase this dark past and to attract investors to this “huge construction site”, endowed with a vast potential that is just waiting to be exploited.” Despite some attempts to foster a rebellion, Mahamat stressed that President Déby has succeeded in putting Chad on the path towards development.
Since the start of oil production in 2005, Chad has become the ninth largest African oil producer and has improved its network of roads, which has expanded from 200 to more than 3 000 km. Plans for a new, ultramodern airport are underway, and a railroad linking the country to Cameroon will soon be constructed. While being a veritable construction site, Chad also has forty million hectors of arable land.
In order to encourage the effective use of this land, Mahamat indicated the country “has equipped itself with a particularly attractive investment code” and is looking to secure the best opportunities for itself by diversifying its economic partners in both Central and West Africa.