The per capita income of the Republic is often listed as being approximately $400 a year, one of the lowest in the world, but this figure is based mostly on reported sales of exports and largely ignores the unregistered sale of foods, locally produced alcoholic beverages, diamonds, ivory, bushmeat, and traditional medicine.
The currency of Central African Republic is the CFA franc, which is accepted across the former countries of French West Africa and trades at a fixed rate to the Euro.
Diamonds constitute the country’s most important export, accounting for 40–55% of export revenues, but it is estimated that between 30% and 50% of those produced each year leave the country clandestinely.
Agriculture is dominated by the cultivation and sale of food crops such as cassava, peanuts, maize, sorghum, millet, sesame, and plantain. The annual real GDP growth rate is just above 3%.
The importance of food crops over exported cash crops is indicated by the fact that the total production of cassava, the staple food of most Central Africans, ranges between 200,000 and 300,000 tonnes a year, while the production of cotton, the principal exported cash crop, ranges from 25,000 to 45,000 tonnes a year.
Food crops are not exported in large quantities, but still constitute the principal cash crops of the country, because Central Africans derive far more income from the periodic sale of surplus food crops than from exported cash crops such as cotton or coffee.
Much of the country is self-sufficient in food crops; however, livestock development is hindered by the presence of the tsetse fly.
The Republic’s primary import partner is the Netherlands (19.5%). Other imports come from Cameroon (9.7%), France (9.3%), and South Korea (8.7%).
Its largest export partner is Belgium (31.5%), followed by China (27.7%), the Democratic Republic of Congo (8.6%), Indonesia (5.2%), and France (4.5%).
The CAR is a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA).
In the 2009 World Bank Group’s report Doing Business, it was ranked 183rd of 183 as regards ‘ease of doing business’, a composite index which takes into account regulations that enhance business activity and those that restrict it.
Transportation in the Central African Republic
Bangui is the transport hub of the Central African Republic. As of 1999, eight roads connected the city to other main towns in the country, Cameroon, Chad and South Sudan; of these, only the toll roads are paved. During the rainy season from July to October, some roads are impassable.
River ferries sail from the river port at Bangui to Brazzaville and Zongo. The river can be navigated most of the year between Bangui and Brazzaville. From Brazzaville, goods are transported by rail to Pointe-Noire, Congo’s Atlantic port.
The river port handles the overwhelming majority of the country’s international trade and has a cargo handling capacity of 350,000 tons; it has 350 metres (1,150 ft) length of wharfs and 24,000 square metres (260,000 sq ft) of warehousing space.
Bangui M’Poko International Airport is Central African Republic’s only international airport.
As of June 2014 it had regularly scheduled direct flights to Brazzaville, Casablanca, Cotonou, Douala, Kinshasha, Lomé, Luanda, Malabo, N’Djamena, Paris, Pointe-Noire, and Yaoundé.
Since at least 2002 there have been plans to connect Bangui by rail to the Transcameroon Railway.
Energy in the Central African Republic
The Central African Republic primarily uses hydroelectricity as there are few other resources for energy and power for the world around them.
Communications in the Central African Republic
Presently, the Central African Republic has active television services, radio stations, internet service providers, and mobile phone carriers; Socatel is the leading provider for both internet and mobile phone access throughout the country.
The primary governmental regulating bodies of telecommunications are the Ministère des Postes and Télécommunications et des Nouvelles Technologies.
In addition, the Central African Republic receives international support on telecommunication related operations from ITU Telecommunication Development Sector (ITU-D) within the International Telecommunication Union to improve infrastructure.
Education in the Central African Republic
Public education in the Central African Republic is free and is compulsory from ages 6 to 14. However, approximately half of the adult population of the country is illiterate.
The University of Bangui, a public university located in Bangui, includes a medical school, and Euclid University, an international university in Bangui, are the two institutions of higher education in the Central African Republic.
Health in the Central African Republic
Mothers and babies aged between 0 and 5 years are lining up in a Health Post at Begoua, a district of Bangui, waiting for the two drops of the oral polio vaccine.
The largest hospitals in the country are located in the Bangui district. As a member of the World Health Organization, the Central African Republic receives vaccination assistance, such as a 2014 intervention for the prevention of a measles epidemic.
In 2007, female life expectancy at birth was 48.2 years and male life expectancy at birth was 45.1 years.
Women’s health is poor in the Central African Republic. As of 2010, the country had the 4th highest maternal mortality rate in the world. The total fertility rate in 2014 was estimated at 4.46 children born/woman.
Approximately 25% of women had undergone female genital mutilation. Many births in the country are guided by traditional birth attendants, who often have little or no formal training.
Malaria is endemic in the Central African Republic, and one of the leading causes of death. According to 2009 estimates, the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate is about 4.7% of the adult population (ages 15–49).
Government expenditure on health was US$20 (PPP) per person in 2006 and 10.9% of total government expenditure in 2006. There was only around 1 physician for every 20,000 persons in 2009.