Central African Republic economy grows 5 pct in 2015, best in years

BANGUI, March 15 (Reuters) - Central African Republic’s economy grew by 4.9 percent last year, the biggest growth since 2000 as the country tried to emerge from years of conflict, the deputy governor of the Bank of Central African States (BEAC) said on Tuesday.

In an interview on national radio, Mahamat Tahir Ahmed said increased activity in most sectors of the economy helped boost growth after years of poor performance hampered by inter-communal violence and political instability.

In 2014, growth was 1 percent and in 2013, the economy contracted by 37 percent.

“Since 2000, Central African Republic has not experienced such growth,” said Ahmed. “Economic activities have resumed. All sectors are going in the right direction.”

Central African Republic, one of the world’s most unstable countries, suffered the worst crisis in its history in early 2013 when mainly Muslim Seleka fighters toppled president Francois Bozize.

Christian militias responded to Seleka abuses by attacking the Muslim minority. A fifth of the population fled their homes to escape the violence, leaving the impoverished country divided along ethnic and religious lines.

Once lucrative cotton and coffee sectors evaporated and gold, diamond and uranium resource development was slowed by coups and rebellions that have seen major investors give the former French colony a wide berth.

The country has taken some hope from recent peaceful elections in what was seen as a step towards reconciliation after years of violent turmoil. (Reporting By Crispin Dembassa-Kette; writing by Edward McAllister; Editing by Bernard Orr)