The country's challenges were examined at the 23rd African Industrialisation Day yesterday November 20.
The government of Cameroon is reviewing its national master plan for industrialisation to step up local processing of agricultural, mining and forestry products so as to increase its competitiveness in international trade. Already, efforts are ongoing to process at least 15 per cent of minerals mined in the country. The Secretary of State in the Ministry of Mines, Industries and Technological Development, Dr. Fuh Calistus Gentry, made the disclosure yesterday November 20 as he chaired activities marking the 23rd African Industrialisation Day on the theme, "Accelerating industrialisation to boost intra-African trade."
Like other speakers, Dr. Fuh Calistus admitted that Cameroon is endowed with enormous natural resources whose insufficient processing, owing to multifaceted reasons, has kept the country, like the continent, dependent on imports or exporting mainly primary products like crude oil, cocoa, coffee, wood and banana etc. "Cameroon disposes vast reserves of natural resources in mining, 35 million metric tons of iron ore, many cobalt/nickel reserves and potentials in the forestry and agricultural sectors. President Paul Biya has put in place in his Greater Accomplishments policy, energy projects, like Lom-Pangar, Memve'ele, Mekin and Kribi, that will provide us with needed energy to enhance processing," he said. The Secretary of State also announced that in his Ministry, a project, code-named, "FECONA" is ongoing and seeks to process iron ore, nickel, cobalt, aluminium etc into what Cameroonians need. "To be competitive, we need to produce in quantity and quality. When we keep 15 per cent of what we get as metals to be processed locally, we are going to look at the needs of Cameroonians and those of others in the continent so that we can satisfy them with what we process to effectively boost intra-African trade," Dr Fuh Calistus said.
Other speakers at the event, notably from the UN System in the country, noted that African economies are among the fastest growing in the world, yet intra-regional trade accounts only for 10 per cent of the continent's commerce. Impediments like obsolete infrastructure, fragmented economic space, low production capacities, limited investment financing and high transaction costs, they said, absolutely need to be addressed to get the continent on win-win trade.