A consortium of three banks comprising, Afriland First Bank, Ecobank and SCB (Attijariwafa bank) have loaned out FCFA 5.5 billion to the country's spinning, weaving and cloth printing company (CICAM) to help the outfit revamp its production plant in Garoua so as to ably stand national and international competition.
The loan agreement was signed Wednesday December 26 in the Conference Hall of the Ministry of Finance between the Board Chair of CICAM, Yaou Aïssatou, the General Managers of Afriland First Bank, Ecobank, and the Corporate Director of SCB. Finance Minister, Alamine Ousmane Mey, signed the guarantee letter (government's surety), in the presence of his colleague of Mines, Industries and Technological Development, Emmanuel Bonde, among other dignitaries.
Speaking during the ceremony, Alamine Ousmane Mey said with the money, CICAM will renew its production machines and move from an annual cotton processing capacity of 3,000 metric tonnes to 6,500 metric tonnes. "It will help to replace outmoded machines of CICAM in Garoua, add value to the country's cotton before export and will also serve as a challenge for producers to beef up output," the Minister said. Records show that Cameroon's annual cotton production stands at about 250,000 metric tonnes and that barely 5 per cent of it is processed locally. Reason why Finance Minister, the financiers and CICAM saw in the loan an opportunity to take a leap in local processing which will not only better the country's trade balance but will create employment opportunities as well.
To Yaou Aïssatou who is also the General Manager of the National Investment Corporation (SNI), the supervisory authority of CICAM, the Garoua refurbishing project is part of the restructuring plan put in place to modernise the production capacity of CICAM. "Competition from Asia is tough and CICAM needs to modernise all its equipment reason why we started with Douala and now in Garoua. I am sure that CICAM will be able to play an important role in the development of the textile sector in the country and sub-region," she said.
Like Moustapha Fall of Ecobank, the General Manager of Afriland First Bank, Alphonse Nafack, said the gesture testifies the confidence the consortium has on government and CICAM. "We hope with this, CICAM will be able to meet its objectives and respect the terms of the accord so that in the years to come, banks would be able to play their role without hanging on the State surety. As a first bank in Cameroon, Afriland First Bank could not afford to stay away from projects that seek to develop the economy like the one of CICAM," he stated.