Cameroon Tribune (Yaoundé)

28 January 2013

Cameroon: All Set for President Biya's Visit in Paris

All is now set in Paris for a successful and fruitful working visit of President Paul Biya to France. A series of preparatory meetings at the French capital city are putting finishing touches on all that is necessary to ensure mutually beneficial results to the two countries. Given the depth and strength of relations between Cameroon and France and the personal chemistry between their two leaders, the visit is seen in Paris through the prism of a major political and economic event that will further cement close ties. Nothing is therefore being left to chance by the French authorities to ensure positive results from the friendly and working visit. The two-fold ramifications of the visit are political and economic. A tête-à-tête at the Elysée Presidential Palace between Paul Biya and François Hollande on Wednesday emerges as the highpoint of the visit. It will be the second time the two leaders will be meeting after the first meeting in Kinshasa last year. Judging from the level of preparations in Paris for this high-level meeting, the image of Cameroon and its highly respected leader resonates positively on the world stage. As a frontline African Statesman whose diplomacy of peace has made Cameroon an island of stability firmly placed on the rails of economic prosperity, President Paul Biya's visit is attracting positive echoes even before his arrival.

Economic agenda

On the economic front, the working visit has a loaded and ambitious agenda. As the first investor in Cameroon, France remains a vital vector in its economic development. Cameroon's strategy to attain the status of an emerging country by 2035 is inextricably linked to its economic partnership with France. The meeting between President Paul Biya and the French business community (MEDEF) next Thursday is seen in Paris as a vital opportunity to accelerate the quantity and quality of French investment in Cameroon. Since the beginning of 2012, the total amount of French loans and subventions to Cameroon are already hitting the three hundred and seven billion francs figure. Besides financing high-profile initiatives like the Lom Pangar Project, the French are involved in diverse projects of infrastructure, agriculture, animal husbandry, fishing and many others. The principal theme of the meeting between the Head of State and MEDEF is pegged on a durable economic partnership. The quality of French private sector personalities to exchange views with members of the Cameroon government accompanying the Head of State in the meeting is an indication of the results expected from this high-profile economic forum. The top management of numerous French companies operating in Cameroon (Rougier, CFAO, Bollore, Perenco, Total, Société Générale etc...) will be expected to give eye-witness accounts of the favourable business environment in Cameroon during this forum. Michel Roussin, Vice President of MEDEF International is expected to lead the French business community in the forum with the Cameroon authorities. Judging by the level of preparations, there are indications of a possible joint press briefing at the end of the forum by President Paul Biya and Michel Roussin.

Diaspora

The Cameroon diaspora under the leadership of Ambassador Mbella Mbella is also actively involved in ensuring a successful working visit of President Paul Biya to France. A meeting yesterday January 27, 2013 at the Cameroon Embassy in Paris, chaired by the ambassador strove to ensure that all is in place for a hitch-free visit. Last Thursday the ambassador granted a press briefing to sensitize the French public on the achievements of the Cameroon government in all areas of national life. Mobilization to positively accompany the working visit of the President Paul Biya to France is a major preoccupation by the diaspora. A heavy presence of the diaspora at the welcome ceremony at the Orly Airport is expected to demonstrate attachment to the institutions of their country and their leader. In song and dance, hundreds of Cameroonians resident in France are poised to show their patriotism and loyalty to a fatherland and the political and economic orientations of its leadership. At the Hotel Le Meurice at Rue de Rivoli in Paris, everything is in place to host their august guest. Cameroon is in the international limelight, with its positive image all intact.

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