columnBy Emmanuel Tataw
President Paul Biya had a busy schedule last Friday where he was at his best marketing the huge economic potentials of Cameroon to French political and economic heavyweights.
Friday was not just the fifth day of President Paul Biya's Working Visit to France, it was the longest working day since his arrival in Paris a week ago. The President put in at least five hours, granting audiences to seven high profile French political and economic dignitaries. Hotel Le Meurice and its Salon Pompadour in Paris provided the setting for President Paul Biya and his guest to renew contacts, draw up calendars and programmes of investments.
The first to be received in audience last Friday was Valery Giscard d'Estaing, former President of France. The close to one hour audience was a veritable kick-starter. Coming out of the audience, the former French President told reporters that their discussions centred around the bright future of Cameroon's economy, the situation in Africa and Europe's financial hiccups. There was obvious convergence of views on the option for peaceful resolution of conflicts, and support for the prompt and effective French action in Mali.
The second audience was granted to Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO. It was an occasion for her to applaud the relations between Cameroon and UNESCO in general and the huge contributions of Goodwill Ambassador, Chantal Biya, to the ideals of the organization. Irina Bokova disclosed that Yaounde will host the regional bureau of UNESCO for Africa. Claude Gueant, former French Minister of Interior was the third personality on the audience roster. Cameroon's economic development, the crisis in Mali and the French role were subjects discussed during the audience. At the heels of Claude Gueant, was the Director General of the French Development Agency (AFD), Dov Zerah. Given the front role of AFD in the economic prosperity of Cameroon, the audience took added depth and the overall examination of the multi-sectorial cooperation between Cameroon and France.
The pertinence of AFD in Cameroon, the examination of the numerous projects like the second bridge on the Wouri, the hydroelectric dam on the Sanaga and numerous other development ventures were on their menu of discussions. This audience ended the first segment of the day at about 14h. When the audience agenda resumed at 16h last Friday, it was with former French Minister, President of the national Council for diversity, Olivier Stirn. With a lot of projects earmarked for Cameroon in the area of agriculture, Olivier Stirn and his associates also have plans for an ultra modern hospital. The sixth audience of the day was granted to Alexandre Vilgrain, President of the French Council of harvesters in Africa.
He was accompanied by other French investors in Cameroon. The seventh and last audience of the day was granted to Bruno Lafont, the Chief Executive Officer of the Lafarge group that owns Cimencam in Cameroon. Some members of government accompanied the Head of State during some of the audiences. Given the depth and quality of discussions during the seven audiences granted by the Head of State and the satisfaction expressed by the guests, the Cameroon destination remains a top priority to investors.
With the most eloquent expression of the Cameroonian personality, the Statesman of universally acknowledge political savvy setting the agenda of discussions himself, success was the obvious result. Paul Biya remained true to himself, throughout the audience, motivated by the supreme interest of marching Cameroon peacefully towards prosperity and emergence.