17 February 2013

Cameroon: President Biya's Visit to France - Communication Minister Presents Highlights

press release

Below is the statement of the Minister of Communication during the press conference of February 14, 2013.

Ladies and gentlemen,

"Allow me, on behalf of the government of the Republic, to thank you for your instant and massive response to this press briefing.

The purpose of our present meeting is on the recent working visit which the Head of State paid to France from January 28 to February 2, 2013 at the invitation of the President of the French Republic, H.E François Hollande.

A good range of government members, businessmen and representatives of Cameroon's employers were in the delegation of the Head of State's visit.

Upon his arrival on French soil, the President of the Republic, His Excellency Paul Biya, was cordially welcomed by French officials. This official reception was marked by the patriotic fervor demonstrated by an important Cameroonian community residing in France who overcame the throes of winter temperature in order to showcase its unwavering commitment to their Head of State.

The working visit of the Head of State was highlighted by three major phases:

The first phase, which took place on January 30, 2013 at the Elysee Palace, was related to a lengthy discussion between the Head of State of Cameroon and French President François Hollande.

The two Heads of State discussed issues of common interest and agreed on strengthening and consolidating bilateral cooperation between the two countries.

In the same occasion, the two Heads of State of Cameroon and French also discussed issues relating to peace and development in Africa and the need for concerted actions.

At the end of the audience, President Paul Biya straightforwardly answered questions from the international press, speaking with a perfect mastery of issues relating to:

- The protection and promotion of human rights in Cameroon;

- The ongoing debate on dual nationality;

- The debate on the legalization of homosexuality;

- Or the case of some compatriots at war with the law for embezzling public funds.

The second phase of the working visit of the president of the Republic of Cameroon in France was marked on January 31, 2013, by a meeting with representatives of French and Cameroon employers within the framework of the Cameroon-France Forum organized by MEDEF, under the theme "Cameroon-France, for a sustainable economic partnership."

This Forum was an opportunity to some government members and businessmen who were part of the official delegation of the President of the Republic to brief on certain issues as well as to have fruitful exchanges.

On this occasion;

The Minister of Economy, Planning and Regional Development mentioned the broad economic policy guidelines of Cameroon by recalling the performance of our country with a growth rate of 5,1% in 2012, that is an increase of 1%, in line with the objective set up by Cameroon to gain at least one (01) growth point every year.

This development, as the Minister of Economy, planning and Regional Development pointed out, is a result, among others, of the resurgence of oil production, the launching of major development projects and dynamism of other sectors such as agriculture or telecommunication.

The Minister of Economy, Planning and Regional Development however mentioned the need for the Cameroonian government to meet the challenges of agricultural mechanization, the creation of banks for SMSEs and agro-pastoral sector, as well as the facilitation of actions related to the creation of enterprises.

In the same vein, he mentioned the interest of professionalizing human resource trainings, and creating economic zones to expand opportunities in the private sector by improving the movement of people and goods at the sub-regional level.

Concluding his statement, the Minister of Economy, Planning and Regional Development reminded the French Employers that our country offers considerable advantages such as economy stability, peace or democracy which are reliable indications confirming that Cameroon is a good risk for French investors.

The Minister of Industry, Mines and Technological Development, on its part, presented the state of affairs and prospects of the mining and industrial cooperation with France.

Regarding the industrial sector, he mentioned the large number of French companies operating in Cameroon. This point was further developed in details by the President of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Handicraft.

Regarding the geological and mining sector, he mentioned the presence of the French company PERENCO, since twenty years, in the hydrocarbons, sectors, as well as the collaboration of the Geological and Mining Research Office known in its French acronym as BRGM for the admission of Cameroon into the Kimberley process which took place on August 2012.

Nevertheless, the Minister of Industry, Mines and Technological Development stated that this cooperation could be improved in respect of the concrete possibilities of both countries.

The communication of the Minister of Water and Energy Resources concentrated on the state of affairs and business opportunities in its field of work.

In this vein, he mentioned the legal framework governing this sector of activity and which offers many advantages for foreign investors, citing among others

- The law on the public/private partnership contract,

- The law on electricity

- And the gas code.

The minister of Water and Energy Resources then presented to French Employers the various major projects whose feasibility studies are already available and which need funds for their realization.

In addition, he informed the French employers the building of the Lom Pangar storage dam, Memvele'e and Mekin hydroelectric dams whose construction works are being carried out, or the Kribi gas-fired power plant whose construction works are over.

The Minister of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, Social Economy and Handicrafts, on its part, communicated on the following four major aspects: the support scheme to small and medium sized enterprises and small and medium sized industries before the 1986 economic crisis, the promotion policy of small and medium sized enterprises and industries, prospects and cooperation lines.

Regarding the support scheme to small and medium sized enterprises and industries before the 1986 economic crisis, the Minister deeply explained the major assistance programme to the creation, follow-up and financing of small and medium sized enterprises as well as the access policies to external trade.

Talking about the policy to promote small and medium sized enterprises and industries after the economic crisis, the concerned minister mainly stated the different reforms undertaken by the Head of State to alleviate poverty in the short, medium and long term.

Regarding the prospects and cooperation lines, the Minister of small and Medium-sized Enterprises, Social Economy and Handicrafts made important announcements, stating among others;

- The creation of a small and medium sized enterprises bank,

- The creation of "a nursery of public enterprises" to build home structures in certain towns offering premises and services suitable for the special needs of newly created enterprises or those still to be created.

- The creation of an Agency to promote small and medium sized enterprises,

- The setting up of a technical and financial support to small and medium sized enterprises mainly dealing with the transformation of local products of mass consumption.

In addition, on high instructions of the Head of State, the Minister of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, Social Economy and Handicrafts received in audience Mister François Turcas, president of the General Confederation of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises of the French Rhône region and chief of the second grouping of French enterprises. At the end of this audience, Mister Francios Turcas proposed to travel to Cameroon, in the second half of March this year, with a delegation of French businessmen to prospect and exchange with their Cameroonian counterparts on the possible cooperation sectors.

The Minister of Finance, answering questions from economic investors, reassured them, reminding that Cameroon, among others, respects the four convergence criteria of the CEMAC zone, proving the quality of its signature in the current context.

In addition, he mentioned that on-going and future actions are implemented to improve the business climate and attract foreign investments in Cameroon.

In the same vein, the Head of State himself instructed appropriate measures for the investment code to meet the expectations of investors.

The communication of the President of the Chamber of Commerce highlighted that if we have more than two hundred French enterprises based in Cameroon, 80% of them are big structures, and 20% are small and medium sized enterprises.

For a better management of this disparity, a subcontracting and partnership exchange has been set up with the support of ONUDI, the European Union and the Cameroonian government. This structure, placed under the mentorship of the Ministry of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, Social Economy and Handicrafts, acts as connector between big sized and small and medium sized enterprises. More concretely, it has to identify enterprises and assess their technical capacities in order to connect them for possible partnerships in the aim of subcontracting in the major development projects.

Communicating on the theme "Meeting the competitiveness and attractiveness challenge: for a business environment favourable to investment and the development of the private sector," the President of the GICAM insisted on two points:

First of all, he took stock on the business climate in Cameroon, talking about aspects relating to the dialogue between the public and private sectors.

Secondly, he communicated on the issue of financing economy through a careful review of bank activities in Cameroon, which are meant to play a key role to meet the economy competitiveness and attractiveness challenge.

This forum was closed up by the Head of State who, in his closing statement, lauded the quality of the partnership that our country has with France and the French businessmen, particularly through the actions of the French Development Agency, which successfully carried out the first Debt Relief and Development Contract, and encouraged the development of a second C2D.

In addition, in a substantiated and highly convincing methodological approach, President Paul Biya, as a strong Team Leader, remarkably presented the "Cameroon Enterprise" by referring to the efforts made in our country to improve the business environment, promoting good governance and the fight against corruption.

On the basis of these substantiated ideas, the Cameroonian Head of State called on French investors to get involved in a win-win partnership in the execution of projects in Cameroon under the following priority areas:

- Infrastructure;

- Education,

- Health,

- Governance

- The development of agricultural production, which aims to make our country the "breadbasket of Africa".

The third phase of the working visit of President Paul Biya in France was made up of a hand full of audiences granted on the one hand to key figures in the French political and economic landscape and to representatives of Cameroonian community residing in France on the other hand, notably:

Under Ladies:

- Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO;

- Clara Gaymard, President of French's General Electric;

- Patricia Balme of PM Com International,

Under Men:

- Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, former French President;

- Claude Gueant, former French minister of the Interior;

- Dov Zerah, Director General of the French Development Agency;

- Vilgrain Alexander, president of the French Council of Investors in Africa, accompanied by buinsessmen of the said council;

- Yannick Morillon, CEO of GEOCOTON, strategic partner of SODECOTON in Cameron;

- Vincent Bolloré, CEO of BOLLORE Group;

- Guillaume Giscard d'Estaing, CEO of SOFEMA Group;

- Hervé Bourges, chairman of the Standing Committee on Diversity at France Televisions.

Regarding the representatives of the Cameroonian community residing in France, President Paul Biya expressed his gratitude to this important Diaspora for their warm welcome on his arrival, while calling on them to continue being excellent Cameroon ambassadors in their home country.

The Head of State also reiterated his wish to see this pool of experts in making a decisive contribution to the implementation of the major achievements policy.

This is, Ladies and Gentlemen, a résumé of the intense activity which marked the recent visit of the President of the Republic in France. A visit, which permitted, on the one hand to our Head of State and his French counterpart to recall the excellent relationship between our country and its historical partner, and on the other hand to present to French businessmen the significant developments and the economic prospects of Cameroon to bring these businessmen to be involved, for a reciprocal benefit, in the realization of the greater achievements of our President of the Republic, His Excellency Paul Biya.

Thank you for your kind attention."

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