Yaoundé — The director of the Economic Commission for Africa's Subregional Office for Central Africa (ECA/SRO-CA), Antonio Pedro, met with Cameroon's Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Henri Eyebe Ayissi, on Tuesday November 7 to discuss the operationalization of the Douala Consensus, which was adopted during the 33th meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts for Central Africa (ICE2017) in Douala.
The Douala Consensus is a document in which policymakers, industry captains and other stakeholders make the case for a paradigm shift from a 'resources for infrastructure' model to a 'resources for industrialization (R4ID) model.
The document notes the imperative to promote the "made in Central Africa" label; establish industrial zones and growth poles; accelerate the implementation of the AU's Boosting Intra-Africa Trade (BIAT) programme; focus on Central Africa's rich natural resources as basis for its industrialization; and re-enforce inter-sectoral coordination and public-private dialogue.
During their meeting, Mr. Pedro told the minister that the Douala Consensus was an "articulated response to the decisions taken by the CEMAC Heads of State Extraordinary Summit of 23 December 2016 to pursue economic diversification as a means to addressing macroeconomic instability in Central Africa."
The Summit had called on Central African countries to build stronger and more diversified economies in order to be more resilient to external shocks.
Mr. Pedro stated that growth diagnostic studies and value chain analysis could help Central Africa improve the investment readiness of its project portfolios.
The ECA official also briefed the minister on a number of issues including SRO-CA's current work programme; areas of potential collaboration between ECA and the ministry; a workshop on land administration recently held in Yaoundé; the Continental and Central African dialogues on preferential trade regimes as well the Cameroon STEPS profile, which is currently being finalized.
Mr. Pedro reaffirmed SRO-CA's commitment to assist the ministry whenever its expertise is required. He also congratulated Cameroon for its efforts to promote agribusiness and mobilise domestic finance, lauding the establishment of the Douala Stock Exchange as "a step in the right direction."
For his part, the minister praised ECA's policy influence and strategic thinking that played a key role in the design and adoption of the Douala Consensus. He reassured the ECA Director of his ministry's availability to collaborate with ECA, especially in the field of agricultural development.
The Cameroon minister informed Mr. Pedro of the 'General Agriculture and Livestock Census' - one of the major activities his ministry is currently carrying out - and of an upcoming roundtable on Agriculture Development in Cameroon to which ECA will be invited.
Mr. Ayissi stressed the importance of ECA's technical and/or financial support to enable his ministry take on the challenge of agriculture development in Cameroon, especially in the field of statistics.
The minister concluded his remarks by extended his "heartfelt congratulations and best wishes for continued success" to the newly appointed ECA Executive Secretary Ms. Vera Songwe.