21 March 2018

Cameroon: Remarkable Chinese Presence in Cameroon

In about 47 years of cooperation with Cameroon, the Asian giant is among the highest financiers of development ventures here, providing funding and expertise for most projects.

Since establishing diplomatic relations on 26 March 1971, cooperation between the Republic of Cameroon and the People's Republic of China has been heading for the skies with win-win ventures growing by the day.

Leaders have succeeded each other in either of the countries and their policy of openness has been translated into visible mutually-beneficial diplomatic, economic and people-to-people relations.

The long-standing Sino-Cameroon cooperation is legally-binding on already penned several agreements consisting technical, cultural, medical, trade and tourism cooperation. Protocols for military training, promotion and mutual protection of investments, political consultations as well as the reciprocal exemption from visa requirement for holders of diplomatic or service passports also exist.

This shows the desire of the two countries under their visionary Heads of State, with clearly-identified development visions, to continually make life better for citizens.

Besides uncountable donations of equipment and subsidies alongside numerous investment-friendly loans, the world's most populous nation (1.379 billion inhabitants - 2016 statistics) is a household name in all nooks and crannies of Cameroon with diverse realisations to show.

Talk of China and Cameroonians will quickly think of the imposing Conference Centre and multipurpose Sports Complex in Yaounde, state-of-the-art Kribi Deep Seaport in the Ocean Division of the South Region. Chinese are everywhere in Cameroon and doing everything.

The dynamic people of China, whose foreign policy curiously hinges on the 'non-interference in the internal affairs of partner countries," is one, if not the highest, financiers of Cameroon's economy. She dishes out preferential loans and accompanies the country with world-class expertise in the execution of development projects.

Hydroelectricity dams under construction or rehabilitation across the country, ongoing construction of express roads and the embellishment of the country's industrial fabric are the handy works of China.

That China is currently Cameroon's largest trading partner and Cameroon is second largest African recipient of Chinese funding lends credence to how well relations between the two brotherly nations have gone. It is equally a pointer to how far they can still go especially with the Chinese vision that when you want to go fast, you go alone but to go far, you go with others.

Little wonder UNCTAD statistics show that between 2000 and 2014, Cameroon benefitted from FCFA 2,750 billion of foreign direct investment with FCFA 1,850 billion coming from China. Mathematically, this represents about 67 per cent of foreign direct investment, making China the first investor in Cameroon.

The three-day official visit of Cameroon's Head of State (March 22-24) to Beijing is therefore a rare opportunity for him and host Chinese President Xi Jinping to oil the mutually-beneficial ties and scan fresh opportunities to take it to higher heights. As a second largest economy in the world, China is undeniably a strategic partner to Cameroon's 2035 development vision.

The fast pace with which Chinese investments are growing in Cameroon would certainly receive fresh impetus after the visit given the timing and stakes and challenges at hand. President Paul Biya, whose country has already negotiated an irreversible bend in giving her a middle-income economy status, will be the first foreign President and African Head of State to be received in China by the freshly re-elected Chinese leader, Xi Jinping.

Joint sessions of the National People's Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) recently renewed President Xi Jinping's mandate for a second term in office. A new era of Sino-Cameroon ties may thus be near dawn with the historic visit.

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