21 February 2018

Cameroon: Concrete Results Awaited

Public and private sector actors in the country are meeting in Douala since yesterday to seek ways of deepening their partnership for a better and sustainable diversification of the national economy.

The conclave, piloted by the Minister of the Economy, Planning and Regional Development, aims at sharing strategic orientations on fostering economic diversification, economic consciousness, increase production and substantial local processing of produce.

Good vision indeed given the challenges the national economy is going through owing to dwindling performances of commodity products on the global market. Relying on a few products is therefore suicidal, especially for an economy like that of Cameroon, which seeks to emerge within an already identified timeframe.

Further still, concentrating all attention on government can at times be counter-productive especially in a free economy like ours.

Getting the private sector on board, like government is doing, augurs well for efficiency and sustainability. They who are job creators and wealth generators and have the propensity, in win-win partnership, to explore and invest in growth-induced sectors for mutual good. What is however unconceivable is the fact that the ongoing Douala meeting is one in many that have been holding in the country with little to show in terms of palpable fruits.

While public authorities continually refer to private sector actors as strategic development partners, the latter seems to see all but the numerous investment opportunities the country offers.

Government has been multiplying efforts to get the private sector on board the development train. For instance, there is the July 12, 2017 law to amend and supplement some provisions of the April 18, 2013 law to lay down private investment incentives in the Republic of Cameroon. The legal instrument has huge fiscal and administrative benefits to be tapped by investors both in the short, medium and long terms.

There is equally the yearly holding of Cameroon Business Forum, a platform for public/private in-depth reflection and proposals on how to improve the business climate.

The 8th session of the forum held in Douala on March 13, 2017 under the auspices of the Prime Minister, Head of Government and preparations are underway for the 9th edition in the days ahead. Added to all these are several Memoranda of Understanding reached between government and potential private sector investors.

Yet, concrete results are still scarce. It doesn't therefore require a soothsayer to decipher that there is a loophole somewhere. Business people are not philanthropists and 'risking' their scarce liquidity somewhere means chances of fruition are at least above average.

Meeting just to be seen to be working can be helpful for the archives but what the country needs most is concrete results on the field. This is through substantial business creation capable of fashioning jobs for the unemployed and underemployed citizens as well as wealth generation.

Cameroon needs sizeable private sector investments, especially direct foreign investments, to power the economy to a middle-income status. Only concrete results from meetings like that ongoing in Douala can realise the lofty dream. Walking the long talk is thus indispensable!


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