10 January 2019

Cameroon: Erasing the Dogma of Dependency

Experts have often said it; no economy in the World is an island but the same experts go further to admit that too much dependency kills an economy. In his New Year wishes address to members of the diplomatic Corps at the Unity Palace in response to the latter's new year wishes speech, yesterday, 9th January, President Paul Biya came back on this burning issue which he already raised during his end-ofyear address to the nation on 31st December.

If the Head of State is hammering so much on this point, it is certainly because the country stands the chance of paying a heavy price for depending so much on the outside World, notably, the Western nations for its economic progress. As the saying goes, Cameroon has the tendency of producing what it doesn't consume and consuming what it doesn't produce.

Logically speaking, Cameroon consumes what it produces but which has been processed by others. This makes the situation more complicated in that, what has been produced here and processed elsewhere comes back; in principle more costly. As a country that is entering the final lap of its bid to attain emergence, dependency becomes a serious economic enemy. "For a country like Cameroon that exports raw materials whose prices are determined on foreign markets, it would no doubt be indispensable, as I have often said, to reduce its dependence on the outside world", President Biya said. What strategy must then be put in place to fight this ill, is what President Biya has been trying to size out. According to him, " it will be necessary to carry out initial processing of its products, develop the industrial sector to reduce imports, stimulate trade which is still clearly insufficient within regional groupings and explore new markets in the rest of the world."

Whatever the circumstances, President Biya told diplomats that Cameroon will "strive as much as possible to develop its trade with its traditional partners of the European Union and pursue an active policy of economic cooperation with China, where I travelled to last March on a State visit and in September to attend the ChinaAfrica Cooperation Forum." As he pointed out in his earlier speech to the nation on 31st December, major issues to tackle in the whole process of attaining emergence where dependency must be eschewed, include: restoring security, enhancing economic growth and significantly improving the living conditions of the population. For these to be translated from hypothetical thinking to practical implementation, all hands must be put on deck, reason why he considers this as a "national cause."

This, in effect, entails getting all sectors on board. Industrial development for instance is not only an affair of the government alone. It takes two to tango. In most industrialised societies, this sector is first an affair of private enterprises. Government comes in simply to regulate and ensure their growth and protection. It takes a lot of sacrifice for countries that have been breathing under the weight of colonialism to free themselves from foreign dependency. In effect, foreign dependency generally fosters underdevelopment in the dependent country.

The adoption of policies tailored to the interests of a stronger country may inhibit the weaker country's domestic growth, speed environmental destruction, or create temporary growth that precludes sustainable development and economic independence. Some experts regard foreign dependency as an extension of colonial trade patterns. These often concern former colonies whose economies were focused on the production of raw materials destined for the manufacturing industries of their colonial masters. Cameroon is yearning not to continue to be part of this diabolic economic arrangement but coming out of it requires real commitment. LUKONG

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