Cameroon: 'The Selection of Cameroon Did Not Happen By Chance'

interview

Why did you choose Cameroon to host the regional office of Afreximbank?

The selection of Cameroon did not happen by chance. They was a competitive process. That is always the process we use in selecting our regional offices. They were many criteria that were used in determining the preferred location. That is the process that was followed and Yaounde was selected as the preferred site for the Central Africa bank office. The factors cover so many things, including economics, wellbeing of staff, communication with the rest of the region and so on and so forth. After scoring all these factors very independently, they normally arrived to the preferred choice. That is how Yaounde was selected.

You announced the opening of a 500 million US dollars line of credit to facilitate trade in Central Africa. When will the first credits be granted?

We have trade lines of about 85 million dollars existing today. Our goal is to raise it to 500 million US dollars (approximately FCFA 300 billion) and bring on board more banks in the markets of CEMAC. I can assure you from next week (implying from today September 27, 2021), business can be done from the branch office here in Yaounde. We have the initial start-up staff, so we expect that business can be handled as early as next week.

You arrived Cameroon during a context where access to credit is difficult for SMEs hit hard by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. What solutions do you intend to bring to these companies?

Concerning SMEs, what we have done is to find ways of making it possible for the continent to recover very quickly from Covid-19. And one of the ways we have done this is to increase our lines of credit to banks in the region. Because we know that the banks in the region have long relationships with some institutions. However, we have launched a SMEs incubation unit. The SMEs unit is intended for us to be able to intervene directly with SMEs in different countries including Cameroon. With the office we now have, we would be able to collaborate with some of the SMEs and begin to offer our services to them. We have also introduced factories. It's a very good way of supporting SMEs without asking them for collateral. Through the factory product, we are also interested in deepening this in the Cameroonian market and within the Central Africa region as we are doing in some other parts of the world. And by using this product, we are going to also integrate SMEs in regional supplier chains.

How many Cameroonians will be employed in this regional office?

When we are in a country, we use the resources in these countries. Whereas, the job would not be exclusively for Cameroonians, but we can imagine that a significant number of the people working in the office will be Cameroonians and other people for the Central Africa region. This is because they best understand the market than any external person. We have created branches in other part of Africa, and that is the principle. The reason we are closer here is to make sure that we relate more with market where the regional offices are located.

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