By Pius NYUYLIME, Cameroon Tribune
The influx of investors epitomised by the medley of Memorandums of Understand tells of Cameroon, a country, one is tempted to describe as the best risk to do business. If figures were something to go by, the Ministry of the Economy and Regional Development is saying that the country’s economy is fairing relatively well. In a document titled, "Focus on Cameroon's Economy," MINEPAT notes that, "National economy has increased at an average of 4.7 per cent during the last five years (2010-2014.)",even though the growth falls below the projections of the long-term development plan contained in the Growth and Employment Strategy Paper whose target was to attain an annual 5.5 per cent average economic growth rate between 2010 and2020. As stated by Christine Lagarde, the Managing Director of the IMF during her recent visit to Cameroon, “with a real growth rate of nearly 6 per cent and weak inflation, the country is taking necessary measures to ensure macroeconomic stability and promote strong and inclusive growth.”
The growing interest in investing in Cameroon is considered by the administration as a real challenge to open up to the private sector which holds the key to real investment in the country. The government seems to be aware of this and this explains why several reforms have been initiated to attract private investment. Some of the reforms include: the April 18, 2013 law on private investment incentives in Cameroon, the 2013 law governing economic zones in the country and the regular holding of the Cameroon Business Forum, a platform for public/private dialogue on improving the business climate. The creation and rendering operational of the bank for small and medium-size enterprises and the launching in 2013 of Leasing, a mechanism to equip enterprises, are said to be steps in the right direction. And as faith will have it, some 44 new companies obtained licences from government, with some immediately going into production. They took the engagement to inject FCFA 698 billion into the economy generating over 23,000 jobs.
The institution of the annual meeting between the private and public sectors within the framework of the Cameroon Business Forum remains one of the major reforms that can propel investment in the country. In order to ensure its success, a follow up and evaluation committee was created. The 7th edition organised in Douala in February was occasion to enhance reforms and to above all to size up the need to communicate the country’s economic attractiveness. In effect, according to organisers, since 2010 when the CBF saw the light of day, over 120 reforms have gone effective indicating an average of 20 reforms every year. That notwithstanding, these reforms do not seem to seduce international analysts. This state of affairs is quite disturbing and does not only demand the readjustment and deepening of reforms but their effective implementation.
The real issue about cleansing the business climate is how best to overcome the obstacles on the ground. What makes the business climate so cloudy even though good laws exist is the persistence in corrupt practices, an ailment that has completely polluted the business environment. It has unfortunately penetrated all sectors including taxation, customs and justice departments. Any investor coming into Cameroon gets disturbed by the inconsistent electricity and water supply, high cost of communication and poor transportation facilities.