5.06.2016

Urban Development: A Flourishing Sector For Investors

By Richard KWANG, Cameroon Tribune 
Résultat de recherche d'images pour "Urban Development: A Flourishing Sector For Investors"Following President Paul Biya’s decision to convene investors in Cameroon from 17-18 May 2016 to discuss business opportunities in the country, there have been speculations about available offers. One such sector that remains fertile for business ventures is urban planning.

Data from the last population
and housing census in the country present such challenging results that any investors who eye the urban development milieu could be in for brisk business, given that the demand is real and palpable. For instance, the 2005 General Census of the urban population of Cameroon was 8,514,938 inhabitants, against 2,184,242 in 1976 and 3,968,919 in 1987. “The urban population has increased almost by four-fold between 1976 and 2005, while the national population multiplied only by 2 in the same period, and then to 4.6 between 1976 and 2010.”

This means that the urbanization rate in the country witnessed a strong and steady increase between 2005 and 2010. Thus, in January 2010, towns were home to 10,091,172 out of the 19,406,100 inhabitants in the country, the census results indicated, while noting that the urbanization rate increased from 28.5% in 1976 to 37.8% in 1987, 48.8% in 2005 and 52% in 2010.
Such facts justify the growing demand for public space, roads, housing and leisure places that are absent in most, if not all major towns across the country. Going by the number of people every morning in the capital city, Yaounde who do keep-fit jogging on the streets, the increasing presence of young men on rough terrain playing football and other sport activities that the people carry out almost everywhere, the message is clear that most people lack where to exercise.
The habit of taking out families for dinner and other relaxation treats may not be common in most towns in Cameroon, but the real reason for the absence could be the nonexistence of befitting infrastructure that could lure people. The initiatives by the Yaounde City Council have, for the most part, not gone without visiting – an indication that people want such leisure places. Extending efforts of this nature to other towns could not only be salutary, but serve as an asset to any investor.
It is inconceivable that a country like Cameroon virtually has no cinema hall today since the likes of cinema Le Mfoundi, Abbia and others in Yaounde as well as those in other parts of the country ran out of business. In the 1970s and early 80s, such structures existed and were sources of relief for many who wanted moments of relaxation either in groups of friends, families and otherwise. This is no longer the case today. Such void could call for feasibility studies before investments, but it is evident that city centres in Cameroon are in dire need of leisure spots. The Yaounde gathering should offer the chance for many to grab such opportunities in the country.
Moreover, in spite of efforts by the household refuse disposal outfit in the country, there continues to be problems of processing and of late, the debate in the country has been on how best to transform the refuse into marketable products. Thus, issues like garbage disposal, rain water drainage, sewage disposal, drinking water, access to electricity, parks, gardens and other entertainment areas, continue to attract attention and investors have much benefits to make in these sectors.
Others might think that such social facilities are visible in Yaounde and Douala to an extent, but they are not found in other towns. Indeed, President Paul Biya has not made any secret of his determination to improve the welfare of the population. It therefore appears logical inviting business persons to take advantage of opportunities in the country in order to enable him deliver on his promises. Consequently, there is no way the creation of attractive public utilities in urban areas can be ignored.
Thus, there are lots of possibilities for investments in most major towns in the country, especially in terms of road and leisure infrastructure. Government’s Contingency Three-year Development Plan which is mid-way its realisation, now places much emphasis on roads, among other issues. Farm-to-market roads and access roads in towns have in the past decades been a real challenge to the State and it should be a welcome relief for the President of the Republic to see investors gladly take advantage of such sectors and make Cameroon the attraction that everybody wants it to be.

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