The port of Douala has been the region’s most important port and the new installations at Kribi will he port of Douala has been the region’s most important port and the new installations at Kribi will growing population, it needs
to set ambitious targets. Its medium- and long-term plans are dependent on an average growth rate of 6%.
Economic indicators are good but they need to improve if Cameroon is to achieve its goals. It has achieved solid economic growth in difficult global economic conditions (mid to high 5% growth) but there is plenty of space to do better.
The business environment, despite being one of the most dynamic in the country, has been held back by excessive bureaucracy, hence its low rankings in the World Bank’s Doing Business reports. The government has started to tackle the bottlenecks to make it an easier place to do business and invest. Conditions have always been favourable for foreign investors; they are given the red carpet treatment and preferential arrangements.
FDI has seen considerable year-on-year growth –from
$300m in 2013 to over $500m
in 2014. There has always been
a conscious effort to reach out
to international partners, and Cameroon has intelligently positioned itself as a friend to all, keeping all diplomatic ties open. It enjoys a longstanding relationship with France, but it has nurtured strong ties with other partners. It is an integral member of the Commonwealth, and the President has cultivated strong ties with partners in Asia as well as other growing emerging markets such as Turkey.
In March, the Italian President made a state visit to the country accompanied by a business delegation. Italian companies are already present in construction, infrastructure and transportation.
There are massive opportunities in the energy sector. Energy access is at the heart of government industrial policy, and after the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia, Cameroon has the third-biggest hydroelectric potential in Africa, enough to supply its own energy needs and that of the sub-region.
Cameroon’s tech hub
The country today faces a challenge common to many
of its peers: creating jobs and ensuring that growth is evenly distributed amongst social classes and throughout the country. The real drivers of growth will have to come from within and new measures have been put in place to encourage entrepreneurship and the growth of SMEs.
These face the same hurdles as elsewhere, notably access to finance and excessive red tape. The government has tackled some of the problems by providing guarantees and tools to increase funding to smaller businesses and is investing significantly in increasing transport links through road and rail networks to connect the main arteries and ports.
The country has a comparative advantage in its educated workforce. We see this in the capital of the Southwest Region, Buea, which is not only an important agricultural centre but has been dubbed the tech hub of the country. A number of tech startups have emerged. This is in part thanks to the university in the city, where irrespective of what you study, courses in entrepreneurship are mandatory. In an interview with the BBC, the vice dean of the university, Doriane Tiako, put it succinctly when she said that their objective was for their graduates to be job creators rather than job seekers.
As the service industry starts to play an increasingly important role in the country, creating a dynamic and globally competitive service industry will be key to meeting its economic goal of being an emerging economy by 2035.
A MARITIME HUB:
THE DEEPWATER PORT IN KRIBI
One of Cameroon’s most important projects in recent years has been
the development of the deepwater Kribi port. Last year, a number of international groups bid for the management of the port, which
is expected to become the most important deepwater port of the region.
The concession for the container terminal was granted last year to a consortium consisting of Bolloré Africa Logistics, the shipowners CMA CGM and the Chinese engineering and public works group China Harbour Engineering Company
(CHEC). The first ships are expected to dock in the next few weeks.
Earlier this year, Cameroon’s finance minister, Louis-Paul Motazé, said the port of Kribi would be open to maritime traffic in June.
Much is expected of this port, not least because of the hype around it. As the only deepwater port in the region, it is expected to play the role of a real commercial hub, as well as taking up the slack and relieving Douala of the congestion that is often experienced there.
Kribi will be positioned as a
“transhipment hub”. The consortium who were given the concession promised that the port will provide the region with new logistics routes. This is because of the integrated solution that the port will provide, thanks to direct connections between the port of Kribi and the railway and the road network.
The port of Kribi, with a depth of 15 metres and direct access to the sea, will enable Cameroon to accommodate large vessels carrying up to 8,000 containers.
Located in the heart of the Gulf of Guinea, the nerve centre of maritime traffic, Kribi has stirred up a lot of interest.
To satisfy this interest, the Cameroonian government has put in place a legal and regulatory framework governing activities in the port, and has also signed agreements to involve a large number of companies.
There are also plans to build an industrial complex around the port.