Prof Laurent Serge Etoundi Ngoa, Minister of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, Handicraft and Social Economy
We are in the sixth edition of this event. Do you think it is worth having more editions?
Yes, of course. The International Handicraft Exhibition of Cameroon only gets better edition by edition. During this sixth edition we had participants from at least 15 nationalities with 82 craftsmen. The number of participating countries is less than the one we had in 2016. But we had larger delegations and that is what we need. They came to do business with Cameroonians and guests from other African countries and worldwide. We had participants from Burkina Faso, Senegal, Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, India, and Pakistan and so on. We have never had this remarkable turn out since we started organizing this event. We had more than 1, 000 crafts men and women. I guess they had good deals, though they would tell you things are moving slow without telling you what they have earned. That is typical of crafts men and women. But generally, the exhibitors say they are satisfied. We are motivated to continue.
Besides exhibitions, what other support does government provide for craftsmen?
We have many things we are doing to support craft men and women in Cameroon. We are building national handicraft centers nationwide; we provide assistance to the best exhibitors to travel abroad for exhibitions. We also have the SMEs bank as well as the SMEs promotion agency that provide support to those who have formalized their businesses. Local councils are also doing a great job as we have seen more and more craftsmen formalize their businesses. This has led to an improvement of their works and we are confident that they will keep improving.
What are the projections for the future?
We believe the next editions will be held in a more conducive environment. We are planning to enlarge the thematic sessions and we will also have innovations. The quality of presentations will also be better, hopefully. There were improvements this year in terms of organization and products and we foresee the same for the next edition. You know this edition was held in a difficult economic environment. Only one country in the CEMAC region was represented at the exhibition; the Central African Republic. That is an indication that times are hard for us in the region. But we succeeded in hosting the event. The Head of State gave firm instructions that everything should go on smoothly, and we ensured the strict respect of his directives. We are optimistic for the future.
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