It is a truism that Cameroon’s economy has comparatively been resilient in the face of global economic quagmire orchestrated by a drop in commodity prices, notably crude oil. Proof is that although Gross Domestic Product has been fluctuating over the years, it hasn’t gone negative like in some countries of the sub region. As good as this may sound, it doesn’t however call for chest-beating for, challenges are huge! Noticeably, President Paul Biya is bracing up to go beyond simply keeping the economy above the troubled waters.
For such a scenario would mean striving to barely stay afloat whereas attaining already clearly-defined development objectives requires a sustainably robust economy, fully bouncing in all its facets. Attaining a middle-income economy status which Cameroon is projecting by 2035 needs a double-digit growth rate over decades. In his inaugural speech Tuesday November 6, 2018 at the National Assembly soon after taking the oath of office, the Head of State opined, “…I think it is worthwhile for us to strive to develop the sectors of our economy that could significantly reduce our imports of goods and services.
Such policy will have the advantage of enabling us to balance our chronic trade deficit.” A veritable wakeup call from above for concerted action by all and sundry! Obviously so as an economy that aspires to boom should be a producing one in both quality and quantity. A country that imports to eat, for instance, can hardly withstand any slightest wind. Cameroon therefore needs to revamp her production in all growth-induced sectors in both quality and quantity.
Without being exhaustive, the sectors that have the propensity to reduce the country’s imports range from agriculture passing through energy to manufacturing. It is inconceivable that the country continually spends billions of scarce FCFA for the import of rice, fish, maize and other products of high consumption whereas potentials to boost local production are not in short supply. Vast and fertile arable land is spread across the country from North to South and East to West. The country is equally blessed with friendly climate that favours the cultivation of diverse crops.
There are equally energy-production potentials in both hydro, thermal and other sources. Successfully producing these in huge quantities and quality would not only ensure sufficient consumption at home but would as well pave the way for fruitful export. Cameroon is a junction country in the sub region and her products would find a ready market in the other countries within and without the central African sub region. Once export produce are made in huge quantities, unquestionable quality and competitive packaging, they can easily conquer the national and international market to fetch much-needed foreign earnings for the economy to boom.
Cameroon is equally blessed with fine wood species that are unfortunately exported as logs. There is very little local processing. Reason why the country imports items as basic as toothpick. Like agriculture, whose produce need local processing to add value therein, the country’s huge forest resources absolutely need to be valorised. First, second and even third processing are needed. Else, she continually serves as source of cheap raw materials for other economies and a consumer, sometimes at cutthroat prices, of semi or finished goods.
Stakeholders would need to go beyond speeches and develop innovative approaches to revamp quantity and quality production in these and other sectors. Good use could be made of agronomic research and popularisation of results as well as reducing cumbersome agro-pastoral activities to attract many people, especially the youth with their agility and know-how. It is time to engage industrial production of all that Cameroon has comparative advantages in and ensure an accrued manufacturing of finished products from the produce.