Diversifying Cameroon's Economy: Vera Songwe Gives Suggestions


The visiting Under Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa held talks with President Paul Biya at the State House on April 18, 2019 during which she was decorated with a Grand Officer of the Order of Valour Medal

Cameroonian-born Vera Songwe, Under Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa, has saluted the resilience of Cameroon’s economy in the face of global challenges but believes the country could reap better fruits were she to maximize multiple opportunities especially in the field of digital economy. She spoke to the press on Thursday April 18, 2019 after holding talks with President Paul Biya at Unity Palace.

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On the focus of the over one and half hour discussions, the UN Senior official disclosed that they spoke at length about the digital economy. She underscored that the digital economy today promises a lot of jobs for the youth and women. “We believe Cameroon can be a strong leader. We talked about Buea Mountain and all the innovations that are coming under the young kids from Buea that are now known worldwide.” Vera Songwe said.

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On what could be done, she suggested, “Broadband needs to be faster in Cameroon, the cost of me gabits needs to be cheaper and many more people need to have access to the digital economy so that Cameroon can reach emergence. And I think the government is committed to work on the digital identity to ensure that every Cameroonian has an identity and can participate.” The visiting UN executive told the press that Cameroon’s economy is growing today at about 3.5 to 4 per cent but government needs to redouble efforts for the economy to grow at about 10 per cent if she wants to reach the kind of emergence being talked about. “We believe that Cameroon can. Cameroon is a diversified economy and so we can build on that. We were able to show to the Head of State the different areas in which Cameroon’s economy is competitive and can improve on its competitiveness,” she noted.

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The Cameroonian-born used the audience granted her by President Paul Biya to also salute the Head of State and the government of Cameroon for hospitality shown the organisation (the UN Economic Commission for Africa has its headquarters in Yaounde) and for ensuring that the United Nations family globally is working in close collaboration with the sub region.

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She said they also talked of the Continental Free Trade Agreement, a Signature African Agreement from the African Union as part of Agenda 2063 that ensures that no African country is left behind as the continent grows. She observed; “We believe that because Cameroon is such an important economy for Central Africa, when we look at the overall region both in terms of peace and stability, I think the Continental Free Trade Agreement is an important part of the cohesion to reach emergence.”

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Other countries, Vera Songwe disclosed, will be celebrating the ratification of the agreement in July and the UN, she added, encourages the government of Cameroon to join the party and also to ratify the Continental Free Trade Agreement. “Finally, we talked about the importance of regional integration, climate change and the peace, security and development agenda. We have a couple of zones today that are struggling with climate change, Lake Chad is one of them.

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The UN Secretary General and most of us are working on how we can ensure that there is a little bit more development there,” she underscored. The State House audience had all the grandeur – red carpet rolled for her accompanied by all the military honours reserved for guests of her standing. She was welcomed on arrival by the Minister, Director of the Civil Cabinet of the Presidency of the Republic, Samuel Mvondo Ayolo, ushered to the third-floor office of the Head of State by the Chief of the State Protocol and at term decorated with a Grand Officer of the Order of Valour Medal by the Head of State.

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