The country’s linguistic, economic and cultural diversity constitute valuable assets for development, provided they are better harnessed, and comparative advantages given a chance.
Cameroon is a country of diversity par excellence. The culture of her people; with over 250 national languages, its varied landscape of plains, highlands and plateaux and its vegetation characterised by dense tropical rainforest in the South, various types of Savannah in the Centre and the Sahelian vegetation in the North coupled with varied economic potentials from North to South and East to West, arguably make Cameroon special within and without Africa.
As the country braces up for the 47th edition of her being together (National Day), these socio-cultural and economic diversities which constitute valuable assets for development beg for judicious utilisation to attain viable and sustainable growth for the citizens. Timely too as the 2019 festivities focus on, “Unity in diversity, a major asset of the Cameroonian people in their determined move towards emergence.” Materialising the theme is therefore imperative!
Let Comparative Advantage Prevail On Economic Potentials
Cameroon’s economic potentials are as diverse as her cultures and peoples. Varied agricultural produce, for instance, grow in different areas of the country and their yields largely depend on the landscape and vegetation. This too is an advantage worth maximising. It suffices therefore for stakeholders to know what can grow where and how. With this in mind, bolstered by in-depth agronomic research to give well adapted, high-yielding and pest-resistant seedlings, the battle against poor yields with all its nefarious effects could be won.
While it is economically advantageous to diversify production, it pays better, notably in a competitive world, to capitalise on what one can produce best. It would be folly to imagine that cereals, roots and tubers as well as other food and cash crops can grow anywhere in Cameroon the same way in terms of quality and quantity. Some areas are logically more adapted to the growth of certain crops than others. Allowing comparative advantage to prevail on the country’s economic potentials therefore gives room for specialisation and opens the floodgates for possible good harvest. And this is when the much-talked about industrialisation, which appears to have a magic wand for the cherished emergence dream, could succeed. Producing in industrial scale and locally adding value thereafter are what Cameroon needs to curb incessant imports which drain the State of huge and scarce liquidity. But infrastructure development (roads, telecoms, energy et al) must be indiscriminate.
With most economic analysts almost unanimous that the digital economy today promises a lot of jobs for the youth and women, the country cannot afford to be indifferent. Broadband needs to be faster in Cameroon, the cost of megabits needs to be cheaper and many more people need to have access to the digital economy. Working on the digital identity to ascertain that every citizen can participate should therefore be non-negotiable.
Making the Best of Linguistic, Cultural Diversity
It is difficult to have one country with a multitude of cultures like in Cameroon. Her over 250 ethnic groups with as many cultures, no doubt, make Cameroon Africa in miniature. Added to these cultural diversities are two official languages (English and French), inherited from the country’s colonial masters, which are incidentally the world’s widely used languages.
Instead of playing superior or inferior with these cultures and languages and struggling to unbind what history had joined together, Cameroonians need to humble themselves, accept each other the way they are and seek ways of building a more developed, inclusive and mutually-beneficial society for the present and future generations. This should be a legacy!