Controversies surrounding the continuous publication of the World Bank’s annual rating of some economies on the ease of doing business therein; call it, World Bank Doing Business Report, shouldn’t in anyway hold back the clock for economies aspiring for better days ahead like Cameroon. The report no doubt has for over the years been a prominent barometer reading for potential investors to decide where to ‘risk’ their hard-earned money. But other indicators do exist through which investors can x-ray a country’s business friendliness.
Even if the World Bank’s Doing Business Reports were to be finally halted, the criteria they used in evaluating performances of the surveyed economies are known to all. Starting a business, getting required loans, ease with acquiring building permits, getting electricity, registering property as well as protecting minority investors are universal indicators which investors would always want to verify before choosing a country to invest in.
Cameroon therefore has the uphill task to pursue reforms to better her business environment. With or without the World Bank Doing Business Report, the country will always need viable and sustainable investors especially direct foreign investors to realise already outlined growth objectives. Attaining a middle-income economy status as Cameroon aspires, requires sustainable double-digit growth rate for over years. What powers an economy to such a prestigious position is not how well its leaders can talk but rather its ability to create jobs and generate wealth. It is common knowledge here that government cannot do it all alone.
Creating an enabling environment for the private sector to confidently come in for win-win partnerships is thus absolutely necessary. Public authorities should come to the understanding that the country’s economy is like a tourist site which must possess all attractiveness and be well known for visitors. Cameroon is just one country in Africa among 53 others and must have the comparative advantage over others to hope for better investments. Business people are not philanthropists. They put their money where risk margins are minimal and where they can minimise cost to maximise profits. Mere talk alone wouldn’t guarantee this for them.
Cameroon may pride herself of making strides in starting a business and or acquiring credit to run the business, but once other conditions are not fully in place to ascertain the fruition of the business, the probability that the slightest wind blows it away becomes higher. The absence of adequate energy to power industries, continuous suffering to acquire land titles and building permits, the near inexistence of industrial zones, surging corruption and controversy over the judicial system’s ability to indiscriminately protect minority investors still constitute serious impediments. In fact, these worries make the business climate hostile for investors.
Government therefore needs to redouble efforts in these and other areas to polish up the very important investment indicators. Success requires that actors move from political grandstanding to real action on the field. The public-private platform: Cameroon Business Forum, which has been going on over the years should go beyond simply respecting traditional dates. Sincerity should be made to prevail and timeliness set for recommendations.