The programme to revamp the textile sector is in place as government injects FCFA 5 billion into CICAM.
Talk of textile industry and minds will quickly run to Cotonnière industrielle du Cameroun [CICAM]. Having enjoyed local production and marketing monopoly for several decades, CICAM remains the country's pioneer and lone surviving textile industry.
But the turn of event masterminded by the entry into the market of foreign industries, notably from Asia has for the past three decades paralysed the long standing monopoly. CICAM which occupied 85 per cent of the local market in 1985, is said to have experienced a drastic drop to barely five percent by 2016.
According to authorities of the company, the real paralysis is not caused simply by the coming into the market of textile products from Asia but is worsened by the dilapidating and obsolete production equipment, some of which have never been replaced since the company was created in 1965.
The consequence has been rather disastrous as the company finds it difficult to face the market competition with equipment that are almost half a century old.
The situation is exacerbated by the absence of actors from the private sector in the production and marketing chain. Difficult to explain the lukewarm attitude in such a sector where demand has been growing almost exponentially.
In the face of this, Chinese textile products continue to invade the market. The government as well as other stakeholders will rather not allow this incongruity to continue.
Meeting in Yaounde last October, authorities of the Ministry of Trade, those of CICAM and other economic operators discussed how best to promote locally produced loincloth as a kicks starter in the whole process of boosting local production and scaling down invading foreign textile products.
According to Alain Romauld Ombede Nana, Centre Regional Delegate for Trade, all foreigners involved in the production and marketing of loincloth will henceforth obtain government approval in order to undertake their activities.
Other measures taken to better revamp the sector include: an inventory of all importers who are compelled to renew their licences every year, ensuring that importers declare their goods and finally, all foreign made loincloths will henceforth carry an insignia which must be obtained in strict respect of the procedures put in place by the administration.
Pending the entry into the business of other actors in the private sector, government took the decision to inject into CICAM FCFA five billion. The money will serve in the acquisition of modern and adapted production equipment, according to Nicolas Njoh, Commercial Director for CICAM. Some of the material has already been bought and installed in Garoua and Douala where new loincloth of higher quality are under production.
This initiative is certainly hope rekindling even though more still has to be done to trigger and clear the road for the private sector to get into the business in order to block the way for foreigners. Good enough that this is happening at the time the loincloth popularly known as wrapper, is fast regaining popularity in Africa and beyond.