Cameroon has been the most resistant to economic shocks, compared to her CEMAC neighbours, but accelerating economic diversification remains primordial.
The last few years have not been friendly, economic wise, to most sub-Saharan African countries, Cameroon inclusive. The persistent drop in global commodity prices and the continuous fall in the cost per barrel of petroleum products have left countries which deepen mostly on these for their export earnings in a tight corner.
Cameroon’s own shock has even been compounded by increased spending to contend Boko Haram insurgents, the socio-political crisis in the North West and South West Regions and the influx of refugees from Nigeria and the Central African Republic.
Yet, despite the multiple shocks, Cameroon has been steadily riding on jerky rails, and has not derailed. In December 2017, the Resident Representative of the IMF in Cameroon, Kadima Kalonji, said Cameroon has been more resilient than the other CEMAC countries because of its economic diversification. As valid as the assessment appears to be, government hasn’t slept on its laurels.
Government is conscious of the negative impact the adverse economic situation has created on the country’s economic growth and social progress. The Head of State, President Paul Biya had called on the government to draft the 2018 budget in such a way that it will promote inclusive economic growth, and create decent jobs in order to ameliorate the social status and living conditions of citizens.
This is why the 2018 annual conference of officials of central and external services of the Ministry of the Economy, Planning and Regional Development is focused on “accelerating economic diversification for strong and sustainable growth.”
Economic performance analysts are generally of the stand that economic diversification, like the one Cameroon is bent on pursuing, is sacrosanct as fluctuation and crashes in one form of investment or the other are inevitable.
Once Cameroon’s economy will be fully diversified, it will automatically put in place a sustainable cycle of economic activity where businesses continually feed off of one another and grow larger as the economy grows. As more and more businesses open their doors, it will lead to the growth of supporting industries.
As the country’s economy will become diversified; flexible and not fixed, it will enable the country in the years to come to achieve a growth rate of at least 7 per cent which will let the country attain its vision of becoming an emerging economy by 2035.
Cameroon has already learned her lessons and like the mantra holds, she can’t continue putting her eggs in one basket. It will develop immunity and a thick skin to the rough economic wind that is blowing across the globe.