Years and months have gone by, drawing Cameroon and Cameroonians closer to the dream of changing their economic status. 2018 is history and as 2019 begins, the route to becoming a middle-income economy, call it ‘Emergence,’ as wished by President Paul Biya, is increasingly becoming shorter. Mathematically, 16 years separate 2019 from the magic 2035. 16 years might look far enough to strike a good balance capable of ascertaining the attainment of the hope-raising status.
But in the world of uncertainty, coupled with the global economic fluctuations which have not left Cameroon indifferent, concreate actions must be taken now to get on board all that is needed to drive the economy to emergence. For, time waits for no one! Conscious of the challenge of getting the dream realised, President Paul Biya, in his state-of-the nation address on December 31, 2018 once again reminded his fellow compatriots of the necessity to accelerate the growth rate of the economy. The Head of State said, “Our economy is gradually recovering thanks to measures we have taken. However, we will have to redouble our efforts to stay on the path of emergence.”
Understandably so as attaining a middle-income economy status, among others, requires a robust and sustainable double-digit economic growth rate over decades. In fact, the growth rate vis-à vis the size of the population has to be substantial. Cameroon has stayed resilient in the face of the global economic quagmire but her growth rate which turns around 4.5 per cent remains largely insufficient to attain emergence. Being the captain of the ship, President Paul Biya did not leave his people to wander around attaining the objective. He notably singled out agriculture, which he observed, absolutely needs to be modernised.
Logically so as a people who cannot feed themselves to satisfaction would be unable to pull the economy out of the doldrums. Emergent countries today are, to say the least, food selfsufficient. They produce what they consume and consume what they produce. Importing even what the country has huge potentials to produce in great quantities is counter-productive. “The broad outline of this “agricultural revolution” was defined at the Ebolowa Agricultural Show and is still relevant,” he noted. There is need to materialise it.
To the sustainable qualitative and quantitative agricultural production should be added local processing. Not only does this add value to the produce but it equally creates jobs. A country that produces and exports raw materials only to import finished products at almost cutthroat prices can only remain at infancy. Not a virtue for an emergent-aspiring country at all! Cameroon absolutely needs to industrialise.
Fortunately, she already has an Industrial Master Plan which is year ning for implementation. Industrialisation also entails energy supply and state-of-the-art infrastructure. As Mr. Biya pledges to continue to provide the country with energy infrastructure to meet the needs of her agro-industry and various industrial sectors, as well as the demands of the people, considerable efforts have to be pursued to develop the country’s transport infrastructure so as to boost the economy and ease the mobility of citizens.
Accelerating the country’s economic growth rate can never be the sole responsibility of the State. In fact, the private sector is known for its prowess in creating jobs and generating wealth. Investment-friendly measures have to be multiplied to woo them, especially direct foreign investments into the country. The economic and financial arrangement which government concluded with the International Monetary Fund in 2017 under the “Extended Credit Facility”, is a good step in the right direction. Thanks to it, government is committed to using the package to enhance Cameroon’s competitiveness and medium-term growth potential, in line with their strategy to attain a middle-income economy status by 2035.
Completing large energy and public transport infrastructure projects will help boost private sector investment, job creation, further diversification, complementary reforms to maintain financial stability, expand access to financial services and improve the business environment. Non-negligible economic growth-bolstering measures needed to attain emergence by 2035!