Cameroon has the resources for its industrialization and agricultural transformation. The economy’s current annual growth of 4.9% does not reflect the full potential that lies in the transformation of the riches of the country.
The economy is relatively diversified with the exploitation of vast agricultural resources, forestry, mining and energy. Exports have been dominated by oil, cocoa, wood, rubber and cotton. This diversification in resources lends itself to economic transformation through industrialization. Experts have witnessed firsthand the potential for economic transformation which can improve the social condition of Cameroonians. The young and dynamic youth have a role to play in converting this cheetah’s raw assets into the industrial products that will make the country proud. It is possible to transform agricultural products, wood, rubber and cotton for the local, regional and international market. The regional potential is particularly acute. Given its geographical position and its ample access to the sea, the country can easily place itself as a provider of goods and services between central and West Africa.
Cameroon needs to work on the value chains to maximize its economic base. If one just takes into account the potential of cotton, it is possible to develop strong linkages between the farmers and the nascent fashion industry by factoring the quality demanded by consumers into the development of a textile industry. The opportunity to gain market share is so blatant. Only 1% of the clothing industry is controlled by locals. With entrepreneurs demanding locally sourced quality inputs, the proceeds from the clothing industry can be distributed to reduce the share of imports of new and second hand clothes. The clothing industry is one area where the 64% of the under 25 could redirect their energy, boosting economic growth. To achieve it, Cameroon has to devise and implement policy measures that support local enterprises in their endeavor to reap the benefits of their creativity in local and regional value chains. Their competitiveness will be enhanced when barriers to innovation and doing business are no more. Fortunately, for Cameroon, there are other sectors with equal potential. Young entrepreneurs are making inroads into the lucrative market of applications for smartphones and tablets. They have understood the space for frugal innovation.
AppsTech is a company founded by Rebecca Enonchong which specializes in the management software for enterprises. It is Oracle certified. Rebecca has entered the lucrative software solutions market at a time the demand for these services is rising all over Africa. Another example is Tony Smith who founded Limitless specialized in tablet, smartphone and flat screen’s conceptions. He is aware he will have to face stiff competition. But one has to start somewhere. Such entrepreneurship can accelerate the changes required in a stagnant workforce. By demonstrating once jobs are not available we should strive to create them ourselves.