The government of Cameroon should strive to encourage a competitive business environment in order to attract more investors, enhance industrialisation and catalyse the structural transformation of the economy.
This was the meeting point between economic and policy experts who sat on a panel to debate on the prospects of improving on Cameroon’s industrialiation through market competition.
The 2020-2030 National Strategy for Development lays emphasis on industrialization though the 2016 general census of companies places the secondary sector with only 15.6 percent of companies with the tertiary sector representing 824.2 percent. The figures are even more telling with small businesses representing 98.5 percent of the total companies.
So, ‘Is market economy good for Cameroon’s Industrialisation?’. That was the question put forward to experts during the latest edition of the Nkafu Debates held in Yaounde on Thursday, February 20.
Arguing for, Dr. Louis Marie Kakdeu, Economist and Policy fellow at the Nkafu Policy Institute said competition is a catalyst and stimulant for production and hence the need for more industries. Citing examples from various sectors of the Cameroonian market, he said demands exceeds supply and competition is needed in order to meet up. When a sector is not open for competition, the monopoly kills innovation as can be seen with the electricity sector, he said but warned the market competition needs to be regularised by the state in order to avoid unfair competition.
However, on the other side of the divide, Dr Lamine Himbe , Civil Administrator and Researcher at the Ministry of Mines, Industries and Technological Development said the state should be looking protect local products because opening up the market for competition would kill the local companies. His team mate, Rene Mezene added that Cameroon does not yet have the technical capacities to open up the markets and deal with the pressure from the ensuing international competition which to him will kill local production.
Despite their divergent views during the 90-minute debate, the panelists all agreed that innovation and creativity are the major ingredients for Cameroon’s industrialisation and if that has to come through market competition, then it should be accompanied by favourable measures put in place by the government.