In February 2022, the business environment in Cameroon was at the center of a debate between private sector actors and certain members of the government. Organized by the European Union as part of the Promote Show, these exchanges enabled the various players present to identify the problems that hinder doing business. To conclude, the participants agreed to meet at the next Cameroon Business Forum, which was announced to be held in the coming weeks. Unfortunately, 5 months later, we still have no indication of a possible organization of this public-private dialogue mechanism set up to improve the business environment.
The main actors usually involved in the organization of the CBF, namely employers and the government, are struck by an alarming silence. On the Interpatronal Grouping of Cameroon (GICAM) side, we seem quite concerned about issues related to Emmanuel Macron’s latest visit to Cameroon. In particular, the consequences of the meeting between the French president and the Cameroonian private sector. “We are writing to the President of the Republic, President Macron and many other people. We are focused on that … what happened in Yaoundé (meeting between the French president and the actors of the Cameroon private sector), there is a whole series of urgent follow-up actions to be taken, so we are working on it “, a Gicam told official contacted by EcoMatin.
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At the government level, the last public and solemn evocation regarding the Cameroon Business Forum dates from February 2022. Professor Alexandre Schouame, employed by the Department of Economy, Forecasting, Budget and Finance of the Prime Minister’s Services, says at this time that the government took the time to do things the right way. “No one prevented the Cameroon Business Forum from taking place. There was a date, but there were circumstances that prevented the CBF from taking place. It is planned after CAN 2021. So we are on schedule. Promote is happening, are we going to do business while Promote is there? Parliament meets the following week. Can we do it then? We must allow the agenda to resume and not rush too much,” he said.
The mystery surrounding the organization of the 12th edition of the Cameroon Business Forum seems to have a direct link to the almost permanent tensions that characterize the public-private dialogue in Cameroon. The latter were further reinforced in December 2021 with the withdrawal of Gicam, who declined an invitation from the Secretary-General of the Prime Minister’s Services, requesting his presence at this event. Célestin Tawamba, the president of this employers’ association, also took care to justify this refusal by identifying various aspects of the process related to the organization of the CBF that he and the organization he leads did not appreciate. These include in particular the points to be discussed, the date of the event on which there was no consensus, or the determination of the objectives of the 2021 session.
Also read: Public-private dialogue: the Cameroon Business forum 2021 postponed
We can also mention that Gicam’s plea to improve the organization of this meeting has not been taken into account as an explanation for the delay of the organizers of the CBF. Specifically, Gicam proposes to create a Cameroon Business Council (CBC) from the ashes of the CBF, a new permanent framework for high-level consultation between the state and the private sector. It must be an innovative and effective public/private dialogue structure, placed under the authority of the head of government,” explains a source close to Gicam. It will be a bipartisan institution chaired by the Prime Minister and of which the President of Gicam will be the Vice President. These proposals date from 2021 and so far we are waiting for the start of their implementation.
Also read: Cameroon Business Forum 2021: Gicam declines government invitation