where did the Cameroon business forum go?

In February 2022, the business climate in Cameroon was at the center of a debate between private sector actors and certain members of the government. These exchanges, which were organized by the European Union as part of the Promote Show, enabled the various players present to put their finger on the problems that interfere with doing business. By way of conclusion, the participants agreed to meet at the next Cameroon Business Forum, which was then 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 work to improve the business climate.

The main actors usually involved in the organization of the CBF, which are the employers and the government, are conspicuous by a disturbing silence. On the side of the Interpatronal Grouping of Cameroon (GICAM) we seem rather concerned about subjects relating to Emmanuel Macron’s last visit to Cameroon. In particular the fallout from the meeting between the French president and the Cameroonian private sector. “We are writing to the President of the Republic, to President Macron and to many other people. We are focused on that… what happened in Yaoundé (meeting between the French president and the actors of the Cameroonian private sector), there is a whole series of urgent follow-up actions to be done so we are on it” a indicated a Gicam official contacted by EcoMatin.

Read also: Cameroon business forum, CSU, inflation, energy deficit: urgent issues after CAN

At the government level, the last public and solemn evocation concerning the Cameroon Business Forum dates back to February 2022. Professor Alexandre Schouame in service at the division of Economy, forecasting, budget and finance of the services of the Prime minister, let it be known at this time that the government was taking its 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 will be scheduled after CAN 2021. So we are on schedule. There’s Promote happening, are we going to do the doing business while there’s Promote? The following week, the parliament meets. 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 with the almost permanent tensions that characterize public-private dialogue in Cameroon. The latter were accentuated in December 2021 with the withdrawal of Gicam, which declined an invitation from the Secretary General of the Prime Minister’s Services, who requested his presence at this event. Célestin Tawamba, the president of this employers’ organization also took care to justify this refusal by identifying several aspects of the process relating to the organization of the CBF that he and the organization he heads did not appreciate. . These include, in particular, the points to be discussed, the date of the event which was not the subject of consensus, or the definition of the objectives of the 2021 session.

Read also: Public-private dialogue: the Cameroon Business forum 2021 postponed

We can just as well mention the fact that Gicam’s plea for the improvement of the organization of this meeting was not taken into account to explain the delay incurred by the organizers of the CBF. Concretely, Gicam proposes that out of the ashes of the CBF, a Cameroon Business Council (CBC), a new permanent framework for high-level consultation between the State and the private sector, should be born. It should 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 bipartite institution chaired by the Prime Minister and of which the President of Gicam would be the Vice-President. These proposals date from 2021, and so far we are waiting for the start of their implementation.

Read also: Cameroon Business Forum 2021: Gicam declines the government’s invitation

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