Urgent measures needed for private sector to green Cameroon's economy

Yaounde, 14 October 2020 (ECA) – Cameroon’s private sector is currently ill-prepared to leverage a spate of opportunities offered by the green economy but a comprehensive set of measures which Government should spearhead, can turn the issue around, says a new study being finalized by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

The “Study on Leveraging the Potential of the Private Sector to Stimulate Green Growth and Job Creation in Cameroon” explores five sectors in which both government and the private sector should focus for maximum results. They are: energy, agriculture, and manufacturing, waste treatment and forest resource management.

The core content of the draft report was validated on Tuesday 13 October 2020 in Yaounde by a multidisciplinary array of external reviewers.

It reveals that apart from the demands of the international market for sustainable products, such as the certification of all timber products exported to European Union markets, and the awareness of eco-responsible consumption at the national level, there are no real pull factors in Cameroon’s business climate to encourage the private sector to make the necessary investments in green economy ventures.

It further states that the country’s 2013 private investment incentive legislation does not speak elaborately to green concerns.

Public authorities should therefore update the private investment incentive law to comprehensively address the opportunities that the sector could seize from the green economy, recommends the study.

Featuring the contours of the green economy in the national growth and employment strategy paper (DSCE, in French), is crucial, it notes. To this end, Cameroon’s authorities could draw inference from ECCAS’ program for the development of the green economy in Central Africa (PDEVAC, in French), the country’s Industrial Development Masterplan (PDI, in French) as well as its National Strategy for the Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). This can result in stringing together a National Green Economy Strategy.

“With its forest cover estimated at 22.5 million hectares, including 17 million hectares of dense and humid forests, representing the second largest forest in Central Africa after the Democratic Republic of the Congo, an emerging mining sector with an exciting cobalt potential well as immense opportunities in the agricultural and fisheries sectors, Cameroon, through its dynamic private sector, must turn resolutely towards responsible exploitation and the preservation of its natural resources,” said Antonio Pedro, Director of ECA’s Central Africa Office during the report reviewing exercise.

“There is a huge value proposition for the private sector in protecting the environment as it operates for business gains that can be found in sectors such as renewable solar energy and electric car battery systems, for instance. This is the business case of the green economy in Cameroon.

“Would it not be interesting for the private sector to hone its skills and deploy its resources in the exploration and exploitation of cobalt to contribute to the production of lithium-ion batteries which will be a 500-billion US-dollar-per-year industry by 2050?,” Pedro quizzed.

“With advances in storage capacity and inspiring examples such as the 2,245 megawatts (MW) Bhadla Solar Park recently commissioned in India, solar energy can now light entire countries and power industry, thus opening up new growth poles in our diversification pathway. To harness these kinds of opportunities, the private sector in Cameroon should partner with research institutions in clusters of innovation with the government providing the necessary incentives and support,” Pedro concluded.

Cameroon’s Minister of Environment, Protection of Nature and Sustainable Development,

Pierre Hélé, praised ECA for its contribution to the reflection on the green economy for which the private sector has an important role to play.

“For Cameroon, it is necessary, even vital, to think of a new mode of development adapted to the realities of our societies, which promotes the rational use of resources for our people’s current needs without compromising those of future generations,” he said, noting that Government would pay keen attention to the recommendations of the study.

Some operational measures for tackling the issues raised in the report in order to prod the private sector into investing in the green economy include:  the creation of a national working group on the green economy, the establishment of a public ideas platform to regularly debate green economy issues, the creation of an integrated green statistics system at the National Institute of Statistics and the inclusion of green economy themes into the learning program of Cameroon’s educational system.

The reviewed report will be published once it integrates a range of points advanced by the college of reviewers.

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