By Joe Dinga Pefok
A survey carried out by the French language daily ‘Le Quotidien de l’economie’ has shown that Cameroon’s economy is losing billons due to the ongoing Anglophone crisis that also includes ghost town operations.
This was the lead story in the paper’s edition of Tuesday, February 7.
An economist, Dieudonné Essomba, stated in the report that the two Anglophone Regions (Southwest and Northwest Regions), play a strategic role in the Cameroonian economy.
He said consequently, the disruption of economic activities in the two regions can only lead to big losses to for the country’s economy.
Taking the Southwest for example, Essomba asserted that the Region with its oil production, huge agro-industries like CDC and PAMOL and other big economic activities, is indisputably the first amongst the 10 regions in terms of contribution to the economy.
Le Quotidien de l’economie further reported that the nation’s economic capital, Douala, is already seriously affected by the Anglophone crisis.
At the Mboppi Market, which is one of the biggest wholesale markets in Central Africa, traders have been complaining of a huge drop in their normal turnover.
It is a similar story at the Douala Central Market where many traders in the Southwest and Northwest Regions are said to get their supplies. With a slowdown in economic activities in the two Anglophone Regions, the suppliers are suffering the negative effect since the traders have had to reduce their trips to Douala, hence their demands.
On the other hand, big food markets in the Northwest and Southwest Regions like Muea Market that usually supply Douala, Yaounde and beyond have also slowed down.
With the Anglophone crisis raging on, and especially the ghost town operations which also affects travels, many aspects of commerce have been hit hard. This includes inter-urban transporters in Douala and elsewhere.
“Our big customers are traders and so when there is slowdown in their economic activities, we are automatically affected,” some transporters were quoted as having told the French language daily.
According to Le Quotidien de l’economie, the huge economic losses being caused by the Anglophone crisis has been worsen by the scandalous decision of the CPDM regime to deliberately shut down internet services in the two Anglophone Regions.
It is an unfortunate act that has grounded many businesses especially financial institutions and money transfer services. Yet these enterprises still have to pay their workers as well as pay taxes to the state.
A senior official of one of the major commercial banks in the country told the paper that a little over 30 percent of its installations and activities are in the two Anglophone Regions.
He lamented that the internet blackout in the two regions means that a little over 30 percent of the bank has been paralysed.
The bank would still have to pay all its staff in the two Anglophone regions as well full taxes to the state.
Trade With Nigeria
Further findings by the French language daily also show that trade between Cameroon and neighbouring Nigeria is also being seriously affected by the Anglophone crisis.
The Northwest and Southwest Regions share a border with Nigeria and are major gateways by land and by sea between the two countries.
Though the Cameroon Government claims that the Douala Port handles some 95 percent of the import and export trade of the nation, the paper cites the report of a World Bank study which shows that Nigeria is the biggest trading partner of Cameroon, with annual commercial exchanges running over FFA 4,000 billion. About 20 percent of Cameroon’s import is said to come from Nigeria, while Cameroon’s exports to Nigeria is only 5 percent.
Meanwhile, with trade between Cameroon and Nigeria being impaired by the Anglophone crisis, a senior customs official is quoted to have disclosed to the French language daily that a drop in the collection of customs duty by Cameroon is being noticed at customs posts at the Cameroon-Nigerian border, including the Tiko, Ekondo-Titi and Idenau ports in the Southwest.
Essomba noted with regret that the economic weight of the Southwest Region may not be visible to many people, because of the controversial decision of the Government to compel several big companies in the region to pay their taxes either in Douala or Yaounde.
He explained that such a situation is misleading as the Southwest Region is deprived of the credit for its rich natural resources.
The National Oil Refinery, SONARA, for example is said to pay its taxes in Douala instead of Limbe where it is located, or even in Ndian Division where the crude oil really comes from.