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World Bank Rescales Cameroon 

By Ntaryike Divine Jr

CameroonPostline.com — The World Bank has predicted that Cameroon’s economic growth rate will attain 5.5 percent this year.  The new forecast is contained in the global financial powerhouse’s January Economic Report for Cameroon, and concurs with projections made by the government last year. 

The figure notes a growth hop from 4.1 percent in 2011.  The World Bank hinges its optimism on a planned massive spending spree on infrastructure projects beginning this year, efforts to recharge agricultural productivity and improve energy supply, as well as an envisaged 15 percent rise in oil output.   

Last year, the Ministry of Finance announced it expected Cameroon’s economic growth rate to kiss 5 percent in 2012.  Officials hinged the projection on profits to be reaped from principal exports including oil, cocoa, coffee, rubber, cotton and wood among others.

But in December, the IMF recomputed the figure, forecasting the rate will dangle between 3 and 4 percent.  The Bretton Woods institution nonetheless voiced satisfaction with Cameroon’s capacity in resisting the impacts of the debt crisis in Europe [its principal export partner], and then warned there existed a couple of hurdles that may snail-pace growth hop from 2 percent in 2009..

The pinpointed obstacles included weak competitiveness of the private and banking sectors, slumps in purchasing power and excessive budgetary allocations for the functioning of state institutions.  It recommended the government should enforce measures to enable the private sector fully play its role as creator of jobs and wealth; as well as the construction and rehabilitation of farm-to-market roads. 

The horrible state of roads significantly slows down the evacuation of produce from the farms to the markets, implying a 40 percent loss for farmers due to the non-commercialization of their harvests.

“It is hard to explain that the two institutions, the World Bank and its daughter, the IMF do not come up with the same figures in less than three months.  The immediate impression is that there is something wrong somewhere.  Either one of them was hasty, or another is in cahoots with the government to make Cameroonians be hopeful,” Jean Christian Akam, economic reporter with Canal 2 International TV in the economic nub Douala remarked.  According to him, the figures mean very little to average Cameroonians until they begin to see real improvements in their living standards.

Meantime, the World Bank warns that the Eurozone debt crisis could blur the bright prospects if it starts resulting in reduced imports from Cameroon, as well as a drop in remittances.  Europe serves as the country’s biggest market, and also hosts the largest community of Cameroonians overseas.

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