On the 9th of July 2014, an op-ed was published by Business in Cameroon revealing that Cameroon has been admitted to the status of a mixed financing nation by the African Development Bank (ADB). This position was corroborated by Cameroon’s Minister of Economy, Emmanuel Nganou Djoumessi. According to Business in Cameroon, this status allows Cameroon to continue to get loans at concessional rates from the African Development Fund (ADF), a subsidiary of the ADB. Cameroon can also have direct access to the national branch of this regional institution.
“The designation of this status by the ADB group shows that it recognises the efforts made by the country,” added Racine Kane, the ADB resident representative to Cameroon. “The ADB has allowed us to access the mixed financing regime. This was not done at our request. It was done in light of the strong assessment the ADB evaluators have done on our economy. This assessment established the soundness of our macro-economic criteria. It demonstrated that we have a low level of indebtedness and we are harnessing our resources. Consequently, we are a country with an emerging economy,” Minister Nganou Djoumessi added.
The ADB has dished out over 99 billion Fcfa to Cameroon to finance 91 projects, since 1972. The Minister of Economy confirmed that the ADB has loaned Cameroon over 255 billion Fcfa, for the month of July 2014 alone.
It is indeed, a shame to know that the government of Cameroon is happy with such a status. This is indeed a bad omen to development especially for a country which has decided to depend on loans from international financial institutions like the ADB. Of the 21 projects currently being financed in Cameroon by the ADB, just 23% are within the private sector. Many continue to argue that the private sector in Cameroon is weak. The truth is that government has not made adequate efforts to make the private sector in Cameroon an equal partner in development. Experience has also shown that financing which has been engineered by the government sector has been siphoned by corrupt government officials and most of this money starched illegally in foreign bank accounts.
Embracing the status of a mixed financing nation by the ADB will only make Cameroon poorer and underdeveloped. Rather than embracing such a status, policy actors tasked with reshaping Cameroon’s economy need to reflect more towards a free market economy rather than an economy that depends on loans from international financial institutions like the ADB. There is no gain saying that since 1972, after having received so much money from the ADB, the country has nothing to write home about. Infrastructure remains deplorable while youth unemployment is alarming. Cameroon needs to beef up the private sector. Taxes need to be reduced and more jobs in the private sector created. The educational system in the country has to also be revisited so as enable graduates to be ‘job creators’ rather than ‘job searchers’. These are some measures which if the government of Cameroon gives some attention to, then there will be no need to be contended about being a mixed financing nation of the ADB.