Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Doing Business in Cameroon

I visited Cameroon in the late 1980's while on Congressman William H. Gray's Philadelphia Trade Mission. Both Yaounde, the business capital, and Douala, the commerce and port city, were on our agenda.

Cameroon has gone through many changes in the twenty plus years since my visit.
Basic Facts
Conventional Name:
Republic of Cameroon
Local Name:
Republique du Cameroun/Republic of Cameroon
Western Africa, bordering the Bight of Biafra, between Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria
Chief of State:
Prime Minister Philemon Yang
Head of State:
President Paul Biya
Main Resources
 Electric power capacity 905000 kW
  • Fish catch per year: 111,081 tonnes
  • Oil production and reserves: 68,000 b/d (200m barrels)
  • Estimated livestock resources: 5.9m cattle, 4.4m goats, 3.8m sheep, 31m chickens
  • Main mineral resources: Oil, coal, tin, natural gas, bauxite, iron, uranium, gold

Some basic facts about reaching Sub-Sharan Africans

1. Smartphones are on the rise. One in five mobile phone users in Sub-Saharan Africa now have a smartphone, with one in three in South Africa and one in four in Nigeria.
2. The mobile phone is the main electronic device used, and hence needs to perform multiple functions. The main other electronic device owned by mobile phone users is a DVD player with 72% of Sub-Saharan Africans having one.
3. There is strong desire to access the internet. The three main reasons to want a smartphone is to surf the internet (38%), to upgrade to a better phone (30%) and to access the latest features and services (26%)
4. Mobile phone users want mobility when accessing the internet, hence a laptop or smartphone are most desired. The device most users are most likely to buy next is a laptop computer (39% of mobile phone users claim they want to do this), followed by a smartphone at 20%. Intention to get a smartphone (most likely) is highest in South Africa (30%), Kenya (27%) and Nigeria (25%).
5. The mobile phone is the preferred device in Sub-Saharan Africa for just about all digital activities, with 43% saying it is their preferred device for browsing the internet. Exceptions are online shopping, viewing and editing documents, reading e-books and downloading or streaming video. For these activities, a laptop is preferred.
6. Nokia still reigns supreme on the African sub-continent. A little over half of all mobile phone users owning a Nokia as their main phone. Samsung is a distant second at 11% and Blackberry 3rd at just under 6%.
7. People stick with the brands they love. When buying a next phone, brand of handset is the most important choice criteria (20%), followed by battery life (15%) and then making voice calls (11%).
8. Battery life is a key need for mobility. The most important accessories mobile phone users are looking for are; a spare battery (64%), an additional memory card (46%) and a stereo Bluetooth headset (35%).
Data used in this article is sourced from TNS Mobile Life survey

As you can see and I think this holds true for all of Africa that they are accessible through their smartphones.

Many do not realize that Cameroon has oilfields almost as vast as Nigeria. Businesses that supply to the oil industries and those who purchase from the same would do well to look to Cameroon. Cameroon also is a great place for wood handicrafts. Carving is still valued as an art form here. 

Cameroon is not a country we hear a lot about. Which is a good thing, since whenever main stream media reports on an African country it is rarely anything positive. Cameroon realizes it has a image problem regarding corruption. The President has taken steps to reduce corruption at all levels. Time will tell how effective his actions are. Yet the Cameroonian people seem full in support of carrying out and enforcement of the President's actions.

One of my favorite performers is Cameroonian. Emmanuel 'Manu' N'Djoké Dibango (born 12 December 1933) is a Cameroonian saxophonist and vibraphone player. He developed a musical style fusing jazz, funk and traditional Cameroonian music. He is a member of the Yabassi ethnic group, though his mother was a Duala. He is best known for his 1972 afrobeat single "Soul Makossa".

New finds in Cameroon
Diamonds have now been discovered in Eastern Cameroon. Oil and now additional new discoveries of hydrocarbon pay have been discovered in quantities sufficient to make exploration profitable.

Cameroon has been described as a "Miniature Africa " because of its diversity in climate, culture and geography.  Those who are into eco-tourism should explore how to tap this growing international movement using Cameroon's ecological riches.

Ndole the National dish of Cameroon

I am only skimming the surface regarding doing business in Cameroon, but I wanted to put it on your radar as a country in Africa to consider when you are deciding where you want to expand internationally.

Only you know what your needs are.  With a well educated population, a young growing middle class and a stable government, Cameroon deserves a look . If you decide to explore Cameroon further, even as a tourist, come back and share your experience.



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