Cameroon hopes that the International Economic Conference currently taking place in Yaoundé will help to boost the country’s sluggish ebusiness sector.
Cameroon currently lags far behind international standards for ebusiness, with just two per cent of Cameroonians buying and selling online, according to a report published in April 2015 by Salon Afrikebiz. This has been blamed on limited access to the Internet and high rates charged by Internet service providers, placing home Internet provision out of reach of many Cameroonians.
The conference, which began on 17th May 2016, brings together business leaders from across Africa and beyond and organisers hope that it will help to attract investment into Cameroon. Google’s Director for Africa, Tidjane Deme, has said that Cameroon offers excellent potential for ebusiness investment, due to its highly educated population and the fact that it has two internationally spoken official languages, English and French, with most Cameroonians being fluent in both, giving them an advantage in the international marketplace.
However, many ebusiness startups have struggled to gain a foothold in Cameroon, owed not least to lack of adequate training and the aforementioned sporadic Internet access.
The two-day conference features keynote speeches from the former Korean Prime Minister, Dr Chung Un Chan on economic lessons from Korea; former European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso on strengthening economic ties between Europe and Africa; and Aliko Dangote, the CEO of Dangote Group. Subjects of roundtable discussions include identifying the most promising sectors for growth, the role of the private sector in Africa’s economic growth, the factors that make Cameroon an attractive prospect for investment, and the growth of the digital economy. Speakers at the latter forum include Cameroon’s Minister of Post and Telecommunications, Minette Libom Li Likeng, and Africa 24 CEO M Constant Nemale. The conference was opened by the President of Cameroon, Paul Biya.