(Business in Cameroon) - Sodecoton produced a record 328,453 tons of cottonseed during the 2019-2020 cotton campaign, which was technically completed in May 2020. With that cottonseed, the public company produced 138,516 tons of cotton fiber.
According to official sources, only 1,366 tons of the cotton fiber (representing a little over 1% of total production) were sold locally to Cotonnière industrielle du Cameroun (Cicam), the only textile company operating within the CEMAC region;130,323 tons are destined for exports despite the boarding difficulties recorded at the Port of Douala due to the constraints imposed by the coronavirus pandemic.
This low volume of cotton fiber purchased by Cicam (Ed.note: sometimes Cicam purchases 5% of overall production) this season is due to the financial constraints it is facing, the negative impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, and the tough competition caused by sellers of imported textiles.
Despite the new equipment it received early this year, Cicam faced challenges in the financing of its investment projects, according to the report on the 2020 economic outlook published by the Ministry of Economy. Also, the coronavirus pandemic caused the cancellation of its unbleached fabric orders from China. Therefore, it was able to operate at only 49% of its capacities.
Also, the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of the May 1st, 2020 Labor Day. As the government prohibited gatherings of more than 50 people in a bid to contain the spread of the virus, parties and celebrations (for which African fabrics and other textile products are largely bought) are rarely organized. All these induced a significant drop in Cicam’s turnover.
Apart from the situational constraints, Cicam has also been affected by some structural problems this year. Indeed, from being the flagship of textiles in Cameroon (and Central Africa as a whole), Cicam gradually lost market shares and is currently controlling barely 5% of the local market. This is due to the fabrics imported from China (which officially represents about 88% of the market) and West Africa (6% of the market). The imported fabrics are sold at highly competitive prices in the Cameroonian market.
Brice R. Mbodiam