(Business in Cameroon) - Cameroon's Ministry of Defense is currently finalizing a project for the construction of a textile factory in Mengong, in the South. Defense Minister Joseph Beti Assomo said so, on June 30, 2023, during oral questions before the parliament in Yaoundé. He was listing the industrial projects underway at the Ministry of Defense.
“[...] we also have a developing project at Mengong in the Mvila region, in the South: the construction of a textile factory, initially for the military and if possible for civilians. Here too, the land and property procedures have been completed, and the land has been identified and demarcated," said the Minister of Defense, without going into further detail.
In addition to reducing expenditure on military clothing, the project is expected to boost the Cameroonian cotton textile and clothing industry. The said industry has been declining for decades now, due to the challenges experienced by the State-owned company CICAM. Once the flagship of Central Africa's textile industry, CICAM now processes barely 5% of the cotton produced locally, because the local market has been invaded by Chinese and West African fabrics that are sometimes smuggled in. As a result, the State-owned company’s products are no longer competitive in the local market.
National development strategy
In addition, the textile factory being planned by the Cameroonian army will be a local client for the cotton development corporation Sodecoton which plans to raise its production from 300 kilotons of cotton now to 400 kilotons by 2025. This increase in the production capacity of the agro-industrial behemoth in Cameroon's northern regions is in line with the National Development Strategy 2020-2030 (SND30), as is the Ministry of Defense's textile factory project.
Indeed, the SND30 aims to structurally transform the country’s economy by 2030 with a robust industry. In the textile industry, one of the sectors identified by the government as key to achieving the SND30 objectives, the plan is not only to increase national cotton production to 600 kilotons yearly but also to process 50% of the fiber grown locally by 2030.
To achieve this cotton processing objective, the government plans to develop a manufacturing and garment industry, particularly for sportswear (jerseys, tracksuits, basketballs, etc.), capable of satisfying at least 50% of national demand, on the one hand, and on the other, to supply the major State bodies (military, police and civilians) with clothing and equipment made of at least 60% of Cameroonian cotton.
Brice R. Mbodiam