(Business in Cameroon) - On June 17, 2021, Chadian Minister of Public Security, General Souleyman Abakar Adam, and Ousman Bassy Lougma, director-general of the country’s national police, officially reopened their sides of the Ngueli bridge (photo) - which is Chad’s border with Cameroon. Indeed, that border was closed in March 2020, when the first coronavirus cases were confirmed in Cameroon.
According to credible sources, this does not mean that commercial exchanges will immediately resume between the two countries through that border because Cameroon was not included in the process. During the reopening ceremony, General Souleyman Abakar Adam indicated that Chadian authorities will contact Cameroonian authorities for practical measures aimed at the full reopening of the border.
Once this border is fully opened, the revived commercial exchanges that will ensue will boost the economy of Kousséri, a Far North town that is suffocating for months now. “The border closure is stifling our activities here in Kousseri. It hinders our operations (…) The losses are huge. My minimum daily turnover was XAF50,000. However, things went suddenly quiet. Nowadays, I have no clients and my landlord is demanding the XAF40,000 monthly rent to be paid at the end of every month. Currently, I don’t even know how to manage,” confided Aladji Bichara, a Kousseri economic operator, months ago.
Kousseri is not the only city to benefit from this border reopening, however. Cameroon and Chad as a whole will benefit. According to customs sources, commercial flow on the Douala-Ndjamena and Douala-Bangui corridors dropped by 80% year-on-year in March 2020, because of the coronavirus pandemic. Most of the commercial flows on those corridors consisted of Chadian (about XAF340 billion yearly) and Central African (about XAF55 billion yearly) imports that transit through the Port of Douala.