(Business in Cameroon) - Cameroonian authorities’ decision to maintain trade with other CEMAC countries, despite the border closures it decided as part of the fight against Covid-19, does not seem to have prevented the collapse of trade flows on the corridors serving Chad and CAR.
Customs sources, quoted in a report broadcast by Cameroonian public television CRTV, say that trade flows on the Douala-Ndjamena and Douala-Bangui corridors fell by 80% year-over-year in March 2020.
This drop is all the more understandable since traffic on these two corridors is mainly due to Chadian and Central African goods, which transit through the port of Douala in Cameroon. These goods, however, come from foreign countries whose borders have also been closed for several weeks because of the Coronavirus crisis.
In 2013, Cameroonian customs revealed that XAF340 billion worth of Chadian goods transit through Cameroon every year and XAF55 billion for Central African goods.
Oil crisis, harassment...
But before the Coronavirus crisis, things had already changed a lot. Not only because of the economic slowdown in Chad, since the fall in the prices of crude oil in 2015, but also because of the insecurity in the CAR, triggered by the fall of President François Bozizé in 2013.
Also, there were police and administrative harassment along the corridors. Those harassments forced many economic operators to divert their goods from the port of Douala to Beninese and Sudanese ports, according to the analyses made by those in charge of the port of Douala.
Consequently, since 2014, the volume of goods circulating along the corridors in Cameroon has been reduced by 600,000 tons, causing port actors and transporters a loss estimated at nearly XAF200 billion. These figures were revealed on July 11, 2018, in Douala by Cyrus Ngo'o, the Managing Director of the Port Authority of Douala (PAD) during a 3-day seminar on the implementation of the recommendations of the 2nd tripartite Cameroon-Chad-CAR forum on port issues.
Brice R. Mbodiam