(Business in Cameroon) - The Cameroonian government has secured financing of €79.44 million (about CFA52 billion) from the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB). The lender approved the loan during the 47th annual meeting of its Board of Governors, held from 1 to 4 June 2022 in Sharm El Sheikh (Egypt).
The Cameroonian Minister of Economy, Alamine Ousmane Mey, who was also present at the meeting, said the resources will be used to promote the local rice sub-sector via the Rice Value Chain Development Program. With this initiative, the government seeks to boost the local production of rice and significantly reduce its imports.
Rice and frozen fish are the main food products imported into Cameroon. According to the National Institute of Statistics (INS), in H1 2021, rice alone accounted for 5% of Cameroon's total imports, which amounted to CFA1,824 billion for 5.07 million tons of goods.
To satisfy the growing demand, authorities plan to purchase 400,000 tons of rice this year, at a time when prices have increased on the global market. Reliable sources reported that these imports will be free of customs duties and other port charges, meaning that in addition to reducing the country's foreign exchange reserves and widening the trade deficit, the announced rice imports will not provide direct tax and customs revenues to the public treasury. Moreover, rice imports to the local market are often re-exported to neighboring countries, through smuggling. INS estimated that in 2019, CFA87 billion worth of rice was smuggled to countries neighboring Cameroon.
Brice R. Mbodiam