By Amos Fofung Nkunchoh
As Cameroon’s emergence vision 2035 date draws near, the government of the Central African state is putting in place remarkable efforts to achieve the status of a developing county. The goals and priorities for the country in becoming an emerging economy narrows on developing its industries, substantially increase exports, provide import substitution, boasting local industries, narrowing the gap between the rich and poor, capitalizing and improving its agricultural sector and open local markets to foreign investments among others.
It is in this regard that the government of Cameroon obtained a World Bank loan worth some 94 Billion FCFA to finance urban development projects and complete the Sanaga Hydroelectric dam project.
An agreement to that effect was penned on February 28, in the Conference Hall of the Ministry of the Economy, Planning and Rural Development between representatives of the World Bank and the government. The World Bank Country Director for Cameroon, Elisabeth Huybens told the audience that 160 million dollars is allocated for the upgrading and development of some towns in the country; while 23.3 million dollars is to support the construction of the Sanaga Hydroelectricity dam.
A sum of 183.3 million dollars which amounts to 94 BFCFA will be allocated to for the above projects. The beneficiary towns include; Batouri in the East region, the Douala III and V Councils in the Littoral region, Kousseri and Maroua in the Far North region, Kumba II Council in the South West region; and the Ngaoundere II Council, in the Adamawa region.
We should recall that in July 2018, the World Bank approved an investment package of $794.5 million for the Nachtigal Hydropower project in Cameroon.
Speaking, Elisabeth Huybens, said “this investment in clean energy is key to lowering the cost of electricity and ensuring that Cameroon’s economy is competitive. The Nachtigal Project is one of the very few public-private partnership (PPP) hydropower projects in Sub-Saharan Africa that will accelerate Cameroon’s realization of its development goals, including poverty reduction.”
With an urban population estimated at 54%, the World Bank Country Director revealed that Cameroon is among the most urbanized countries in Sub Saharan Africa. “Every year not less than 75,000 new families leave the rural areas to settle in urban centers; meaning that by 2030, eight million Cameroonians will be living in urban centers,” she stated.
For this reason, Huybens said it was necessary to place emphasis on developing towns and cities that foster inclusive growth of the population, evade impoverishment of the masses while encouraging sustainable development through avoidance of shanty towns and uncontrolled urban sprawl.
“The government of Cameroon has a vision to increase access to power to 88 percent in electrified areas by 2022 and to increase generation and transmission capacity to meet a surge in demand, which is expected to quadruple by 2035. A cornerstone of achieving this goal is the construction of a privately owned and operated 420-megawatt hydropower plant on the Sanaga River, the Nachtigal Hydropower Plant. The project will increase Cameroon’s power generation capacity by 30 percent and boost hydropower’s share of the country’s power generation to about 75 percent by 2023.” The world bank wrote.
For his part, the Minister of the Economy, Planning and Regional Development, Alamine Ousmane Mey thanked the World Bank for the kind gesture pledging that the money would be used judiciously to execute the envisaged projects taking Cameroon a step further towards achieving its goals. The Minister also called for more fruitful collaboration between the Bank and the government assuring the Breton Woods institution that the current seven-year mandate which President Biya had started, will truly be that of greater opportunities for all Cameroonians.