By Boris Esono Nwenfor
Cameroon has taken several reforms to improve its business environment and to attract investors. However, there are many bottlenecks to enhancing the business environment in Cameroon, one of which is the regulatory framework.
To contribute to the improvement of Cameroon’s ranking of the Doing Business Index (DBI), the Nkafu Policy Institute of the Denis & Lenora Foretia Foundation organized a public debate on April 27 at the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation, in Yaounde with the main question being “Should the government relax regulatory norms to facilitate the profitability and growth of new business in Cameroon?”
According to the Doing Business Index, Cameroon is ranked 167th out of 190 countries. This means that there are still a lot of worries (taxes, building permits, business creation). This is because the regulatory framework is not suited to our context,” Dr Jean Cedric Kouam, Senior Economic Policy Analyst at the Nkafu Policy Institute stated.
“Be it the government or the civil society or even young entrepreneurs, we are all guilty of the difficult situation small businesses find themselves in. This is because we do not submit our complaints to the right people. For example, there exist a Chamber of Commerce and one of Agriculture that can help influence reforms in the said domains but we do not make use of them,” said Dr Ahanda Sosthene, Director, Small Business and Entrepreneurship Centre, SBEC.
“We have to respect the rules and regulations given by the government to thrive as an SME. SBEC Is a worthy incubator for small and medium-sized enterprises.”
With all the problems associated it seems like that the regulatory framework is a discouraging factor to entrepreneurs in Cameroon, considering it is extremely difficult for some to meet up with these standards or certifications in terms of cost. “This situation could also partially explain why 80% of businesses die before 5 years in the country, the Nkafu Policy Institute stated.”
The Nkafu Debates seek to provide a platform for Cameroonian and African high-level experts to objectively address the conditions required to succeed in investing in Cameroon.
“Many young people get into entrepreneurship without really trying to get the right information on documentation, procedures and costs. The role of incubators is not only to train but also to transmit the right information,” Dr David Tsunayo, Researcher and Deputy Coordinator of the Cameroonian National Committee for Technology Development said.
“Young people need support more than access to funding,” Christelle Youmbi, CEO of AM Group and Vice President of Cameroon’s Youth Economic Forum said.
“Today, we have embarked on a journey on the same boat that leads us to Cameroon’s emergence. So, all the stakeholders need to come together and ameliorate the situation that we find ourselves in.”
Certifications and standardization norms which are among some of the regulatory policies needed in every formal economy for the protection of consumers, seem to affect the profitability and survival of new businesses in Cameroon. Many businesses owners report being handicapped by the standards imposed on them. The survival and profitability of businesses in Cameroon are plagued by the requirement to obtain authorization or homologation before any innovations and marketing which is a form of closure of the market and public space.
According to a release by the Nkafu Policy Institute, a young entrepreneur who invents a simple oximeter to allow patients to measure their blood pressure independently must submit his product to the authorization of the Ministry in charge of public health. To transform seasonal fruit into organic fruit juice, you must undergo a series of costly certifications. Also, the Tanty brand, one of the few growing companies in the food industry, had preferred to close its peanut oil production line rather than invest in standardization.