By Boris Esono Nwenfor
Experts in Cameroon have noted that there remains a challenging process in obtaining construction permits in the country and that the business climate needs to be improved upon.
The experts from a diverse field were speaking during the second Nkafu Debates on June 18 under the theme: “Obtaining Construction Permits in Cameroon: Is the Interference of Professional Associations necessary?”
The session that was moderated by Dr Fuein Vera, Economic Affairs Research Fellow at the Nkafu Policy Institute has as panellist Abondo Antoine Rollin, Civil Engineer, Abanda Jean Roger, Civil Engineer, Dr Steve Tametong, Democracy Fellow at the Nkafu Policy Institute and a host of others.
Despite the reforms undertaken in the urbanization sector in Cameroon (2014, 2016, 2017), many bottlenecks still mar the process of obtaining building permits. “In particular, governance issues, excessive procedural patterns, land issues, corruption, and influence peddling seem to hamper the realization of the objectives set by the government of Cameroon to attract the much-needed local and foreign direct investment,” part of the concept note stated.
The Interim CEO of the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation Fri Asanga in her opening remark noted that this debate is organized within our Doing Business Index Project which started in 2019. She added that Cameroon scored 46 points out of 100 in 2020 placing it in the 167 positions out of 190.
That of obtaining construction permits is one of those indicators that Cameroon should look at improving upon according to the Interim CEO. The process of obtaining building permits has been shortened but this process remains quite complex; norms, conditions, documents and stakeholders involved in the process.
“This process differs across the national territory, therefore creating some kind of uncertainty and lack of trust in the system… The improvement of obtaining a building permit in Cameroon remains a real challenge for our country which is going to achieve emergence by 2035,” Fri Asanga, Interim CEO of the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation said in her opening statements.
Dr Steve Tametong, Democracy Fellow, Nkafu Policy Institute, speaking during the debate indicated that “the quality of life is highly dependent on a decent and pleasant urban setting. Only an urban development involving all stakeholders, especially professional orders in the urban planning and housing sector, fully contributes to this.”
“Professional Associations accompany and educate those who request permits on the process and what is required. This limits the chances of the documents being rejected by the administration,” Abanda Jean Roger, a Civil Engineer said.
“When an investor comes to the country, he thinks of erecting a building to host his/her business and if he/she cannot have this certificate to construct, it will greatly affect the will to invest in our country. He might as well move to other countries where such an environment is enabling. This will be a big blow to our economic situation,” Abanda Jean Roger added.
This debate provided a platform for high-level Cameroonian and African experts to address the requirements for successful investment in Cameroon and also critically assessed the current business environment on the processing of constriction permits in Cameroon.
To Dr Jean Cedric Kouam, “the difficulty related to the obtaining of building permits does not result from the involvement or not of professional orders… The problem lies in the complexity of the procedures, the high cost as well as the time necessary to obtain these documents.”