Diaspora: An Asset To Foster Economic Dev’t

If the Cameroonian diaspora is well coordinated and resources harnessed, it has a huge potential to spur economic prosperity.

Cameroon Diaspora constitute a strong force that can be reckoned with. Statistics from the country’s Ministry of External Relations puts the figure at some 6 million Cameroonians who constitute members of Cameroon diaspora. If figures are anything to go by, then one can comfortably state that the number which is about one-fifth of the estimated country’s population is indeed huge with enormous potentials. These potentials however remains under exploited and as the case may be, most are reticent in taking part in the building of their country of origin for diverse reasons. Conceivably, this is the raison d’être for the creation of the Parliamentary Network on the Diaspora at the National Assembly with the motive to encourage their participation in national development. As the President of the Network dubbed REP-COD explained, the network serves as an interface between the government and the diaspora. It is a platform for dialogue between the State and the diaspora. The overall goal the network wants to achieve is to encourage the creation of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) by Cameroonian Diasporas who wants to return home. This informs the recent visit to the Minister of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, Social Economy and Handicraft by a delegation of the Parliamentary Network headed by Hon Louis Henri Ngatcha. Creating an enterprise is one thing and having appropriate accompanying measures is another. Thus, the Cameroonian diaspora who wants to invest back home must be encouraged to do so via special incentives. The government has put in place an arsenal of both fiscal and financial incentives to attract investors including the diaspora. The Minister of the Small and Mediums-sized Enterprises, Social Economy and Handicraft, Achille Bassilekin III during the July 9 audience with the parliamentarians noted that Cameroonians and migrants benefit from technical and financial support of his ministry for several years now and there is a fertile ground for the accompaniment of Cameroon diaspora. The Investment Promotion Agency, One-stop Shop, Enterprise Upgrading Office amongst others, are some of the structures created by the State to encourage investment. Cognizant of the crucial role the diaspora can play in fostering economic development, the National Development Strategy 2020-2030 recognises the place of the diaspora in its financial development system component. Here, the powers that be, see the diaspora as financial resource through its remittances with FCFA 5,940 billion transferred to Cameroon in between 2005 and 2019 for example. The strategy states that the government will intensify its move to attract funds from foreign investors and the diaspora. This lends credence to the participation of the diaspora in the Major National Dialogue during which its role in the nation’s development was examined and far reaching recommendations arrived at amongst which was the creation of a transnational investment and development agency for the diaspora and the issue of dual nationality.

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