Truth: Potpourri of Cameroon's economy.

An evaluation of the Cameroon economy could be likened to the tale of three blind men and the elephant.

The first blind man touching the elephant on the leg said it was a tree, the second bumped into its trunk, and concluded was a snake, while the third touching the tail said it was a broom.

In recent times, the Cameroon economy has been given varying scores by the African Development Bank, the World Bank, Economist Intelligence and S&P Global Ratings Financial Agency.

In a release last Friday March 24, S&P Global Ratings, upgraded Cameroon’s long and short-term sovereign credit ratings in local and foreign currencies from “CCC+/C” to “B-/” with a stable outlook.

According to economic analysts, it is a confirmation by the international community that the Cameroon government can be trusted when it comes to managing financial matters of the nation.

Despite continuous weak governance, the agency expressed optimism that risks to the country’s treasury liquidity position and payment discipline have eased, in its justification of the improved rating.

“Our position is based on measures contained in the IMF’s ongoing programme to improve the cash management framework. This should alleviate the technical challenges that led to Cameroon's default in 2022,” the experts stated.

The S&P Global Ratings agency, nevertheless, notes some dark spots, notably the security risks in the English-speaking part of the country and around the Lake Chad Basin, as well as other thorny questions linked to the succession of President Paul Biya, which the assessors say considerably increase uncertainty.

But the World Bank looks at it differently, writing that: "...the rising cost of living, particularly food prices, is having a negative impact on households, especially the most vulnerable. Poverty levels remain high and largely stagnant due to weak economic growth, combined with faster population growth".

For the African Development Bank, which is a major lender to Cameroon: "The risk of over indebtedness is high. The banking and financial system is weakening due primarily to the nonperforming loans ratio (nearly 15%), as well as strong exposure to the outstanding debts of public enterprises...".

Analysis and forecast of the Economist Intelligence, one of the world's most respected sources of economic information, notes that: "The security situation is under increasing threat from armed insurgencies in the North West and South West Regions and in the Far North Region”.   

All the organisations like the three blind men are right in their various analyses, depending on what angle they took, just like the three bind men were not wrong.

Those who to me have the unblemished right answers from "experience" are the downtrodden "wretched of the earth" as Frank Fanon would say.

They live in sub-urban communities and even Yaounde for days without electricity, which is one of the preponderant parameters of economic growth.

I hear the lawmakers too are complaining about the noise from a generator being used at their hotel in Yaounde. I wonder why they did not provide their hotel with immunity from electricity cuts, especially as the unpaid ENEO bills are said to run into millions. 

When electricity is even sporadically available, it is often too low to turn on a fan in the heat of climate change and that's economic growth?

Of course, those who propagate the doctrine of the economy performing well and inflation manageable, are the very few at the top, overdue retirement and swimming in affluence.

But the truth remains that the common man on the street needs to have the "feel good effect," which is surely not there.


Postscript: It's a recession when your neighbour loses his job; it's a depression when you lose yours - Harry S. Truman. 

about author About author : Asong Ndifor

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