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Cameroon’s 2015/16 cocoa production rises 16% y/y

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

YAOUNDE (Reuters) – Cameroon’s cocoa production rose nearly 16 percent year-on-year to 269,495 tonnes in the 2015/16 season, National Cocoa and Coffee Board (NCCB) data released on Thursday showed.

Africa’s fourth-largest cocoa producer has targeted annual production of 600,000 tonnes by 2020. The 2016/17 season opened on Wednesday.

The 2015/16 figure surpassed the central African country’s previous record of 240,000 tonnes during the 2010/11 season. Output since then has fluctuated due to pests, crop diseases and a prolonged dry season.

Cameroon’s government is trying to encourage young people and women to grow the crop and to prevent illegal export to neighboring countries.

Last year, Cameroon announced plans to double its cocoa processing capacity to about 30 percent of its total production, by adding 10 new processing units.

Cameroon’s cocoa season runs from Aug. 1 to July 1. The main harvest is from October to January/February, followed by a light crop harvest period from April/May to June/July.



(Reporting By Sylvain Andzongo; writing by Aaron Ross; Editing by Adrian Croft and Alexandra Hudson)

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Respected Cameroonian economist joins African Development Bank

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Featured

Célestin Monga

Célestin Monga has been named Vice President of the ADB and will take charge of governance and knowledge management at the pan-African financial institution.

Célestin Monga, a distinguished Cameroonian economist with a long career in global finance, has been named Vice President of the African Development Bank.

Monga will be in charge of governance and knowledge management at the pan-African financial institution.

Since 2014, Monga was deputy managing director of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization.

Prior to that, he spent 17 years at the World Bank, including working as senior economist for Europe and Central Asia. He also led a World Bank team that reviewed policies in the office of the vice president in charge of development economics and was a director for the structural transformation program in the African region.

Among top 5 economists in Africa

Monga also launched several initiatives, including debt relief for poor, indebted countries, and development of financial practices now used in many countries to protect against external financial disruption.

In 2012, he was named by Jeune Afrique magazine as one of the five best African economists. He has published economic analysis with some of the most prominent economists in the world, including Nobel laureates in economics.

Monga favors an economic integration model for Africa, in which markets coordinate more closely with an eye to exporting to the West.  “If you are a group of neighboring countries but all poor and producing the same raw materials, it is useless to invest in infrastructure to connect because there is no market or purchasing power among the others. It is necessary to seek markets where they are, especially in the West,” Monga said.

Monga holds a post-graduate degree from the University of Paris-Sorbonne. He was Mason Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and continued graduate studies at Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He received his PhD in France, at the University of Pau.

He has lectured at Boston University in the United States and the University of Bordeaux in France.

Writer and editor in economics

He is the author of several books and served as editor of the economy section of the New Encyclopedia of Africa.

His latest book on economics is the “Oxford Handbook of Africa and Economics” (2015), co-published with Justin Yifu Lin, former vice president and chief economist of the World Bank. Mongo is co-author of the forthcoming book from titled “Handbook of Structural Transformation.” His works, which explore aspects of economic and political development, have been translated into several languages and serve as teaching tools in many universities worldwide. His next book about the challenges of modernity in Africa, will be published in September.

Monga said he was “very excited” to be joining the African Development Bank at a time when its new president, Akinwumi Adesina, is plotting a new strategic course for the financial institution that promises to improve standards of living in Africa.

Bank shifts course

Adesina, who joined the bank in September, adopted a strategy of “power for all” or universal access to electricity for the continent. Lack of electricity, he said, is the greatest obstacle to development of Africa.

“The development of the energy infrastructure for Africa will drive more rapid economic and social development of the continent by reducing the cost of doing business, powering industrial growth, unlocking entrepreneurship, improving education and health systems and deepening financial services,” Adesina said.

Other priorities of the new leadership at the African Development Bank include increased investments in the private sector and a more “activist” approach to infrastructure development by helping resolve legal and regulatory bottlenecks that slow progress.

“Africa is living a crucial moment in its history and I am delighted to join the team to carry out this program,” Mongo said.

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Alamine Ousmane Mey: Cameroon’s economic mastermind

Comments (1) Africa, Featured, Leaders

Alamine Ousmane Mey

Cameroon’s Finance Minister has energized the country’s economy through reform, infrastructure developments and his own determination.

Cameroon’s Finance Minister, Alamine Ousmane Mey, has been lauded as a brilliant fiscal tactician, a shrewd manager and a facilitator of new business enterprises. Earlier this month, Mey was recognized as Finance Minister of the Year at the prestigious African Banker Awards 2016. The honor is well deserved. While not everyone will have heard of Mey, he is the mastermind driving Cameroon’s fast developing economy, and his recent award gives credit to an exceptional career.

Education and banking success

Born in Kousseri in 1966, Mey grew up in an upper-middle class family. He later gained a solid financial education by studying abroad in Germany, Belgium and Turkey. Mey studied electro-technical engineering alongside banking, which bestowed him with a keen understanding of modern economics.

Upon his return to Cameroon in 1993, Mey obtained a job with the CCEI Bank, which later evolved into Afriland First Bank. He rose swiftly through the ranks, and in 2003 he was appointed General Manager of Afriland First Bank, which was the only non-foreign owned private financial institution at the time. Mey quickly ushered in a new era of success at the company. Afriland had a key role in financing the Cameroonian economy and driving consumer spending. In 2010 the bank issued the equivalent to US$ 567m in credit, an astronomical amount by regional standards. Under his leadership the bank saw rapid growth, and quickly became one of the major banks in the region that still enjoys a strong international reputation to this day.

Government career

Mey’s successes at Afriland bank did not go unnoticed. In 2011 he was offered the role of Minister of Finance, despite no previous government experience. He quickly undertook a range of financial reforms which increased real term government revenues and cracked down on misspending. He also refocused government investment towards sustainable projects that have driven growth in the economy.

Mey has carefully borrowed money to finance key infrastructure developments outside the capacity of the government budget; this has been a particularly astute move, as the loans have been used to target under-developed sectors of the economy with high potential gains, both in monetary terms, and for the people of Cameroon. He highlighted his strategy saying, “Yes, we will borrow, but we will focus on life-changing projects.” In doing so, Cameroon has grown its economy, while comfortably servicing the loans which kick-started the process.

Lom Pangar Pipeline modification

Lom Pangar Pipeline modification

Mey has since has earned a reputation as an expert in putting together and overseeing ambitious projects incorporating multiple parties. One such example was the recent completion of the $86m Lom Pangar Pipeline modification. This complex infrastructure scheme was cost-shared between the Cameroonian government, the World Bank, and the contractor COTCO who undertook the project. The scheme has been heralded as a great success as it was finished safely, on time and under budget, while indirectly benefiting thousands of local Cameroonians. Christian Lenoble the general manager of COTCO, praised the efficiency of the working relationship: “The collaboration between the project and government was superb. To me, it was a key factor in our success in completing our work on time and within budget.”

Now versus then

Before Mey took the helm, Cameroon’s growth stood at a middling 3.3% in 2010. Since Mey took over, the economy has grown year on year and is estimated to hit 5.5% for the financial year 2015. This performance is particularly impressive when considered against both international and regional trends. Many of the world’s nations have struggled to achieve any meaningful growth since the financial crisis. Similarly, many of Cameroon’s neighbors have posted disappointing growth figures in the years 2014 and 2015, largely due to falling global commodity prices or political instability. Cameroon has bucked both of these trends, thanks in part to its economic diversification. Initially, strong commodities exports allowed Cameroon to shrug off the worst of the global financial crisis, but Mey realized the economy was still vulnerable. Under his counsel, the government implemented diversification schemes to develop the construction, agriculture, transport and energy sectors. The fruition of these strategies has allowed Cameroon to largely sidestep the commodities crash, marking another success for the Minister of Finance.

No one would disagree that Cameroon still faces big challenges ahead, but Mey is not one to rest on his laurels. He is committed to meet a range of development targets set by the IMF, and given his past achievements, there is a very good chance of him doing so. Ultimately, the future of Cameroon’s economy appears to be in the strongest of hands.

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Kori-Odan: Making Africa’s mark on the video game industry

Comments (0) Africa, Featured, Leaders

Olivier Madiba

A Cameroon developer is one of the first to focus a game on the mythology of the continent.

With the release of one of the first African-themed computer video games produced on the continent, Cameroon’s Olivier Madiba, 30, hopes to shake up a global industry dominated by white game developers who create white heroes.

Madiba’s company, Kiro’o Games, launched the PC-based “Aurion: Legacy of Kori-Odan,” in April on the United States platform Steam to positive reviews.

To Madiba, it represents more than a video game, Madiba said.

“Our dream is bigger than that. We want to build a bridge between the gaming industry and Africa,” Madiba, the co-founder chief executive officer of Kiro’o Games said.

Game based on African myth

Based on African mythology, the game features Enzo Kori-Odan and his wife, Erine Evou, as they try to take back his throne in a land called Zama after his brother-in-law stages a coup and ousts them.

The game was a long time in the making. He first started talking to friends about making a game about Kori-Odan in 2003 while he was studying software development at the University of Yaoundé.

His father worked at a sugar factory and ran a video store in Douala when Madiba was growing up and video games became his obsession. However, since Cameroon has no video game industry, he could not find a career path in his own country.

After graduating from the university with a degree in computer science in 2009, Madiba taught himself how to create games on the internet and decided to start his own company, based on the Cameroon capital, Yaoundé.

Screenshot from Aurion

Screenshot from Aurion

Investors, Kickstarter campaign fund effort

Madiba launched the studio Kiro’o Games, in 2011, and his team began working on the game in earnest.

The studio, which has a staff of 20 artists and developers, raised $270,000 from investors and more than $55,000 in a successful Kickstarter campaign, which enabled them to complete the project.

When he was young, he had noticed few games had African heroes and the continent was often shown through the lens of war and crisis. Most games feature white heroes because most game developers are white, he said.

Game takes place in the future

Madiba wanted to change that with the story of “Aurion: Legacy of Kori-Odan,” an epic 2D adventure in which the usurped king and queen fight to regain their thrones from the evil brother-in-law.

While the story comes from African myth and tradition, the name adds an element of science fiction: The game takes place in a world that exists 10,000 years in the future on another planet far away from Earth.

Using African characters rather than the typical warriors and magicians of role-playing games, Madiba said he wanted to create a world where “Africa was on top.”

Other Africa studios are developing video games. In Nigeria, Maliyo develops smart phone games with African stories. In Kenya, Leti Arts creates puzzle games with local narratives.

Game captures international attention

But Aurion has captured much wider attention, enough that the U.S. State Department invited Madiba to participate in the 2016 Mandela Washington Fellowship Program, which is part of the Young African Leaders Initiative launched by President Obama.

In addition to being a Kickstarter Staff Pick and being featured in The Wall Street Journal, the game is receiving very good reviews, complimenting both the design and the storytelling.

It is available only for PC but Madiba hopes to develop it and other games with animation for mobile platforms as well. With low labor costs in Cameroon, he believes he can create a profitable business creating games that also tell the African story.

He hopes the game will help foster more diversity in games and create a better understanding of Africa. “Being African isn’t based on your color … It’s how you see the world and what you want to share.”

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Cameroon inflation rises but can still hit 3% target

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

YAOUNDE (Reuters) – Cameroon’s inflation rate rose to 3.4 percent in the first half of the year but the country can still hit its full-year target of 3 percent, the national statistics bureau said on Monday.

Inflation rose due to increased transport costs and the impact of the country’s fight against Boko Haram, which has driven up prices in the Far North region where the Islamist militant group has staged dozens of attacks.

Cameroon is participating in a regional task force led by neighboring Nigeria against the group.

“The overall rate during the last twelve months is largely due to the surge of 14.5 percent in prices of transport, 5.2 percent for restaurants and hotels and 4.1 percent for alcohol and tobacco,” a statement said.

In September, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) revised Cameroon’s 2015 growth forecast up to 6 percent, saying it could be higher but for a drop in oil prices and the Boko Haram operation.

The IMF said inflation would remain below 3 percent in 2015.

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Tower Resources signs deal for Cameroon offshore oil block

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters, UK

YAOUNDE (Reuters) – Tower Resources plans to invest at least $43 million over seven years to explore for oil in a shallow-water block in Cameroon’s Rio del Rey basin, the company and Cameroonian officials said on Wednesday.

“Our entry into Cameroon marks a shift in our risk profile from frontier to proven basins and introduces an asset with existing discoveries into the Tower portfolio,” Tower CEO Graeme Thomson said in a statement.

The Africa-focused oil and gas exploration company has a 100 percent interest in the 119 sq km (46 sq mile) Thali block.

Under a production sharing contract signed in Cameroon’s capital Yaounde, an initial exploration phase will last three years with an option to renew for two subsequent two-year phases.

Tower has the option of relinquishing the block at the end of each phase, provided the agreed minimum work has been completed.

The Rio del Rey basin lies in the eastern part of the Niger Delta and has to date produced over 1 billion barrels of oil, with an estimated 1.2 billion barrels of remaining reserves, according to Tower’s website.

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