Cameroon hosted the International Investment Forum, dubbed “Investir au Cameroun” (Investing in Cameroon), last week at the Yaounde Conference Centre. This forum brought together business minds who shared and learned of the wonderful business climate the country offers. During this Investir au Cameroun forum, Cameroon’s capabilities of attracting business investors were in focus.
As a longtime banker & entrepreneur I've learned how to spot a good investment & can affirm that Cameroon is indeed a great place to invest
— Tony O. Elumelu, CON (@TonyOElumelu) May 18, 2016
Among the attendees was African’s visionary entrepreneur and philanthropist, Tony Elumelu , the Chairman of Heirs Holdings, the United Bank for Africa, Transcorp and founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation.
It is no secret that the country is revered by many as one of Africa’s best-kept secrets in the areas of fishery, agriculture, hydroelectricity sources, mining, soils, climatic conditions and topography.
Below are the highlights of what Mr. Elumelu thinks about Cameroon as captured from his address during the Investir au Cameroun Conference.
“This is not only a good time for Cameroon to be having this conversation, it is indeed a smart time to be having it”, said the businessman.
He mentioned that the giant economies of Africa such as South Africa, Nigeria and Angola are dealing with some economic challenges. But countries like Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire and Cameroon are experiencing economic growth.
“As a long-term banker and entrepreneur I’ve learnt how to spot a good investment and I’m pleased to affirm to all investors present here that Cameroon is indeed a great place to invest. I speak from experience and I know this because UBA, which I chair and which serves over 11 million customers in 19 African countries including Cameroon, started operations here in 2008 and we have been here ever since.
“…My experience operating in Cameroon in 14 branches shows that you have very good human capital in Cameroon. I say this because in the 8 years of operation in Cameroon we have had to export from Cameroon 3 people as CEOs of UBA”, said Tony Elumelu
He also stated that he held discussions with the Minister in charge of land to kindly allocate portions of lands in Douala and Yaounde for UBA to build their head offices. “Investors take decisions like this only where and when they are comfortable . And we are doing this because we have confidence in the business environment…” Said Mr. Elumelu.
He went on to say that investors want to go to countries or economies where there is vibrant entrepreneurship. And if Cameroon wants to attract investment to the country, the government has to provide an enabling environment for entrepreneurs to operate. Let charity start from home.
His dream for Cameroon
In a passionate tone of voice Mr. Elumelu said,
“My dream for Cameroon is that in the next few years, not I but a Cameroonian “Tony Elumelu” entrepreneur will be standing on this stage telling you of his or her investment in Cameroon and how it is creating thousands of jobs and generating revenues for the government of Cameroon while making profit amid the local demands.”
“I would like my Foundation, the Tony Elumelu Foundation, to partner with the government of Cameroon to put into place concrete programs and policies that encourage more young Cameroonians to start businesses and to support them to succeed. Tough registration hurdles, multiple tax jurisdictions, lack of access to finance, etc, can indeed extinguish millions of businesses before they start”, Mr. Elumelu added.
He wrapped it all with these words “…I am a long term investor in Cameroon and a happy one at that. I invite you all to join me and invest in Cameroon.”