Yaounde (National Times) – Last year, more than six pharmaceutical production companies started operations in Cameroon. This is in addition to the cocoa processing plants that are sprawling across the country and many other new factories built quietly in the country’s urban centres. Nothing so remarkable about that, perhaps, but these new structures are the face of a silent revolution going on in Cameroon even as the country battles high insecurity, economic instability and worsening levels of corruption.
The rebirth of pharmaceutical producers in Cameroon is coming after several companies had previously failed to establish their presence in the sector. Meditech never made it past renting a plot, Diamond Pharmaceutical raised money, bought land and built a building, but that was it. Kakwa Biopharm started production of a Malaria drug and was shut down shortly thereafter by WHO for quality reasons.
However, with new training programs in Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), and management training programs specifically for the pharmaceutical environment new industrialists are returning to the sector to spark a new phase in Cameroon’s drug development. Genemark is producing an estimated 5% of the country’s needs for three pediatric syrups. It is expanding, and working to reach compliance with international standards.
In aggro-processing, out of the 253,510 tons of cocoa officially marketed in Cameroon during the 2017-201, 53,494 tons were processed locally. 53,403 tons had been processed by industrials and 91 tons by small-scale processors.
The government in partnership with Ivorian economic operator Koné Dossongui and, recently built a FCFA 50 billion cocoa processing plant in the port city of Kribi. This will raise the amount of cocoa processing in Cameroon to over 100,000 tons.
In April this year, Neo Industry, commissioned newly built cocoa processing unit in the town of Kekem, according to Doing Business in Cameroon. With its annual capacity of 32,000 tons, this unit will increase the national production of cocoa butter and powder to over half the total number of cocoa produced in Cameroon.
The project received XAF13 billion from Société commerciale de banque (SCB Cameroun), a local subsidiary of Moroccan Attijariwafa Bank, and fund was guaranteed up to XAF6 billion by AfDB’s African Guarantee Fund (AGF). In addition to the tax and customs incentives offered by the Cameroonian State, it also benefited, in June 2016, from direct public financing of XAF1.2 billion, as part of the Agropoles project, implemented by the economy ministry.
In the next series of Uncovering Cameroon’s Quiet Industrial Revolution we will reveal other sectors experiencing the change and the challenges these companies are face