Monday, March 18, 2013

A taste of the New Bamenda

New CamCCull Building at Commercial Avenue - Bamenda

The North West Region of Cameroon is one of the most amazing cities in Africa yet to be discovered.  It is strategically positioned to be the next business frontier, linking the CEMAC and ECOWAS regions of West and Central Africa respectively, thus accommodating French and English speaking visitors alike.

It is not hard to notice its friendliness as you walk the streets of any of the seven divisions.  The diversity of the peoples and tribes has turned out to unite rather than divide. As a city still to encounter an economic boom, you will find a town waiting to be developed with opportunities all around.

In 1985, the Cameroon Peoples Democratic Movement, the ruling party that has been in power for the last three decades now was officially launched in Bamenda, the capital of the North West. The Social Democratic Front, which is currently the leading opposition party in Cameroon and the stronghold of Ni John Fru Ndi its leader, was also launched in Bamenda in the early 90s. These events made the Region a centre for political activities in Cameroon and as such it attracted violence and destruction of private and public property. However, over the years, with a recent change in political ideologies, the peoples of the Region are slowly turning their attention from politics to economic development. We are witnessing the town’s gradual transformation into the next business frontier in Africa.  According to statistics on the ground, between 2009 to 2013, Bamenda has emerged as one of the fastest growing cities in Cameroon with an estimated 20% growth rate, overtaking the South West and Western Regions respectively to comfortably position itself as the third largest economy in the nation. Bamenda holds the record as leaders in educational facilities, transportation, mechanized agriculture, animal husbandry and microfinance institutions.

According to economists, with the road linking Bamenda to Enugu nearing completion, the investment potential of the Region is greater than any period in the history of the city.

In this New Bamenda, more wealth is being created more than ever, new and innovative ideas circulate freely,  entertainment and fashion trends are emerging; all in a bit to give a good live to the 1.800,000 inhabitants.

Despite the challenges that the average businessman in Bamenda faces like limited access to finance (even though Bamenda has the largest money reserves in the country) and the region of origin effect, the city is less aggressive to new concepts and is more and more open to the application of modern ideologies and novel systems of providing services.

Investment Avenues

1)      Food processing.

Contrary to the notion that Bamenda has no industries, the Region has produced one of the worlds’s largest food processing industries in the likes of Ndawara tea estate, cultivating and exporting tons of tea to the world. Institutions like the North West Cooperative Association (NWCA), the pioneers in the food processing industry who once exported coffee and cocoa as raw materials now exports finished products like COLA COCOA (processed coffee) to the world. Investors should be looking for opportunities in this sector with the consideration that food processing now stands as Bamenda’s biggest export industry, (Education would be first if properly developed). The creation of other industries like DANSAF and CAMFOODS are pointers that this industry has potential.  The availability of raw materials, the fertility of the soil and the willingness and desire of locals to work hard are factors favoring the industry and potential investors.

2)      Entertainment
In recent times, Bamenda has exported more movies to the outside world than any other town in Cameroon. With up to ten films and at least two serials produced and released every year, this young industry despite its shortcomings has found its home in the region of North West.
Just as in film, music too has a bright future, making Bamenda a new showbiz hub. Researchers in music are currently undergoing a survey of sampling the music of the Region to create a unique musical genre that reflects the cultural identity and an international appeal at the same time.  However, the industry is experiencing a new phase as far as creativity and style is concerned. The immense musical talent in the region cannot be overlooked. Entertainment in general is projected at becoming the biggest expert from the Region the 2015.
Investors should take keen interest in this industry since its benefits are huge and has related businesses like fashion trends, cabarets, recording studios, theaters, cinemas, concert halls, pubs, music stores and marketing and distribution outlets.

3)      Housing.
Owning a house in the North West is second on the average North Westerner’s list of priorities, education being the first. It is part of the culture and tradition to personally own a house or at least a landed property, reason ¾ of all the cement produced in Cameroon comes to the Region. This has continuously created a demand for better and quality homes which calls for investment in the real estate sector.
Potential investors in this sector should take advantage of the inhabitants’ love for acquiring homes to create a new industry.

To be continued…

1 comment:

  1. As the economy of Bamenda sky rougets, there will be very fast social development of the city. The city is made up of a diverse community of people including the natives of the seven villages making up the area of the city, Fulanis, Bamileke,other Cameroonian ethnic groups and foreiners from Nigeria and other African countries. This makes the city a tourist attraction in the country which only adds to boost the economy. 99% of the inhabitants speak English or Pidgin English. Many of the inhabitants also speak French. I am proud to be from Bamenda.