Post COVID-19 Support: Cameroon Gov’t, Arab Bank & United Nations Dev’t Programme Revamp SMEs with USD 21Million Project

A convention was officially signed on September 27, 2022, in Yaounde between Cameroon’s government represented by Minister Alamine Ousmane Mey of economy, planning and regional development and UNDP’s Resident Representative, Jean Luc Stalon.

photo credit: UNDP communication office

On Tuesday, 27th September 2022, the conference hall of the ministry of economy, planning and regional development, MINEPAT, in Yaounde played host to the official signing ceremony of a three-year partnership convention worth 21 Million US Dollars. The said accord signed between the government and UNDP is a tripartite donation that is expected to revamp the private sector affected by COVID-19. The total budget allocated to this project has been sequenced as follows: The Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa attributes 18.9 Million USD (loan to the government of Cameroon) while UNDP grants 1.050.000 USD and the government 1.050.000 USD.

According to Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme, Jean Luc Stalon, the three-year project that will be on rails in the days ahead, is a great relief for small and medium-sized enterprises that witnessed an economic regression or downfall due to the COVID-19 pandemic disease.

The 21 Million US Dollars project comes as a result of a fruitful collaboration between the government and the United Nations Development Programme anticipated in the aftermath of COVID-19 and set-up reflections since 2020.

Mr. Jean Luc Stalon

“When COVID-19 impacted the world and also Cameroon, we anticipated the fact that the impact felt will not only be on public health systems but will equally be on the social and economic domains. In this regard, we anticipated by building a response plan that included the aspects of economic and social recovery after the pandemic. It is a very important project that will be implemented by UNDP in partnership with the ministry of small and medium enterprises.” Jean Luc Stalon said.

Mr. Stalon outlined the fact that, through this other key project, small and medium-sized enterprises in Cameroon will be able to have access to credit facilities, improve their capacities and business environment. He insisted on the fact that small and medium-sized enterprises have a full capacity of employees nationwide and should be supported for better returns in the country’s economy.

Speaking on behalf of Cameroon’s government, the Minister of economy, planning and regional development, Alamine Ousmane Mey said the officially signed partnership accord has seen the daylight thanks to the joint efforts of the government and the United Nations Development Programme.

“We want to address three important aspects. The first one is: building back their capacity, productivity and getting back to the market; the second aspect is about access to financing since they have lost a good number of their assets. They need some additional financing to be able to build back their production capacity and lastly, it is about improving their business environment such that small and medium-sized enterprises which are in great number, that (more than 90% of the private sector enterprises), deserve important financial support. We have received these finances as a state from the Arab bank for development in Africa, of more than 21 Million US Dollars in total and which shall cover a three-year programme targeting small and medium-sized enterprises in the Center, Littoral, South-West, North-West, West and Far-North regions….”

Minister Alamine Ousmane Mey

Minister Alamine Ousmane said: the government and international partners have together worked on some mechanisms that will help address the post-COVID-19 crisis and current crises affecting our economy. He pointed out the fact that small and medium-sized enterprises are a milestone in the development of Cameroon’s economy and need to be fully supported after the COVID-19 crisis which caused a lot of ravages and crippled the autonomy of local entrepreneurs.

“We faced this crisis and we also anticipate on how the new crises are also going to impact our production capacity as a state. And more importantly, it is about constructing a long-term resilience of our economic sector mainly made up of small and medium-sized enterprises, and to be able to properly support our markets; to be able to properly produce locally because we believe that, small and medium-sized enterprises are key elements and partners who receive through the ministry of small and medium-sized enterprises, social economy and handicrafts and other international donors support for advancement…”

Another key issue outlined by Minister Alamine Ousmane Mey while speaking to the press was that of, increasing digital start-ups. He said the critical role played by start-up enterprises has been examined by the government which believes in empowering innovative businesses in this domain with financial and transformative support as well as advisory services to develop themselves.

As implementing partners of the project, UNDP has reaffirmed its commitment to work hand in hand with the government and its full support in building better lives for the population.

Yet, as underscored by UNDP, the different strategic interventions of this project are focused on core priorities of the NDS30 and the 2030 sustainable Development Goals notably goals number 1 and 8 stressing on: no poverty; Decent work and economic growth respectively.

Elise Kenimbeni

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