This will pull together the resources of foreign based Cameroonians toward nation-building. Plans are underway to create a common fund abroad that could sponsor development projects in Cameroon. The fund, code-named “Cameroon Diaspora investment fund” seeks to serve as a unique fund that will pull together the resources of Cameroonians based abroad as part of their contribution to nation building here. London-based Cameroonian, Chris Nasah, who is Chairman of Cameroon Forum, made the disclosure last Friday during the maiden edition of Economic and Trade Forum that brought together development stakeholders in the country and citizens based abroad. The forum was meant to identify how Cameroonian Diaspora can be integrated into the development mainstream. A lot of Diaspora organisations, Chris Nasah said, already contribute to the development of their villages, towns but “we believe it could be formalised in terms of making it more productive”. They expressed desires for government to come up with a statement to work hand in hand with the Diaspora as well as a road map. “With a road map we can start working and setting together some milestones. This is the first conference of this kind. There should be another one but the Diaspora has to be involved in the planning process”, he said.
Like Chris, another London-based Cameroonian, Tecla Bahoken, said a proper recognition of the Diaspora as well as a thorough mapping of all Cameroonians based abroad would in no distant future yield enormous benefits to the home country. Like their peers who took part in the Yaounde forum, Chris and Tecla said their contribution could be multifaceted. “It will be in institutional development, trade and economy and promoting a positive image of Cameroon abroad”. They said there are also exchanges in terms of the charitable sector, especially social enterprise stating that the local communities have the skill to do a lot of things for themselves and all they need is an enabling environment. In a paper Chris presented in course of the forum titled, “Economic and trade challenges”, he expounded on the current international thinking about the Diaspora, from the World Bank, European Union and other players, the national situation vis-a –vis the policy that was enacted in 2005 about the Diaspora, what the government has done in terms of sending delegations abroad. He then advocated the facilitation of the process to set up of an investment fund, provision of tax breaks to Diaspora who want to come and invest in the country as well as tax breaks on the movement of charitable goods, among others.
The Minister of Trade, Luc Magloire Mbarga Atangana, Coordinator of the Yaounde forum, said government is unwavering in its efforts to get Diaspora onboard the development train. “Our target is not only to attract Diaspora but investors in general. Now we are working with the World Bank in order to improve the business climate in our country, there are reforms in the judiciary sector, customs and tax departments and an investor-friendly investment code. We need investors in the domains of social housing, mining; trade for I think they can do much in this area, like helping in the distribution of our products abroad”., the Minister assured.