Commenting during a roundtable organised during the international economic conference which took place in Yaoundé from 17 to 18 May 2016, Paul Kammogne Fokam, 2nd fortune in sub-Saharan francophone Africa according to Forbes magazine, suggested to the Cameroonian government to strengthen the economic cooperation with Nigeria through a formal economic partnership agreement (EPA). “Investors want the government to start negotiations for the signature of economic partnership agreements with Nigeria instead of the European Union”, he declared.
Through this proposal, the founder of the Afriland First Bank group, who also deals with the MC2, the 2nd largest network of microfinance establishments of the country, has thus taken a stance opposite to Jose Manuel Barroso. At the opening of the Yaoundé conference, this former president of the European Commission congratulated the Cameroonian government on having signed a provisional EPA with the EU, and encouraged other African countries to move in the same direction considering, he explained, of the opportunities offered by the EPAs in terms of investments growth and new markets.
Upon further consideration however, Jose Manuel Barroso and Paul Kammogne Fokam both seem to agree on the benefits of economic integration as an investment accelerator. “Our countries on their own cannot do anything. It is with the others that we can create a sufficiently attractive market to capture investments and trade”, Mr Barroso pointed out.
However, if for the former Portuguese Prime Minister Cameroon’s and Africa’s hope in terms of investment growth could be through the signing of EPAs with the EU, the above-mentioned Cameroonian industrialist, on his part, rather favours EPAs with Nigeria, the most populated country in Africa (over 150 million inhabitants) and first economy of the continent with whom Cameroon shares about 1,500 km of borders, and whose standards to be applied to products are certainly less rigid that those in force in the European Union.