Magazine article New African

Moving the Economy Forward

Magazine article New African

Moving the Economy Forward

Article excerpt

Cameroon has a pivotal place within Central Africa's economic grouping, providing important access routes to sea ports on the Gulf of Guinea for its landlocked neighbours. Recent developments in Cameroon's road and rail networks are set to drive the region's economic growth, as Stephen Williams reports.

Part and parcel of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD)'s vision for Central Africa is to connect all the capitals of Central Africa by a paved road. But currently only Yaounde (Cameroon) and Libreville (Gabon) have a metalled road in place.

The international donor community, principally the World Bank, IMF and the African Development Bank (AfDB) have pledged to support the Cameroonian government's efforts to develop modern, efficient transport infrastructure.

The Cameroon government has launched a 10-year development plan giving priority to infrastructure development. The government has been implementing a massive public investment programme, comprising a dozen large infrastructure projects, including roads, deep-sea ports and thermal and hydraulic power plants.

Cameroon attracted private-sector participation in the Douala port container terminal in 2004, but the port lags behind the average time for handling containers in sub-Saharan Africa and is approaching its maximum capacity.

Looking ahead, two new ports will help fill the demand for additional port facilities, as robust growth in the region continues.

Cameroon's road networks connect Chad and the Central African Republic--Cameroon's two land-locked neighbouring countries--to the Port of Douala and the Douala-Ngaoundere railway line.

The transport links between Douala and N'Djamena, have been described as the backbone of central Africa's transport infrastructure. It is calculated that, through rehabilitating the road and rail networks, as many as 3.5 million residents of Cameroon's Far North region (or about 20% of the country's population) will benefit. Last summer, a consortium led by Louis Berger won two contracts to undertake work supervision on the National Highway 9, on both sides of the Congo Brazzaville/ Cameroon border.

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Louis Berger has today 10 ongoing projects in Cameroon, and 20 projects completed in the country in the last 20 years. Louis Berger was selected by the Kribi Port Authority to supervise the earthworks for the platforms that will accommodate the port development.

Kribi Port is being constructed by the Chinese company, China Harbour Engineering Co.

Rail

Other international engineering and construction companies active in Cameroon include the Portuguese company Mota Engil, and the Belgian-based Prefarail. …

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