By Shout-Africa.com Cameroon Correspondent – An information campaign recently launched in the port city of Douala seeks to enhance the processing of timber.
The Minister of Forestry and Wildlife, Philip Ngole Ngwese, has launched an information campaign and awareness-raising about the organization, operation and implementation of Cameroon’s Domestic Timber Market, known by its French acronym as MIB, in a bid to enhance its functioning.
Like in other sectors, lack of information in the forestry sector slowed the development of the domestic market. Despite that the cooperation and support of partners has intensified over the past ten years, the need to revitalize the market continues to shape government decisions since 2012.
In 2004, Cameroon became the first producer of logs from Central Africa, with 2,731,000 cubic metres for a forest covering more than 22.5 million hectares. At the processing level, the installed capacity in 2007 rose to 2.2 million cubic metres.
The local timber market is marked by exports, due to the high demand for forest products outside the country, and the great potential of wood to generate foreign exchange. According to a 2005 study, the operationalization of MIB will enable the enhancement and further processing of timber and forest species.
“The forest sector needs to undertake a radical change to move from the current low competitiveness. Characterized by major international challenges, the domestic timber market and wood craft is an indispensable promotional product, as it promotes transparency, fair competition and legality of timber traded,” the Minister Ngole Ngwese noted. He pointed to the fact that “The production of the timber industry is in a stagnant trend if not downward because of the persistent logging of natural forests at the expense of the establishment of forest plantations, and the absence of local processing “.
Given this situation, the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife has undertaken a series of reforms and actions to encourage sustainable transformation of wood. Some results have been recorded. Of the current 21.5 million hectares of forests of which 17.5 million hectares are commercial forests, to date 114 Forest Management Units have been created over an area of 7,252,759 hectares. Ninety-nine of them are assigned, while about 43 are under certification. Forty-five per cent of concessions are granted to nationals and 55 per cent expatriates.
The Minister also visited some decentralized services of the Ministry in Douala, where he instructed for greater transparency in the sector. The contribution of the forestry sector to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is estimated at 40 billion in terms of direct taxes annually. Additionally it contributes to job creation, fuel consumption, creating business opportunities, among others.