As prices of basic commodities continue to bite Cameroonians, the country’s Minister of Territorial Administration, Paul Atanga Nji has blamed “unscrupulous businessmen” who engage in price speculation and create “artificial scarcity.”
Mr. Nji was speaking Monday, August 8 at the start of the 2nd-semester conference of Regional Governors taking place in Yaounde.
“In retaining the general theme: administrative authorities and security challenges in a period of socio-economic challenges we want to take cognizance of national conditions,” Nji said.
He said the Minister of Trade, Luc Magloire Mbarga Atangana will make a presentation on the steps the government has taken to smother the effects of inflation, which he said, “results very often from speculation provoked by some unscrupulous businessmen who create artificial scarcity.”
Prices have been rising in Cameroon, especially in the wake of the Russian war on Ukraine. The price of a leave of bread-a staple in Cameroonian households for instance has risen by 40%.
Francis Dzenyuy, a bakery owner in Yaounde tells Timescape Magazine that he has lost nearly 100% of his turnover and has been forced to lay off 90% of the staff.
“It’s only that I can’t just close a bakery like this,” he said, “because there is no alternative. Otherwise, this looks like a waste of time. You can’t imagine that I used to make a profit of about 20 USD on every 50kg of flour. That profit margin has fallen to just about 1 USD.”
While government blames both the Ukraine war and speculators for the inflationary spiral that is now straining household income, critics say Cameroon’s over-dependence on imports is to blame.
Cameroon imports almost all its wheat from Russia and Ukraine, after abandoning its wheat fields years ago.
The government now wants to revive production, with the country’s President, Paul Biya ordering the disbursement of some CFA F 10 billion (15,547,060.00 USD) for that purpose.