(Business in Cameroon) – According to Eleni Gabre-Madhine (photo), CEO of the Eleni firm, which has been conducting a feasibility study on the creation of an agricultural raw materials exchange in Cameroon, this future business hot spot for buyers and sellers of commodities sees the potential for it “to quickly become the CEMAC zone’s trading hub.”
On April 9, 2014 in Yaoundé, results of the first on-site investigations by the firm in four regions (Centre, West, North-West and South-West) have been encouraging. During their first seven weeks of work, the Eleni firm’s teams were able to see on Cameroonian markets, including the most distant, the increased presence of Nigerians, Gabonese and Chadians to replenish their stock in Cameroon. A trading platform like CCX should help to modernise and boost the commercial collaboration between Cameroon and neighbouring countries.
The products the Eleni firm have already been eyeing for the CCX are rice, corn, sorghum, beans, cassava, palm oil, cocoa and coffee. Even if their production is low, as noted by Eleni Gabre-Madhine and her team, the volumes currently being sold (excluding consumption needs) are promising as they vary between 85% (cocoa/coffee) and 35% (corn, beans, sorghum, etc.).
A CCX launch in 12 months? It’s possible!
The sale of these products on CCX seems all the more questionable, though, as the preliminary study presented in government reveals that the current path is fraught with hurdles. These mainly include the poor state of the roads in production zones, which increases transportation costs and makes market access difficult, mutual distrust between vendors and buyers, the total absence of price information on the market and warehouses, sales options restrictions which oblige producers to sell to the first buyer to cross their path.
But, despite the constraints raised concerning the sale of commodities, to which must be added Cameroon’s structural limitations in terms of the absence of cutting-edge technology, the Eleni firm is adamant that “the CCX project is feasible. […] With more constraints than what one finds in Cameroon, we were able to launch a commodities exchange in Ethiopia. I can say that there are lenders who had a good laugh when they found out that Ethiopia was planning to create an agricultural exchange. We believed in our project and we got there,”explained Eleni Gabre-Madhine.
She goes on to indicate that the Cameroon Commodities Exchange can be operational within a year after the completion of the feasibility study. “In Ethiopia, we did it in 18 months. With the experience we already have, we think that we can set-up the Cameroon Commodities Exchange in 12 months,” maintains the Eleni firm’s CEO.