UNCTAD’s Digital Government Platform Has Brought 25,000 Cameroonian Companies into the Formal Sector, Creating Jobs in Difficult Times

Cameroon-Opening-CopyrightEU

Cameroon-Opening-CopyrightEUSince 2016, residents in Douala, Yaoundé and Garoua and their surrounding regions can create their businesses through UNCTAD’s eRegistrations online platform. Over 25,000 businesses have now been created this way.

The platform is marketed by the national SME promotion agency (APME) as mybusiness.cm, via its network of business creation centres (CFCEs). It was funded by the European Union.

Cameroonian SMEs mostly operate in the informal sector and suffer from a lack of relations with public authorities. By formalizing, SMEs and their employees may have access to loans, insurance and legal protection, and contribute taxes and social security.

The use of the platform has also led to the standardization of operations in the CFCEs. The automation of registrations online now means that business creations are processed within 72 hours. This compares favourably with the 3.1 day average across the European Union.

The platform offers real-time and accurate data on the businesses being created across the North, Central and Litoral regions.

Mr. Jean-Marie Badga, Director-General of APME notes:

“We can now collect information on what companies are being created and in which sectors. We also know more about the age, gender and location of our entrepreneurs. This is going to help us design our economic policies, particularly for our post-Covid recovery.”

The shift from paper-based systems to an online platform has brought other benefits too. Mr. Badga adds:

“With an online platform my staff could continue operating during the Covid crisis. Further, this tool helps them be more productive. They spend more time advising entrepreneurs and less time doing administration.”

The platform has been enthusiastically adopted by Cameroon’s private sector.

Twenty-eight year-old accountant, Aboubakar Ousmane helps clients create 20 to 30 companies a year. 

“The MyBusiness platform allowed me to save time and money,” he says. “I can submit my file through my office and follow it without travelling and the feedback allows me to know precisely when to go to the CFCE to withdraw my file.”

“I think that we must encourage the use of this platform both for |business services] professionals but also for the average Cameroonian who will find enormous advantages.”

cameroon-katie-taga-CopyrightEUKatie Taga manages a construction company, set up through the platform.

“I could get the documents necessary to launch my business in 72 hours. With mybusiness.cm business owners save time and money. We should encourage such initiatives here.”

Since 2016, the European Union has been supporting Cameroon to strengthen the capacities of its economic operators and to promote an institutional environment that is more conducive to business.

The European Delegation in the country recently announced that the programme in the three regions had achieved positive results and that it would be extended to four other CFCEs, in Maroua, Limbe, Bertoua and Ngaoundere.

“This extension will be an opportunity to improve the platform by integrating more services set aside during the pilot phase of the business creation electronic platform,” it added.

Reproduced from www.unctad.org

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