A Network outpost in sub-Saharan Africa
We are happy to announce the membership of the first sub-Saharan country in the Enterprise Europe Network: Cameroon joined on 1 March 2016, becoming the 64th country in the Network.
"This is the start of a new dynamic for economic development," says Sandra Batey, consortium coordinator for EEN-Cameroon. "With the launch of our Network Business Cooperation Centre we aim to improve the business climate between small and medium-sized enterprises in the EU and in Cameroon."
Often described as Africa in miniature for its geological and cultural diversity, Cameroon may offer interesting economic opportunities for European small businesses.
The country's major export markets include long established European Network countries such as the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. The most important export products include petroleum (crude/refined), timber, cocoa and bananas.
Major import countries from Europe include Belgium, Luxemburg and France. The top import products include petroleum (crude/refined), ships, rice and pharmaceuticals.
"Cameroon has also got a competitive advantage in the Network as French and English are both official languages," says Paola Tolin, the European Network mentor from Italy, who spent a few months in Cameroon in 2004.
The Network in Cameroon
The Cameroonian consortium is currently composed of one single organisation: Enterprises du Cameroun (ECAM). ECAM is the primary employers' federation that represents the interests of small and medium-sized businesses in the country.
Apart from this representational role, ECAM offers business intelligence, financial training and business-to-business matchmaking services. ECAM is currently planning an extension of the consortium in order to broaden the geographical coverage and its client outreach.
"I am thrilled to be working with such a strategically important country in Africa. Our aim now is to set up a hub of central African Network countries in order to increase our presence in this region," says Eric Koch, country officer for Cameroon in the European Commission's Executive Agency for SMEs (EASME).
"EASME is grateful to the EU Delegation in the capital Yaoundé," says Eric. "The colleagues over there have been very helpful in the application process and will continue to support the consortium."
- Enterprise Europe Network Cameroon Project Coordinator: Sandra Batey
- EU Delegation Cameroon contact: Kathrin Renner
- Enterprise Europe Network Cameroon: Paola Tolin (Alps Consortium, Northern Italy)
- EASME Country Officer: Eric Koch
Douala is Cameroon's largest city and home to Central Africa's largest port.