The African developmental State directs its main effort to industrialization process. Indeed, the development of a competitive industry is considered as a stepping stone to the economic and social structural transformation leading to the “emergence”. In many ways, the return of state-led development thus marked the African ambition to achieve an industrial-led development.
In the framework of the R4D project, Guive KHAN-MOHAMMAD focuses his research on this industrial issue in Cameroonian, Ivorian and Burkinabe contexts. By a close observation of industrial policies and practices, he intends to shed light on the political economy of the redeployement of developmental State in Africa.
His first fieldwork carried out in Cameroon between August and September will lead to a first paper:
“Beyond Chinese infrastructures in Cameroon : The arduous journey to an industrial-led development”
Abstract: In 2009, the Republic of Cameroon, through the Ministry of the Economy, Planning and Territorial Development, published a strategic document entitled “Cameroon Vision 2035”. With this planning document, the Cameroonian government intended to “formulate a proactive vision of long-term development” (DPPS, 2009, p.4) aiming to make Cameroon an emerging country by 2035. In the pursuit of this objective, industrialization was presented as “the foundation and cornerstone of Cameroon’s long-term development vision” (DPPS, 2009: 36). While such a desire for industrialization has led to the adoption of new pro-industrial policies, it has so far expressed itself mainly in the implementation of major infrastructure projects (dams, ports, railways, roads , …). These major projects, classified under the label of “structuring projects” and placed at the center of the political program of President Paul Biya, are thought to be an indispensable first step for the development of a competitive Cameroonian industry at the national, regional and international levels. In Cameroon, as in many other African countries, the Republic of China has established itself as the main partner in the implementation of these major infrastructure projects. Whether in the form of preferential loans or through their direct involvement in the construction of these projects, the Chinese State and the Chinese companies thus participate in providing materiality to Cameroonian industrial ambition. Behind these great achievements, however, Cameroon’s industrialization process is confronted with numerous obstacles, linked, on the one hand, to an unfavourable international conjuncture, but also and above all, on the other hand, to internal structural conditions limiting the industrial development. In this communication, we therefore support the idea that if the large infrastructures provided by China contribute to give shape to the Cameroonian project of an industrial-led developementalist State, the blockages that now limit industrial development shed light on the real nature of the Cameroonian State. This State is primarily characterized by rentier, extraverted and neo-patrimonial logics, and its main objective is much more oriented towards the maintenance of political stability than to the structural transformation of its economy. In order to support this idea, this communication is based on observations and interviews carried out between August and September 2017 in Yaoundé and Douala, with the Cameroonian administrations and with numerous economic operators.