In February, 2019 TIAC participated at the trade fair with over 800 companies, from Cameroon and other countries. We visited many stands and platforms, and attended as many panels as time would permit. The Cameroon Investment Promotion Agency (API) was present to provide information on investment in Cameroon.
Banks, insurance companies, Telco’s, Dangote, and others exposed their products and services. Foreign missions (US Embassy, UK High Commission, China) and a host of others had pavilions and business forums on behalf of their various missions and embassies.
ECOWAS with a population of 350 million, and EAC, with 120 million both make up about a third of the 1.2 billion African population. The Maghreb and Southern African countries (UMA, COMESA) make up most of the rest. These regions are leading in FDI, renewables and the agro-sector due to comparative advantages, value chains and messaging. The CEMAC region with a population of 43 million with Cameroon the most populated at 23 million, informs on the needful, given the market share.
Cameroon and the region need to display where there has been innovation, in products and services for competitive and comparative advantages. Companies and businesses should start engaging and training staff on branding and messaging. Switzerland in watch making, Norway in fishing, Sweden with Volvo have prioritized certain activities and branded them despite their population.
The 2021 Trade Fair, should be more than a display of products; it should create excitement on the products, for a larger market through branding and messaging. TIAC, in a piece “Branding entrepreneurship for investment in the CEMAC region” in 2018 had highlighted the importance of communication and branding and the next trade fair, should be reflective of this.