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Inefficiencies At Douala Port Is Constraint To Growth – World Bank 

By Nformi Sonde Kinsai & Marriane Enow Tabi

The 8th edition of a World Bank publication titled: “Cameroon Economic Update: Revisiting the Sources of Growth; Enhancing the Efficiency of the Port of Douala,” has stated that the numerous inefficiencies at the Douala Seaport is a bane to the growth of the country’s economy, as well as, that of other landlocked countries depending on the port, such as the Central African Republic and Chad.
The Cameroon Economic Updates is produced by a team led by Souleymane Coulibaly, the World Bank’s Lead Economist and Programme Leader for Central Africa.
The 8th edition of the Update is based on two reports on cargo delays at the Port of Douala by the economic and transport teams of the World Bank, as well as interviews on the ground.
The report was launched on February 3 during a meeting at the Yaounde Mont Febe Hotel, chaired by the World Bank Country Director for Cameroon, Gregor Binkert. The World Bank official said the study was tailored to identify areas that can help Cameroon achieve the objectives set in the Growth and Employment Strategy Paper, GESP.
A synopsis of the report states that; “As the natural hub for the Central African region, given its strategic location, inefficiencies at the Port of Douala represent a major constraint to growth. The Port of Douala is constrained by a long waiting time at the entry gate as well as a long dwell time,” it is stated.
It notes that one area where there is need for acceleration of reforms is trade facilitation, given that the Port of Douala accounts for at least 95 percent of the goods exported from and imported into Cameroon. “Improving the management of the Port of Douala to significantly reduce cargo dwell time and ensuring its complementarity with the ports of Kribi and Limbe will be essential for Cameroon’s external competitiveness,” it states.
According to the report, “the Port of Douala is one of the least efficient of the region and that, in spite of efforts deployed over the last years, the objective to reduce the global time to seven days at the end of the 1990 has not yet been achieved. The global dwell time still represents more than three times that target…”
The report blames the inefficiencies on a number of factors which include: weak coordination of frontline stakeholders; monopolies of the inspection and terminal operators; ineffective legislation; high share of informal and unprofessional brokers; complexity and length of import procedures and physical and equipment limitations of the port.
The Economic Update provides policy recommendations on how to improve the efficiency of the Port of Douala by tackling constraints which, to them, are mainly structural. It recommends “the preparation and adoption by all stakeholders of a comprehensive structural reform plan based on an independent audit of the key choke points in any area of port operations.”
Other options to improve the efficiency of the Port of Douala include: the revision of the legal framework governing the Port; the improvement of the awareness of importers and brokers on trade procedures; the acceleration of the modernisation of the Port of Douala and; the improvement of data collection and analysis of trade facilitation statistics.
The report, however, recognises that implementing the reforms will require building consensus among various stakeholders and also overcoming the status quo practices and behaviours prevailing within the Port.
The World Bank bi-annual publication provides an update of recent economic developments as well as special focus on topical issues.

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