President Paul Biya's 2023 greeting speech

President Paul Biya's 2023 greeting speech

(Agence Ecofin) – Cameroonians, My dear compatriots,

As the year 2022 comes to an end, I believe it is appropriate to revisit our journey as a Nation, before projecting ourselves, with confidence and determination, into the new year.

As you have seen, our country, like so many others, continued to face exogenous shocks in 2022. As the global economy was just beginning to recover from the distortions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, an armed conflict arose in Eastern Europe between Russia and Ukraine. The war between these two great countries has led to profound disruptions in the supply circuits of the world market in consumer products, such as cereals, crude oil and gas.

The resulting dysfunctions in international trade have also caused shortages of certain manufactured goods and other basic necessities, combined with a general rise in prices. The disastrous consequences of this war on the economies of countries, in particular those in the developing world, and the suffering it inflicts on innocent civilian populations, lead me to reaffirm the importance of peace and dialogue in the resolution conflicts.

My dear compatriots,

Despite this difficult context, our economy has been able to adapt to the international situation, once again showing resilience. Its growth rate recorded a slight increase, standing at around 3,8%, compared to 3,6% in 2021.

Inflation remained reasonable, well below the global average. Access to inputs has been guaranteed, thus allowing production activities to continue and reducing the risk of food insecurity. All this was possible thanks to the vigorous measures implemented by the Government.

Thus, in addition to the increase in tax and customs facilities granted as part of the post-covid-19 recovery plan, significant subsidies have been granted to companies in sensitive sectors, to support the viability and competitiveness of our economy. The fight against abusive speculative behavior and fraudulent exports of basic necessities has been intensified. The strengthening of local production, the reduction of our dependence on imports and the promotion of "Made in Cameroon" have also seen encouraging progress.

The Government will continue to pay particular attention to the coordinated implementation of the Import-Substitution policy, and to the optimal exploitation of the opportunities offered by the African Continental Free Trade Area.

Likewise, our social inclusion policy will continue through better distribution of the fruits of growth. To this end, the social safety net programs which target the underprivileged social strata will be extended to a greater number of beneficiaries in all ten regions.

With a view to diversifying the State's sources of revenue, I have authorized the start of three large-scale projects aimed at developing our mining potential, structuring our economy and creating jobs.

I would like to dwell on it a bit.

If it is true that our country has a subsoil rich in mineral resources, the mining sector, excluding oil, contributes only up to 1% of the Gross Domestic Product. By developing the solid mine, we will be able to ensure the relay of hydrocarbons whose stocks are dwindling and have access to additional financial resources, which can be allocated to the financing of our investments.

The year 2023 will therefore be marked by the start of work relating to the exploitation of Kribi-Lobé iron ore. This project includes the construction of an iron enrichment plant, a pipeline of about 20 kilometers and a power plant of 60 megawatts.

We will also undertake the exploitation of the Mbalam-Nabeba iron deposit. The expected benefits are immense, insofar as our country will benefit, among other things, from a 540 km railway line between Nabeba in Congo and the Port of Kribi, where an ore terminal will be built.

The third project relates to the exploitation of iron from Bipindi – Grand Zambi, with the development of a steel complex for the local transformation of iron, the construction of a pipeline and several basic infrastructures for the benefit of populations. A decisive step has already been taken in the realization of these various projects, with the signing of the relevant mining agreements and the granting of operating permits to the winning companies.

My dear compatriots,

Our country has experienced, during the year that is ending, considerable disruptions in the supply of energy resources and drinking water.

To guarantee the regular supply of the domestic market with petroleum products and domestic gas, it was necessary to increase the volume of public subsidies, at the cost of major budgetary efforts. Thus, during the year 2022, nearly 700 billion CFA francs were spent by the Public Treasury in respect of fuel subsidies and 75 billion CFA francs for domestic gas.

In view of the intensity of the exogenous shocks and their impact on our economy, I have instructed the Government to study all options to stabilize prices at their current level and preserve consumers' purchasing power.

However, it is increasingly clear that our country, like many others in Africa and elsewhere, cannot indefinitely escape a readjustment of the prices of petroleum products, if we want to preserve our budgetary balances and serenely pursue the implementation of our development policy.

Despite these constraints related to the international situation, real progress has been made in the supply of electricity. This is the case of the connection of the Eastern region to the Southern interconnected network and the commissioning of the energy evacuation line from Nyabizan to Yaoundé, now making it possible to inject all of the dam's production of Memvé'ele in the electrical network. The situation in this essential sector will see a considerable improvement in 2023, with the commissioning of the first phase of the Nachtigal hydroelectric dam and the start of work to connect the South interconnected network to the North interconnected network.

Our efforts to strengthen the quality and quantity of energy supply will intensify, thanks to the construction of new energy infrastructure and the development of solar energy, particularly in the northern part of our country.

Our people's access to drinking water remains one of my main concerns. The completion of the Drinking Water Supply Project for the city of Yaoundé and its surroundings from the Sanaga River will come to solve in a sustainable way the water supply deficit in this city.

Similarly, I have asked the Government to urgently finalize the procedures relating to the launch, from 2023, of the mega-project for the supply of drinking water to the city of Douala and its surroundings.

Beyond our major cities, production works have been carried out in certain secondary cities, in particular Bamenda, Bertoua, Ngaoundéré and Ebolowa. The construction of these works will extend to other urban and rural localities during the next year.

My dear compatriots,

Despite the unfavorable economic situation, the Government is maintaining its efforts to ensure its primary mission, namely to improve the living conditions of citizens. We must pursue the structural reforms initiated within the framework of the economic and financial program concluded with the International Monetary Fund and the other development partners.

I observe with satisfaction that despite the particularly difficult economic context that will have marked the year 2022, no sector of activity has been neglected. Without being exhaustive, let's stop for a moment on a few, following those I have just mentioned.

If we take the public works sector, 860 kilometers of roads and 460 linear meters of engineering structures have been built or rehabilitated. I will mention among others:

– the commissioning of the bridge over the Cross-river between Cameroon and Nigeria, as well as the completion of the asphalting of the road section between Sangmelima and Brazzaville, thus promoting the opening of our country to the markets of neighboring States;

– asphalting of the Lena-Tibati-Ngatt road section on National 15, with the advantage of increasing land connections between the North and the South of the country;

– the construction of the Kribi-Lolabé highway and the Grand Zambi-Kribi road, which boosts the competitiveness of the Autonomous Port of Kribi;

– the construction of the Bertoua-Batouri road, whose work will extend to Yokadouma and beyond.

  The construction of several road infrastructures has also made it possible to open up the agricultural production basins. This effort will continue in 2023, with the development of approximately 700 kilometers of road, including the asphalting of the Ebolowa-Akom II-Kribi axis.

I instructed the Government to make every effort to resume construction work on the Mora-Dabanga-Kousseri road sections; Babadjou-Bamenda and Kumba-Ekondo Titi.

Particular attention will be paid to the rehabilitation of urban roads and the improvement of traffic between our main cities. The launch of construction works on the urban section of the Yaoundé-Nsimalen highway and the acceleration of works on the Douala-Yaoundé highway will be among the Government's priorities.

The same applies to the rehabilitation and modernization of the airports of Tiko, Bertoua and Kribi, which will make it possible to serve all regions of our country by air.

Cameroonians, Cameroonians,

The year 2022 was also marked by floods which once again affected the populations of the Far North region, in particular those of the departments of Logone and Chari and Mayo-Danay. This recurring phenomenon, favored by climate change, calls for vigorous action to avoid the resulting disasters.

Beyond the humanitarian assistance provided to the victims, I have instructed the Government to implement a reconstruction plan for the Far North region. This plan notably includes the construction of several water retaining structures and socio-economic infrastructure.

With regard to the supply of care, it is undeniable that it has improved significantly during the year 2022. The Regional Hospital Center and the General Hospital of Garoua have been inaugurated and put into service. Thanks to the upgrading of the infrastructure and the technical platform of several health facilities, our country is now able to offer quality care in particularly specialized areas, such as heart surgery or kidney transplantation, to name but a few. there.

I have asked the Government to continue the efforts undertaken in this sector, by implementing a vast plan to strengthen the technical platform and the capacities of hospital staff throughout the country.

My dear compatriots,

I would now like to dwell on the security aspect. Overall, the situation is under control and under control throughout the national territory, despite the resurgence of urban crime and the persistence of sporadic attacks by certain terrorist groups in certain regions.

Thanks to the Army-Nation link, the collaboration between our defense forces and the populations has contributed to significantly reducing terrorist threats in the Far North, North West and South West regions. The regained calm has made it possible to record appreciable progress in the implementation of the Reconstruction and Development Plan for these regions.

I would like once again to pay tribute to the bravery of our defense and security forces, which spare no effort to ensure the protection of people and property, particularly in areas plagued by terrorism.

 I also thank our partners for their multifaceted support and, in particular, the United States of America, for their decisive actions aimed at bringing to justice those who, from abroad, contribute to the financing of terrorist activities in Cameroon. I invite other friendly countries to follow suit, with a view to accelerating the resumption of development activities in these regions.

At the political level, the decentralization process is progressing methodically. The transfers of competences from the State to the Decentralized Territorial Communities are done gradually, taking care not to weaken the structural balances which constitute the framework of the social pact of our Nation.

For my part, I remain convinced that the Regions, the Urban Communities and the Municipalities can and must make a decisive contribution to the revival of our economy, to the resolution of the thorny problem of youth unemployment and to the vitalization of local democracy.

The senatorial elections to be held in 2023 will be an opportunity to consolidate the decentralization option that we have taken, by renewing the Upper House of our Parliament, which represents the Decentralized Territorial Communities.

Cameroonians, Cameroonians,

My dear compatriots,

Before concluding, I would like to draw your attention to two scourges that are gaining momentum in our society. It is about corruption and incivility. Last year, in similar circumstances, I informed you of my concern to strengthen governance in the management of public affairs and to control State expenditure. I can assure you that this concern remains constant and intangible. Also, I would like once again to remind you that all those who enrich themselves illicitly, by despoiling the State, at any level whatsoever, will be held accountable.

I urge all Cameroonians, regardless of their social status, to resolutely engage in this fight that I have been leading for years. Everyone, at their level, must demonstrate probity and ensure the preservation of the common interest. It is by acting together, in a determined and resolute manner, that we will succeed in triumphing over the corruption that still exists in our society.

Like me, you have certainly observed, in our cities and countryside, the worrying rise in incivility, violence, non-respect of basic social norms or the established order. In a state of law, such behavior cannot be tolerated. Those who take pleasure in disrupting the social order, whether young or adult, will be held accountable for their actions before the competent courts.

I therefore appeal to everyone's responsibility, in particular parents and educators, to restore their place to basic moral values ​​and respect for public order.

I would like once again to challenge those who make criminal and pernicious use of social networks. Through their actions, they plunge several families into distress and sometimes ruin destinies, in particular by carrying out misinformation, defamation or the propagation of hate speech. Clearly, they jeopardize social cohesion.

Cameroonians, Cameroonians My dear compatriots,

You understood it well. It is by observing personal discipline in our daily actions that we will manage to build this modern Cameroon to which we all aspire. A prosperous Cameroon united in its diversity. A Cameroon where each actor finds his place. In this regard, I would like to appreciate the decisive role played by the private sector in the implementation of our development policy.

As far as I am concerned, I will continue to do everything possible to ensure the progress of our country. I know I can count on the contribution of each and every one of you to achieve this.

Happy new year 2023 to all.

Vive la République!

Long live Cameroon!

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