President Paul Biya's End of Year Speech to the Nation
Updated: Jan 3
President Paul Biya's end-of-year speech to Cameroonians. In his traditional message to the nation, the President lists major achievements that have marked the last 12 months in Cameroon
FULL SPEECH OF H.E. PRESIDENT PAUL BIYA
My dear compatriots,
As the year 2022 draws to a close, 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.
Just as the global economy was beginning to recover from the distortions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, there was an armed conflict in Eastern Europe between Russia and Ukraine.
The war between these two major countries has led to profound disruptions in the supply of consumer products such as grain, crude oil, and gas to the world market.
The resulting disruptions in international trade have also led to shortages of certain manufactured goods and other basic commodities, combined with a general rise in prices.
The disastrous consequences of this war on the economies of countries, particularly developing ones, and the suffering it inflicts on innocent civilian populations, lead me to reaffirm the importance of peace and dialogue in conflict resolution.
My fellow citizens,
Despite this difficult context, our economy has been able to adapt to the international situation, showing once again its resilience. Its growth rate has risen slightly, to around 3.8%, from 3.6% in 2021.
Inflation remained reasonable, well below the global average. Access to inputs has been guaranteed, allowing production activities to continue and reducing the risk of food insecurity. All of this has been possible thanks to the vigorous measures implemented by the Government.
Thus, in addition to the increase in tax and customs facilities granted under 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 commodities has intensified. Encouraging progress has also been made in strengthening local production, reducing our dependence on imports, and promoting "Made in Cameroon".
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.
Similarly, our social inclusion policy will continue through a better distribution of the fruits of growth. To this end, the social safety net programs targeting the disadvantaged social strata will be extended to a larger number of beneficiaries in all ten regions.
With a view to diversifying the State's sources of revenue, I have authorized the launch of three major projects aimed at developing our mining potential, structuring our economy, and creating jobs.
I would like to dwell on them for a moment.
While it is true that our country has a subsoil rich in mining resources, the mining sector, excluding oil, contributes only 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 additional financial resources, which can be allocated to finance our investments.
The year 2023 will therefore be marked by the start of work on the Kribi-Lobé iron ore operation. This project includes the construction of an iron ore beneficiation plant, a pipeline of approximately 20 kilometers, and a 60-megawatt power plant.
We will also begin mining the Mbalam-Nabeba iron ore deposit. The expected benefits are immense, insofar as our country will benefit from, among other things, a 540-kilometer railway line between Nabeba in Congo and the Port of Kribi, where a mineral terminal will be built.
The third project concerns the exploitation of the Bipindi - Grand Zambi iron ore, with the development of a steel complex for the local transformation of iron ore, the construction of a pipeline, and several basic infrastructures for the benefit of the population.
A decisive step has already been taken in the realization of these various projects, with the signing of the related mining agreements and the granting of operating permits to the winning companies.
My dear compatriots,
During the past year, our country has experienced considerable disruptions in the supply of energy resources and drinking water.
In order to guarantee the regular supply of petroleum products and domestic gas to the domestic market, it was necessary to increase the volume of public subsidies, at the cost of significant budgetary efforts. In 2022, the Treasury spent nearly CFAF 700 billion on fuel subsidies and CFAF 75 billion on domestic gas.
Given the intensity of 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 consumer purchasing power.
However, it is becoming increasingly clear that our country, like many others in Africa and elsewhere, will not be able to avoid readjusting the price of petroleum products indefinitely, if we want to preserve our budgetary balance and pursue the implementation of our development policy with serenity.
Despite these constraints linked to the international situation, real progress has been made in terms of electricity supply. This is the case with the connection of the Eastern region to the Southern interconnected network and the commissioning of the energy evacuation line from Nyabizan to Yaoundé, which now allows the entire production of the Memvé'ele dam to be injected into the electricity network.
The situation in this essential sector will improve considerably in 2023, with the commissioning of the first phase of the Nachtigal hydroelectric dam and the start of work on connecting the southern interconnected grid to the northern interconnected grid.
Our efforts to strengthen the quality and quantity of energy supply will be intensified, with the construction of new energy infrastructures and the development of solar energy, particularly in the northern part of our country.
Access to drinking water for our population 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 provide a lasting solution to the water supply deficit in this city.
Similarly, I have asked the Government to finalize urgently the steps to launch, as early as 2023, the mega-project for the supply of drinking water to the city of Douala and its surroundings.
In addition to our major cities, production facilities have been built in some secondary towns, notably Bamenda, Bertoua, Ngaoundéré, and Ebolowa. The construction of these facilities will be extended to other urban and rural areas in the coming 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 its citizens. We must continue the structural reforms undertaken within the framework of the economic and financial program agreed upon with the International Monetary Fund and other development partners.
I am pleased to note 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 take a look at a few of them, following those I have just mentioned.
If we take the public works sector, 860 kilometers of roads and 460 linear meters of engineering structures were 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 opening up our country to the markets of neighboring states;
- the asphalting of the Lena-Tibati-Ngatt road section on National Highway 15, with the advantage of increasing land links between the north and south of the country
- the construction of the Kribi-Lolabe highway and the Grand Zambi-Kribi road, which will boost the competitiveness of the Autonomous Port of Kribi;
- the construction of the Bertoua-Batouri road, which will be extended to Yokadouma and beyond.
The construction of several road infrastructures has also helped to open up the agricultural production basins. This effort will continue in 2023, with the construction of about 700 kilometers of road, including the asphalting of the Ebolowa-Akom II-Kribi axis.
I have instructed the Government to make every effort to resume construction work on the Mora-Dabanga-Kousseri, Babadjou-Bamenda, and Kumba-Ekondo Titi road sections.
Particular attention will be paid to the rehabilitation of urban roads and the improvement of traffic between our main cities. The launching of construction work on the urban section of the Yaoundé-Nsimalen highway and the acceleration of work 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 enable us to serve all the regions of our country by air.
The year 2022 was also marked by floods that once again affected the populations of the Far North region, particularly those of the departments of Logone and Chari, and Mayo-Danay. This recurrent phenomenon, favored by climate change, calls for vigorous actions to avoid the disasters that follow.
In addition to providing humanitarian assistance to the victims, I have instructed the Government to implement a reconstruction plan for the Far North region. This plan includes the construction of several water retention structures and socio-economic infrastructures.
With regard to the provision of health care, there is no doubt 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 technical platform of several health facilities, our country is now able to offer quality care in particularly advanced areas, such as heart surgery or kidney transplantation, to name but a few.
I have asked the Government to continue the efforts made in this sector, by implementing a vast plan to strengthen the technical platform and the capacities of hospital personnel throughout the country.
My dear compatriots,
I would now like to dwell on the security aspect. Overall, the situation is under control throughout the country, 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 population has contributed to a significant reduction in terrorist threats in the Far North, North West, and South West regions. The restored calm has enabled us to make significant progress in the implementation of the Reconstruction and Development Plan for these regions.
I would like once again to salute the bravery of our defense and security forces who spare no effort to ensure the protection of people and property, especially in areas plagued by terrorism.
I also thank our partners for their multifaceted support and especially the United States of America for their decisive action to bring to justice those who, from abroad, contribute to the financing of terrorist activities in Cameroon. I invite other friendly countries to follow their lead in order to accelerate the resumption of development activities in these regions.
At the political level, the decentralization process is advancing methodically. The transfer of competencies from the State to the decentralized territorial authorities is being carried out progressively, taking care not to weaken the structural balances that constitute the backbone of our Nation's social pact.
For my part, I remain convinced that the Regions, the Urban Communities, and the Communes 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 we have taken, by renewing the Upper House of our Parliament, which represents the Decentralized Territorial Communities.
My dear compatriots,
Before concluding, I would like to draw your attention to two scourges that are gaining ground in our society. These are corruption and incivism.
Last year, in similar circumstances, I informed you of my concern to strengthen governance in the management of public affairs and to control of State expenditures. I can assure you that this concern remains constant and intangible. Also, I wish to remind you once again that all those who enrich themselves illegally, by despoiling the State, at any level, will be held accountable.
I urge all Cameroonians, regardless of their social rank, to resolutely engage in this fight that I have been waging for years. Everyone, at his or her level, must show probity and ensure the preservation of the common interest.
Like me, you have certainly observed, in our cities and countryside, the worrying rise of incivism, violence, and non-respect of elementary social norms or of the established order. In a state governed by the rule of law, such behavior cannot be tolerated. Those who take malicious pleasure in disrupting the social order, whether they are young people or adults, will be held accountable for their actions before the competent courts.
I, therefore, appeal to the responsibility of all, especially parents and educators, to restore basic moral values and respect for public order.
I would like once again to call out those who make criminal and pernicious use of social networks. By their actions, they plunge several families into distress and sometimes ruin destinies, by proceeding in particular to disinformation, defamation, or the propagation of hate speech. Obviously, they jeopardize social cohesion.
My dear compatriots,
You have understood well. It is by observing a personal discipline in our daily actions that we will succeed in building 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 determining role that the private sector plays in the implementation of our development policy.
As for me, 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 of you.
Long live the Republic!
Long live Cameroon!