Cameroon Handicraft Sector on the Rise

Government has boosted this sector by creating handicraft villages, exhibition centers and financing projects.

Cynthia EFOPA

Since its creation in 2004 by the President of the Republic, Paul Biya, the Ministry of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, Social Economy and Handicraft has taken an ever risen trend in the employment and promotion of youths and valorising the craft works of young Cameroonians. More than 60 percent of youths have seen themselves embedded in the fabrication of handicraft and some has excelled in the domain to the point that it has earned them international recognition. The attention paid to the sector, obliged the government to create the Cameroon International Handicraft Exhibition (SIARC),  an exposition fair that brings together crowd of visitors, local and international crafts men and women  to showcase their knowhow and gather experience from other partners on some modern methods that the profession has undergo.

The amount of budget injected in the organization of the exhibition fair which takes place every after two years is telling of the importance government attaches to the sector.  For the year 2016, the government invested some 600 million CFA FRS.  For the year 2018, a good number of participants have already booked for a participation ticket. The Ministry of Small and Medium sized-Enterprises, Social Economy and Handicraft has already recorded some 510 exhibitors for the 2018 fair.   According to statistics from that ministerial department, in the year 2017, the sector contributed some 1.6 billion to the National income of the country and the delegation of Cameroonian craft men who participated in the Ouagadougou International Handicraft Exhibition in Burkina Faso in 2016, won four distinguish prices for their ingenious capacity to innovate and create in the domain of arts and culture.

Besides creating handicraft villages at national and local levels, the government has made it a duty to insert Arts and Craft as a subject in the curricula for primary schools. Here, the pupils are taught how to develop their sense of creativity. With the introduction of the new subject, Arts and Cinematography in secondary school curricula, the pupils have the capacity to continue right up to the university. More to that, some of the projects proposed by the youths in the sector gets government funding from myriads of government schemes.  In May 2017, through ‘Ptsjeune’, a youth finance program, more than 2150 projects were evaluated for financing by the follow-up committee.

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