FODIAS: The Cameroonian diaspora mobilizes in Canada

As part of the first edition of the Diaspora Forum (FODIAS) organized by the Government of Cameroon, to be held June 28 to 30, 2017 in Yaoundé, Cameroon High Commissioner to Canada H.E. Solomon Azoh-Mbi Anu’a-Gheyle convened the community’s leaders to a meeting in Ottawa last February 23 to unveil the terms of participation in the event and to discuss the best strategy to adopt to ensure Canada’s strong representation at FODIAS.

Through this Forum, whose theme is “Cameroon and its diaspora: taking concerted action for the nation’s development,” the Government of Cameroon, under the high patronage of H.E. Paul Biya, aims to foster a synergy between Cameroonians residing beyond the country’s borders and those living in the country, in order to create projects that will yield programs, generate employment, and, above all, spark the interest of diaspora Cameroonians in investing in their country of origin.

The Cameroon High Commissioner to Canada has applauded this move, calling it indicative of the importance the government now accords to the diaspora. “It is an innovative initiative that can only have benefits for Cameroon’s economic development,” he claimed during the meeting, adding that in his capacity as representative of the Cameroonian government, members of the diaspora present ideas for projects to him on a regular basis and that he understands the importance of supporting such initiatives.

Targeted sectors

The Forum is intended for all persons of Cameroonian origin or nationality living beyond Cameroon’s borders. Participants wishing to present an innovative project at FODIAS are required to submit their candidacy for consideration. Projects must essentially concern strategic fields targeted within the principal sectors of development:

  • Health
  • Social security
  •  Education and training
  •  ICT and the green economy
  •  Economy, finance and real estate development
  •  Arts, culture and tourism
  •  Communication and public relations.

During FODIAS, entrepreneurs and project bearers may operate exhibition booths and attend workshops, seminars, and meetings (both B2B and G2B (Government to Business) meetings).

Solicitation of government support

Diaspora leaders raised several points during the Ottawa meeting, voicing concerns over the filing of candidacies and the government’s role in the subsequent development and implementation in the field of the projects presented.

Shouldn’t the deadline for filing candidacies be extended? Shouldn’t the government adopt a series of incentives for the diaspora’s project bearers?

The leaders also pointed out that the diaspora is faced with administrative challenges that impede the implementation of projects by expatriates, such as the issue of dual citizenship, which is not yet resolved in Cameroon. There is certainly no dearth of projects, ideas, and interest in investing in Cameroon.

While Mr. Anu’a-Gheyle promised to convey to the Cameroonian authorities the expectations the diaspora in Canada have of the Forum, he in return asked the association presidents to provide him, in a timely manner, a list of those interested in participating in FODIAS and a summary of their respective projects.

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