Environment & Climate ChangeNews

Favouritism A Big Concern As Forestry Companies In Cameroon Apply For New Licences

Seventy-four (74) forestry exploitation companies in Cameroon have applied for logging licences to harvest timber in designated concessions in 2021. Of this number, 30 whose dossiers are considered satisfactory will eventually be selected. But company officials fear that the process may not be fair to those without “godfathers” in the relevant public offices.

Officials of the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife had provided information about the applications on Wednesday during the formal opening of the dossiers in Yaounde.

The selection exercise is slated to be finalised by October 22, when the names of the authorised forestry exploitation companies would be announced.

According to the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife, the inter-ministerial commission in charge of analysing the dossiers of applications would base its choices on the technical and professional capacity of pitching forestry companies and guarantees they would execute the logging operations in strict respect of their previous engagements concerning forestry exploitation in Cameroon.

The beginning of the screening exercise has, however, sent a frenzy through the ranks of forestry operators in the country as expectations are not high among certain exploiters who believe they are disadvantaged because of a lack of political connections.

“When I talk of godfathers currently holding high government functions, I do so because almost all the forestry exploitation companies obtained their licences and concessions through ‘godfatherism’ and only those whose godfathers are still in active duty and occupying high positions in the necessary ministerial departments can aspire to sail through the screening exercise since almost everything here is done on the basis of ‘man-know-man’,” declared an official of one of the applicant companies who requested for anonymity to avoid repercussions against his company.

“Some of us whose ‘godfathers’ have either gone on retirement or have been sacked from their former functions are going into the bidding with virtually no chances of success,” the official added.

Another timber company official said he is aware a number of the companies are only applying to confirm the popularly-held opinion that without “boots”, they have no chances of success.

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Chief Bisong Etahoben

Chief Bisong Etahoben is a Cameroonian investigative journalist and traditional ruler. He writes for international media and has participated in several transnational investigations. Etahoben won the first-ever Cameroon Investigative Journalist Award in 1992. He serves as a member of a number of international investigative journalism professional bodies including the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR). He is HumAngle's Francophone and Central Africa editor.

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