Towards a Promotion Strategy for the Development of Forestry industries in the Congo Basin
Yaoundé (Cameroon), 21-22 September 2010, holding of a meeting under the theme “Towards a Promotion Strategy for the Development of Forestry in the Congo Basin”, organised by the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO), in collaboration with the Interafrican Forest Industries Association (IFIA) and the National Forest Programme (NFP) Mechanism of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Yaoundé.
The day was opened by His Excellency Mr Ngolle Ngolle, the Cameroonian Minister of Forests and Wildlife, Mr Ze Meka, ITTO Executive Director, Mr Hervé Bourguignon, IFIA President and Mr Olman Serrano of the FAO. Seventy representatives of international institutions, on the one hand, and administrations, NGOs, the private sector in the countries of the Congo Basin, on the other hand, attended this meeting (see Appendix 1, Participants’ list). Almost half of the participants represented the private sector. Mr Jeremie Mbairamadji of the FAO was the moderator at this meeting.
The draft agenda was adopted (see Appendix 2) and the meeting followed the programme prepared by the organizers in the conceptual note (see Appendix 3), with presentations and short discussions during the first day, followed by the formulation of recommendations by the four working groups during the second day and finally, discussions and conclusions in plenary at the end of the meeting. In preparation to this meeting of the 21 and 22 September, an appraisal mission to the Congo Basin forest sector was jointly carried out by FAO and IFIA from 13 to 20 September 2010 in Gabon and in Cameroon. About fifteen entrepreneurs – industrial and small-scale – were met and four plants and several workshops were visited. A report of this mission was presented on the first day.
The Meeting issued a number of recommendations following discussions in work groups. These recommendations presented in Appendix 5 cover themes related to investment strategies for wood transformation, taxes, commercial barriers on local and regional markets and the integration of the informal sector into national economies. Some of the recommendations of the meeting included activities under examination or implemented through various projects or programmes managed by the international community. For instance, research works on illegal wood trade undertaken and well covered by CIFOR; the UE-financed project on ACP-FLEGT for the implementation of Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs); the project proposal prepared by the ITTO on the support operational system to promote a more advanced transformation of timbers in five countries of the Congo Basin, and finally the "Cluster Bois" project sponsored by the World Bank on transformation in Cameroon.
Other activities which led to the recommendations are currently being negotiated between the representatives of the private sector and the Cameroonian government. It is therefore very important to coordinate different initiatives, projects and programmes which help to develop forest industries, especially in terms of investments for transformation and a better supply of markets with sub-regional and regional timbers.
ITTO, IFIA and FAO can help to coordinate transformation-promoting activities with achievable and tangible results. Here are some examples:
a) The execution of marketing studies for timber products in Nigeria and Chad.
b) Harmonizing customs procedures in Central and West Africa.
c) The existence of different options to create training centres for forestry and forest industries.
d) Facilitating discussions on the promotion of timber transformation in other countries of the Congo Basin.
Source: adapted from the workshop official website: National Forest Programme Facility