Vast Expansion Possibility

Since the year 2000 when government opened the petroleum business sector the growing number of local

Over 740 filling stations now exist in Cameroon, with about 13 others involved in the distribu- tion of domestic gas. The figures show a geometric progression from the year 2000 when Ca- meroon decided to open up the petroleum sector to local inves- tors. Yet, the market is still wide open with possibilities of even extending to the Central Africa sub-region. Until 2000, Cameroonians only heard of TOTAL, TEXACO, SHELL and MOBIL, but with the libera- lization of the business to local operators, some 55 investors have joined the venture by Ja- nuary 2017 and their presence is not only creating more jobs, but equally making the filling stations and gas distribution available to many. Yet, with some statistics indi- cating that the current suply of petroleum products in the country stands at 2000 tons a month instead of the total mon- thly requirement on 9000 tons demonstrates the wide gap that still has to be covered to meet local demand. About 80 per cent of the local market is as such still dependent on imports to be satisfied. This means much of the hard currency that the country continues to spend abroad could be diverted to other develop- ment projects should the sector get enough attention from more private investors. The opportunities are therefore still in place for interested private individuals and sheer empirical observation shows how much space is still left to spread filling stations and domestic gas to the needy segments of society in Cameroon. The presence of clandestine filling stations in some border localities is another indicator that the people lack where to go. Even if such fuel is often said to be cheaper, the issue of quality is generally not on the side of those involved in the business. Thus, the cost-effective- ness to users going for doubtful fuel cannot always be a positive factor for investors who are rea- der to take quality products and services to the consumers. Although the market shares of local investors in the petro- leum distribution chain is still so modest, the rapidity with which those courageous enough to join the business have grown can spur others to take the risk. Again, it is no longer news that Cameroon is a business hub in the Central African sub-region and operators who take advantage of the possibility to open up to the entire zone always stands to make more dividend.

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