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Three fertilizer plants announced, adding to long-stalling Limbé project

Cameroonian company Vision Global and its American partner plan to invest XAF500 billion in the construction of two organic and chemical fertilizer manufacturing plants.  According to Acting Minister of Industry Fuh Calistus Gentry (photo), who disclosed the information before the parliament on June 30, 2023, the plants will be built in Limbé (Southwest Cameroon) and Yaoundé.

The government official explains that one of the plants is expected to manufacture 230,000 tons of ammonia yearly and the other 400,000 tons of urea yearly. The feasibility studies are underway, we learn.

During his address to the parliament, Minister Fuh Calistus Gentry also revealed that the Cameroonian government was working on a project to build a fertilizer manufacturing plant in Douala. He further disclosed that energy utility Gaz du Cameroun has already agreed to supply the Douala plant. The feasibility study of the said plant is due to start in 2024, with state funding.

The plants are announced at a time when a similar project to be developed in Limbé by German company Ferrostaal is stalling for 10 years now. “Negotiations are hampered by the price of the gas on offer, which makes the project unprofitable. The case is still pending at the National Hydrocarbons Corporation (SNH),” the Ministry of Economy expands on the reasons delaying the project.

Massive imports

In 2013, SNH, Ferrostaal, and EurOil Limited signed a preliminary commercial agreement for the supply of natural gas to the Limbé chemical fertilizer plant. But since then, negotiations between the parties have stalled, delaying the project. The investment for that plant is estimated at XAF1.25 trillion to produce 600,000 tons of ammonia and 700,000 tons of urea yearly.

In the meantime, massive fertilizer imports continue to widen Cameroon’s trade deficit. For example, according to the report on Cameroon’s foreign trade between January and September 2022, fertilizers are among the three products with the highest import expenditure, behind fuels and lubricants, and frozen fish.

The document published by the National Institute of Statistics (INS) informs that over the period reviewed,  fertilizer import expenditure rose by 43.4% year-on-year, due to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. According to data compiled by INS, fertilizers account for 17% of Cameroon’s imports from Russia. This makes Russia the leading supplier of these agricultural inputs to Cameroon, with a 43% market share, compared with just 11% for China.

To avoid a drop in agricultural production in the country in 2023, due to higher fertilizer prices following the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, the Cameroonian government has decided to subsidize the inputs. On April 11, 2023, while launching the 2023 farming season in Nanga-Eboko, Agriculture Minister Gabriel Mbairobe revealed that the subsidy would reach the sum of XAF14 billion.

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