News / Africa

Chinese Goods Top Christmas Wish List In Cameroon

In Cameroon, as elsewhere, Christmas is often accompanied by consumer spending sprees on food, clothes and toys. Across the Central African nation of 20 million inhabitants, dwindling purchasing power and a lack of local manufactured goods have given Chinese imports an edge. Low-priced products from the Asian economic powerhouse are the most-preferred this Christmas.

Multimedia

Audio

For many in predominantly Chrisian Cameroon, Christmas without new dresses, playthings and extraordinary food is unthinkable.  Family breadwinners must provide them all for their spouses, kids and other dependents to guarantee a happy and peaceful holiday.

Across the country this year, the traditional hustle and bustle that usually heralds the commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ started off slowly.  Until a few days ago, traders grumbled about poor sales, fearing they may end up with piles of unsold stocks of the seasonal Christmas goods.

Civil servants complained the government had failed to pay their salaries on time.  Others said they were waiting for the last minute rush and a possible drop in prices.  As a result, most markets nationwide only recently witnessed an upsurge in sales in the final days to Christmas.

Gifts made in China, the preference of many consumers this Christmas in Cameroon.
Gifts made in China, the preference of many consumers this Christmas in Cameroon.

In the country’s most-populated city and economic nub Douala, the vast majority of Christmas shoppers prefer low-priced Chinese goods. Many said imported products from other parts of the world like Europe and America are far beyond their reach.  They  addedthat with as little as little as five dollars, it is possible to buy a dress and a pair of shoes.

Soaring demand

Throughout the streets of Douala and other major urban settlements, the soaring demand for Chinese dresses, toys, medicines, motorbikes and electronic appliances among others has led to cutthroat competition for street-side commercial space between Chinese nationals and their Cameroonian hosts.

Economists say the failure of the country to manufacture consumer goods and the heavy dependence on imports has favored the steady influx over the years of Chinese products.

Calixtus Fuh Gentry is the Secretary of State in the Ministry of Mines, Industries and Technological Development.  He said the situation is not peculiar to Cameroon.

"China is bailing out the whole," said Gentry. "The U.S. owes China lots of money. China is bailing out Europe. So it’s not that we’re rushing to China. The very partners we started with, who are internationally renowned companies from very highly industrialized countries are heading to China to get financing, or they’re bought out by the Chinese."

However, a fraction of Cameroonian consumers said they would not, for anything in the world, spend a dime on Chinese goods for Christmas. For them, the more expensive products from Europe or America are better because they last longer.

Demand for consumer electronics

Despite the ongoing debate, Chinese products have clearly topped the wish lists for many this Christmas in Cameroon.  Among the choice items for shoppers are educational electronic toys and gadgets including laptops.

Many parents say they have noted with delight the absence of toy weapons on the markets this season.  They say it is an indication that years of lobbying against them are finally paying off.

Elsewhere, some are frowning at the increasing commercialization of Christmas over the years.  Ursula Njefrey, a member of the Holy Trinity Choir of the Presbyterian Church in the capital Yaoundé, said the growing attention on material at Christmas is blurring the real meaning of Christmas for many.

"Christmas is a season for reconciliation, for peace, for love," she said. For those who cannot afford to buy gifts, or don't believe in purchased ones, she offers songs,and greetings, of the season instead.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid