By Richard Kwang Kometa
After years of bilateral and multilateral cooperation, Cameroon and Italy have maintained discretely efficient relations.
The visit to Cameroon by the President of the Republic of Italy, Sergio Mattarella, elected on 31 January 2015 for a seven-year term, is a landmark event that brings to the fore the state of relations between both countries. With bilateral relations between Cameroon and Italy negotiated in the early years of Cameroon’s independence, the on-and-off presence of Italian companies in the country has not sidelined the constant flow of students moving to Italy for higher education studies.
Certainly, most Cameroonians would hardly recall when such a key personality like the Head of State from Italy last came to Cameroon. However, President Sergio’s choice of two African countries, Ethiopia and Cameroon, to make his first Africa stop, is sufficiently significant and goes beyond diplomatic niceties.
Both countries started diplomatic ties in the early 1960s with the first resident Italian Ambassador to Yaounde who presented his letters of credence on 28 February 1962. Cameroon did same in July 1964 by appointing an interim Charge d’Affaire to Rome. The diplomatic service was closed in 1965 and reopened in 1974 leading to reinforcement of relations that saw Cameroon appoint the first Ambassador to Rome in 1984.
The state of relations between Cameroon and Italy therefore, may appear less vibrant to the common observer, but much exists on the ground to testify to the strong ties both countries share. With students from both countries studying in various fields, the stage was set for knowledge exchange and the empowerment of the youth, the business community and other segments of the population. The underlining motive has been to ensure that Cameroon and Italy make maximum benefits from the ties.
The most recent example of what the two countries have worked to achieve was exemplified last year during the Universal Exhibition in Milan from 1st May to October 2015 when several business persons and officials from Cameroon took turns to market the economic, social and cultural potentials of the country to their Italian counterparts. A similar event took place in 2010 when the then Vice-Prime Minister in charge of Agriculture and Rural Development, Jean Nkuete, led a high-profile delegation to attend the “Africa and Italy: Partners in Business” forum in Rome.
Another non-negligible attraction that has rendered relations viable has been the many religious and health structures and personnel from Italy that continue to impact lives in Cameroon on a daily basis. In order to provide a viable framework for cooperation between both countries, accords were signed on technical, economic and financial relations, on 17 January 1989; reciprocal protection of investments on 29 June 1999 as well as the cancellation of debts which has remained effective since 30 November 2006.
Such agreements have invariably led to the realisation of health, educational, economic and scientific life-changing projects, especially by Italy in Cameroon. Italy and Cameroon have over the years enjoyed several cordial exchanges within the context of their African and European partnership. Thus, cooperation agreements reached as part of Africa-Europe multilateral ties have been points of interest to both nations.
Source: All Africa