The process of buying and selling in Douala, the economic capital of Cameroon and other parts of the country is witnessing a major challenge of inadequate coins of 25, 50, and 100 FCFA in circulation.
Yousouf Abdou, proprietor of a provision shop at New Bell quarter says he lost several customers daily because he lacks coins to facilitate transactions.
“When customers come with money like 5,000 FCFA to buy, it’s difficult to give their balance. It’s frustrating for small businesses. Most of the time, I don’t sell at all,” he said.
To solve the problem, the shopkeeper attests that he has created Mobile Money accounts where some customers can pay for their goods. “Even with this, not everyone has a Mobile Money account and as a provision shop, kids come to buy bread, milk, biscuits, and other little things and definitely they don’t have Mobile Money accounts,” he added.
The inadequate circulation of coins in the economy equally affects movement within the city of Douala.
“There are times that you can leave Bonaberi at Douala 4 and cross to Deido with just one or two passengers. People line up the street with one, two, and five thousand francs notes to board a taxi,” recounts Stephane, a township taxi driver in Douala.
To him, during the second half of the year 2020, there was an injection of 500 FCFA notes into the economy to solve the problem coins. “This to an extent has solved the problem but Cameroon being a growing economy with low-income earners, there is the need for coins of less than 500FCFA to be more in circulation.”
To those who buy, they are forced sometimes to pay more than the amount due to lack of coins.
Economists say the situation is detrimental to Cameroon’s economy.
To Nyuysever Kilian, ” in a heavy cash society like Cameroon, inadequate circulation of coins slows business transactions. This explains why you see people queue in shops to buy. This takes a long time. Knowing that time is money in economics, you will discover that at the end of the day, most business activities would not be executed.”
The economist and management consultant says it’s time Cameroon takes a giant step and encourage digital economy.
“In a modern economy, we encourage digital payment. This will permit people to buy and sell without any delay and consequently reduce the rate of touching money”.
While waiting on the government to take such a piece of advice to improve the economy, workers at filling stations in Douala that usually have coins are making brisk business by selling coins to those in need.