By Stephen Njumbe Sako
The University of Buea is hosting the fifteenth Cameroon University Games, which kicked-off on May 5, 2012. While athletes slugged out their muscles in intensive competition amongst Cameroon’s nineteen universities and colleges of higher learning, proprietors of local businesses have been busy lining their pockets and smiling into local banks to augment their savings. The games village crammed with shops and grocery stalls has witnessed a twenty-four hour carnival atmosphere. Shops in the Molyko neighbourhood of Buea have kept late-night opening hours to cash on the business fair. Some business men and women have been boastful of their returns due to the high demand of their products. The university games are held once a year, rotating amongst competing institutions. The University of Buea have been proud hosts of the 2012 edition of the games. As a mark of its bullish enthusiasm, the university erected a giant size sculpted elephant on its campus to serve not only as the official mascot of the games, but also as a befitting monument to enshrine the occasion in the hearts and minds of its stakeholders.
The ensuing carnival off-the-pitch has seen hundreds of business operators engaged in the sale of food, body wears and beverages. ‘Catch them Young’ has been the motto of Cameroon’s brewery and telecommunication companies installed in the games village, with huge advertisements and promotional sales. Banners announcing attractive services and offers have been omnipresent with ‘on your face’ distribution of flyers. The entertainment industry has been equally busy with roadside comedians and magicians competing to pull crowd on their wizardry and trickery.
About four thousand athletes are taking part in the games. This has attracted almost ten thousand new visitors into Buea to watch the games. Some have estimated that if each of these fourteen thousand guests spend at least a thousand francs per day, that should amount to fourteen million francs daily and translate to about ninety-eight million Francs for the seven-day games.
The University of Buea has spent about five hundred million francs CFA preparing for the games, refurbishing playing grounds and allied infrastructure. This means that other contractors have lined their pockets with gains from services provided.
Hotels, Fast food restaurants and Beer parlours have been the most visited enterprises especially in the evenings. A count reveals seven new Hotels completed in Molyko in good time to take advantage of the games. Despite rocketing prices, Hotels have been operating at full occupancy and beer parlours running dry of their precious nectar. The shortage has meant that the prices of drinks increased by almost 20 percent within the Buea municipality.
Financial institutions and money transfer agencies too have been on the roll-call. The stands of Express Exchange, Express Union and Cameroon Credit Union League have been very visible attracting younger clients either wishing to receive money transferred to them in and out of the Country, or expecting to learn about the existing products and services. Business operators too have exploited these in-situ mobile financial agencies to save the gains rather than walking around with cash. The attraction of huge crowds by these agencies has left traditional commercial banks wondering on the ‘ifs’ of their missed opportunity.
Every coin has two sides. While the games have been an opportunity for many stakeholders especially those of the business world to realize profit, the security level in Buea has been challenged. Pick-pockets and daylight-bandits have kept the Police busy and operating too ‘at full capacity.’ The snatching of mobile phones is reported to have peaked. Student hostels too have been bugled. According to the Commissioner in charge of the Molyko Police Station, ‘measures have been put in place to address the problem of security,’ and they promise to be vigilant and tough on smart-criminals. Law enforcement officers are conspicuous in every nook and corner of Molyko neighbourhood and the University Campus.
The University games come to a close on Saturday, May 12, 2012 under the distinguish patronage of Cameroon’s Minister of Higher Education, Prof. Jacque Fame Ndongo.
© The Entrepreneur Newspaper 2012. All Rights Reserved