The double ceremony of the inauguration of the Mbalmayo Special Handicraft Village and the installation of its newly appointed officials took place on April 21st 2022 in the Nyong and So’o Division. Chaired by the Minister of SMEs, Social Economy and Handicrafts Achille BASSILEKIN III in the presence of the Minister of Forests and Wildlife Jules Doret Ndongo, the Minister of Labor and Social Security Grégoire Owona and the Governor of the Centre Region Naseri Paul Bea, the inauguration of the Mbalmayo Special Handicraft Village in the Nyong-and-So’o Division, brings the total number of Handicraft Villages in Cameroon to twelve (12). This building thus reinforces the heritage of new buildings of the Ministry of SMEs, Social Economy and Handicrafts within the framework of its infrastructural construction programme.
The Mbalmayo Special Handicraft Village is built on an area of 2400 m2 and offers an appropriate framework for organising handicraft events, coordinating work and collaboration between the staff of the said Village and its core target made up of craftspeople. It is indeed made up of two large circulation spaces, an access ramp for the people suffering from motor disabilities and two (02) glass domes allowing the building to be naturally lit. It comprises fifty-four (54) medium-sized exhibition stands, four (4) workshop rooms, six (6) large exhibition rooms, three (3) training rooms, one (1) meeting room, eight (8) offices, eight (8) cloakrooms, eighteen (18) toilets, one (1) waiting room and one (1) shop on the floor level. The official opening of the doors of the Mbalmayo Special Handicraft Village therefore gives an opportunity to the 461 crafts persons in the Nyong and So’o division to showcase their know-how.
Speaking during the ceremony, Achille BASSILEKIN III expressed his gratitude to all present. He stated that this inauguration recalls two important elements as concerns this sector; the first which is closely linked to the consecration of the strategic plan of handicrafts as an essential driver that contributes to the structural transformation of Cameroon’s economy and secondly is the urgent necessity to always and better valorise the rich handicraft heritage of this region especially in the bamboo and rattan sector. He went further to recall that within the framework of Cameroon’s 2035 Development Strategy Vision, the government has made provisions for handicrafts as a means of poverty reduction, creation of employment and wealth. Thus, handicrafts is one of the foundations that the Cameroon Government depends on for national development. The objective therefore is to reinforce the structurisation process of handicrafts and also emphasize on the valorisation of craft products so as increase the growth of this sector in the production of wealth at the national level as well as offer crafts persons decent work and better living conditions. To this effect, he further stated that the promotion of entrepreneurship, trainings and the reinforcement of the capacity of crafts persons and craft enterprises are essential for the growth of Cameroon’s eco-system through handicrafts villages.
Placed under the supervision of the Ministry of SMEs, Social Economy and Handicrafts, the Handicraft Villages are places of collective supervision of production, exhibition, marketing and animation activities dedicated to craftspeople and handicraft enterprises. Their mission is to coordinate the production of handicraft products, to supervise the exhibition of these products, to encourage their promotion and marketing and to guarantee the training of craftspeople and their professional organisations. The handicraft villages are divided into three categories: the Yaoundé International Handicraft Centre, the only one in its category with a national and international scope. The nine (09) regional handicraft villages, in the second category, are territorially delimited. Their vocation is to sell and promote the handicraft know-how of the region where they are located. The Special Handicraft Villages (02) constitute the third category and can be set up wherever a certain craft potential exists.
The inauguration ceremony was also an opportunity for Minister Achille BASSILEKIN III to officially install the newly appointed Coordinator of the Mbalmayo Special Handicraft village, Mrs Joanna Arlette OBAMA NGAMOUGOU and the Deputy Coordinator Mr BEH Leslie Chamberlain. Worth noting is, these officials are assisted in their missions by five (5) section heads.
It is worth noting that after the inauguration of the Ngaoundéré Regional Handicraft Village in December 2019, the Foumban Special Handicraft Village in January 2020, the Bafoussam Regional Handicraft Village in March 2021, the loop has closed on Mbalmayo this 21st April 2022.