By Nathalie B. Chinje
ABSTRACT: The motive for this research was to provide clarity on the increasingly divergent opinions on the role and behaviour of South African companies in the rest of the African continent. The key question that can be asked is: “Are South African investments, saviour or villain of African Development” (Thomas, 2007)? Are they “exporting Apartheid” (Mkhabela, 2007), or are the fears raised against South African companies unfounded?
The primary research objective of this study is to assess MTN-C’s contribution to the economic development of Cameroon. The specific research questions addressed in this study are:
- What are the possible areas of economic impact?
- How can the effects of MTN-C’s presence in Cameroon be measured—both qualitatively and quantitatively?
- What recommendations can be made to MTN-C?
To answer these questions, the researcher takes a multi-dimensional view of the economic impact across eight areas, viz., inflow of foreign direct capital, interaction with government, training and development of local staff, employment creation, local procurement, spread of local shareholding, the local mobile communications sector and corporate social investment initiatives. She assesses each of the above-mentioned eight elements and then draws some conclusions on what is perceived to be the true effect of MTN-C’s investments in Cameroon.
After close to three years of in-depth research, which included several trips to Cameroon, in-depth interviews with key stakeholders, direct observation, group discussions and survey research, it can be concluded that MTN-C has indeed had a positive impact in areas like Corporate Social Investment, training and development of local staff, employment creation and the inflow of foreign capital. However, much still needs to be done. The areas that have been identified as weak include the development of local suppliers, the interaction with government and the spread of local shareholding.