Sunday, July 10, 2005


As some of you know, the cost of living in Cameroon is high relative to the rest of West Africa, and that of West Africa is high relative to most of the world. Because this fact tends to be of great interest to many, I'm going to share the prices of a few things I've bought recently. The figures will be a little high for American dollars, and a little low for Canadian:

- cheap sunglasses: $2-$5
- 0.65l bottle of beer: $1
- meal before drinks at a cheap restaurant: $3
- second-hand blanket: $13
- small cup of brewed coffee: $0.20
- kilogram of coffee beans: $5.60
- 4 AA batteries, made in Cameroon: $0.50
- 4 AA batteries by Duracell: $8
- bus ticket to Douala (4-7 hours): $6
- kilogram (in a tin) of sweetened, condensed milk: $3.50
- a pineapple: $0.20


Anonymous said...

I may be mis-reading what you say but everything on your list except the duracell batteries seems quite cheap to me. Your favourite Uncle Al

Anonymous said...

I also was fascinated by the "shopping list". The economy where you are is of course depressed, with some of the blame going to the west (not to diminish the blame that rightfully goes to the topic of military spending and internecine war in Africa).

Wouldn't it be lovely (for a while) to think of a fresh pineapple as one of the cheapest things around!

I watched a segment on TVO a year or two ago in which someone who had been in Africa was speaking about being in a small store where the bags of rice imported from the USA were cheaper than the rice from the local grower. The "blame" part is of course the massive agricultural subsidies that the States, Canada, and the EU countries can afford.

The other part of my thinking on this subject was another show I saw recently about rice production. Apparently Texas is a big producer. In the "Excited States of America" rice is often planted by dropping grains of it from planes, like crop dusting. Big producers can also buy combines that are designed for the purpose of slogging through mud to harvest the end product.

The net effect is that in the areas of Asia and Africa that do the process manually, a hectare of rice costs 1100 man-hours, in North America, 7.

Even though the worker on this continent gets paid much better, it's still almost impossible to compete.

Blame? No. Help our fellow humans to get a foothold on developing the superior technology? Sure.

More favourite Uncle Paul