Death of Kadji Defosso: What to remember from one of Cameroon’s Richest Man’s Life

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Renowned economic operator, politician, patriarch … Joseph Kadji Defosso, who died today at the age of 95, will be remembered in Cameroon for his achievements. 
More than a name, He is a true legend of the Cameroonian economy that went to Bedford Gardens Hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa. Joseph Kadji Defosso, one of the top ten richest people of Cameroon in 2018 according to the pan-African magazine Jeune Afrique, has indeed died after a long illness; leaving behind a considerable legacy remembered by many Cameroonians.

It was around 1923 that Patriarch Bana was born in the region of western Cameroon. At a very young age, he becomes interested in commercial activities and starts tobacco business. With early success in this, he diversifies to other businesses by exporting products such as coffee. Kadji Defosso moved to Douala and acquired several shops in strategic neighbourhoods (Akwa, Bali, Bonanjo, Bonapriso). In 1962, he started real estate by creating Chimède immobilier. Taking advantage of the favourable economic context after independence, it develops real estate infrastructure, some of which are still visible in the urban landscape of Douala (Cauris building, Hibiscus, baobab and more recently Kadji Square).

In 1972, Kadji Defosso embarked on a new business adventure, the brewery. He created the Union of Breweries of Cameroon (UCB), which competed with SABC French Pierre Castel.  UCB launches a beer department, the Kadji Beer, which helps to put its name in the collective consciousness of Cameroon. 

Beyond the brewing sector, he starts producing plastics with his company Polyplast; in the flour mill with the Cameroon Grains Corporation (SCC); in maritime transport with Soprotrans SA and SCTL (Cameroonian transport and logistics company); in sports with the Kadji Sport Academy (KSA); in leisure with the KSA Leisure Center, and in insurance with the General Insurance of Cameroon (AGC).

In 2002, Kadji Defosso was elected CPDM mayor of Bana in the double legislative and municipal elections of the same year. He will be re-elected in 2007 and again in 2013. His term, which was supposed to end during this year, was extended for one year by the President of the Republic after the adoption of a related law by the Parliament. As mayor, he has to his credit the construction, on own funds, of a city hall worth 800 million CFA francs. 

Before his death, Kadji Defosso had divested himself of several of his responsibilities at the head of his empire. In 2010, he made the decision to entrust the operational management of UCB to his daughter Nicole Kadji and his son Gilbert took the leadership of the SCC. Kadji Defosso was a knight of order and value (Cameroon’s Highest Civil Honour). At his death, he was estimated to worth about $205 Million. 

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