Cameroon is a lower middle income country with a population of 21.7 million people. Situated in Central Africa, it shares a border with Nigeria, Chad, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon. Two regions are Anglophone (the northwest and southwest regions that border Nigeria) while the rest of the country is Francophone. It is endowed with significant natural resources, including oil and gas, high value timber species, minerals, and agricultural products such as coffee, cotton, cocoa, maize, cassava.
Since independence in 1960, Cameroon has enjoyed a high level of political stability, in spite of its highly diverse population and conflicts along its borders with neighboring countries. Cameroon’s Senate was inaugurated in May 2013 and it held legislative and local elections in September 2013. Out of the 180 members of parliament, 56 are women.
After a significant decrease in poverty rates in the 1990s, the poverty rate in Cameroon has stagnated at a national average of around 40% (40.2% in 2001 and 39.9% in 2007). Chronic poverty stands at about 26%. These averages are high compared to other countries in the region with similar economic characteristics.
There are wide regional disparities in poverty and depths of poverty in Cameroon. The poor—in terms of numbers and level of poverty—are concentrated in the four northernmost provinces: the far north, north, Adamawa, and the east. Access and quality of services are also lagging significantly behind the other provinces. Cameroon is off track to meet most of the MDGs by 2015, despite improvements in universal education and access to water.
After years of weak economic growth, growth continues to strengthen but is still too low to address poverty and development needs. Preliminary estimates indicate that growth reached 4.8% in 2013 - compared to 4.6% in 2012 – with the tertiary sector (telecommunications and transport in particular) being the main driver of growth. In 2013, prices rose moderately and the inflation rate ended the year well below the regional convergence criterion of 3%. The overall price level increased by 1.6% in 2013 (year-on-year), compared to 2.5% over the same period the year before.
Cameroon is a member of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC by its French abbreviation). The country’s medium-term fiscal policy seeks to limit the budget deficit during periods of high oil revenue by using this revenue to fund growth-oriented investment, thus ensuring that future generations will not be burdened with unsustainable levels of debt. The introduction of the budget program, starting in 2013, also paves the way for more efficient public spending.
Cameroon suffers from weak governance, which affects the country’s development and ability to attract investments. Cameroon ranks 144th out of 177 countries in the 2013 Transparency International corruption perceptions index (144th place is shared with Central African Republic, Iran, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Ukraine, and Cameroon). Cameroon ranks 168th out of 189 economies in the 2014 Doing Business report, down from 162th place in 2013.
Last Updated: Apr 21, 2015