Country Overview

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 (CAR), 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.

Political Context

Cameroon’s ruling party, the Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM), has long dominated the country’s political landscape and currently occupies 148 out of the 180 seats in the National Assembly and 81 out of the 100 seats in the Senate, which was created in 2013.  Presidential elections are scheduled for 2018.  While Cameroon has enjoyed peace for many decades in spite of its highly diverse population, it now faces and increasingly challenging situation in its northern regions, where Boko Haram is waging a low intensity war.  An estimated 7,500 Cameroonians have been displaced internally and Cameroon is also host to an estimated 45,000 Nigerian refugees in the north and 131,000 refuges from CAR in the east. 

Social Context

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 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 province. 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.

Economic Overview

Over the last decade economic growth has averaged 4% and was still too low to make a serious dent in poverty reduction.  Growth reached 5.7% at end 2014 - compared to 5.5% in 2013 – driven by continued diversification of telecommunications and financial services, and the dynamism of transport.

Although Cameroon is less dependent on oil than other African oil exporting countries, oil revenue accounts for about 20% of total revenue and about 45% of total exports. Therefore, the oil price decline will necessarily affect Cameroon. The insecurity caused by the presence of Boko Haram in the Far North region has also begun to have an impact on the economy.

As in recent years, the tertiary sector was the main driver of economic growth, with telecommunication, transport and financial services being particularly dynamic. This growth would have been higher in the absence of the drastic downfall of international oil prices and the insecurity crisis in the far north which seriously affected the agro-pastoral activities in the region, trade between Cameroon and its neighbors (Nigeria, Chad, and the Central Africa Republic), and the tourism sector.

Development Challenges

Cameroon suffers from weak governance, which affects the country’s development and ability to attract investments. Cameroon ranks 136th out of 175 countries in the 2014 Transparency International corruption perceptions index (136th place is shared with Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Lebanon, Russia). Cameroon ranks 158th out of 189 economies in the 2015 Doing Business report.

Last Updated: Oct 14, 2015

World Bank Group Engagement in Cameroon

Cameroon’s main challenge over the next several years will be to significantly increase economic growth and investments, as well as implement policies that will ensure that such growth be inclusive. This will require improvements in the investment and business climate, important investments in infrastructure, better governance, stronger human capital policies and, efficient public spending that targets the poor. It will also require a focus on sectors with high growth potential such as energy, agriculture, telecommunications, mining, and transport.

The Bank’s Country Assistance Strategy for Cameroon covers the 2010-2014 period and is aligned with the 2010-2013 Growth and Employment Strategy (Document de Stratégie pour la Croissance et l’Emploi, or DSCE using the French acronym). A Systematic Country Diagnostic (SCD) and new Country Partnership Framework (CPF) will be prepared in FY16.

The World Bank is supporting the improvement of Cameroon’s competitiveness in three main areas: energy, transport, and telecommunications. It is also helping to improve the business climate.

The World Bank has contributed to improving service delivery in three main areas: human development, establishment of a social safety net system, and local development with a focus on increasing access to basic services through infrastructure upgrades and capacity building.

The World Bank portfolio in Cameroon currently stands at $1.36 billion in commitments and consists of 23 projects.

Last Updated: Oct 14, 2015

Boosting Cameroon’s Electricity Production

The World Bank is helping the government boost access to electricity. Electricity generation capacity has increased through the Kribi Gas Power Project. This has resulted in an expansion of generation capacity by 216 MW.  The planned second phase is expected to increase the generation capacity to 330 MW by 2016. IDA is supporting the development of the Lom Pangar Hydropower project.  This project will contribute to the unlocking of the hydro potential of the Sanaga River (estimated up to 6,000 MW). In addition, a new IBRD project is being prepared, the Electricity Transmission and Reform Project. The main objectives of the project will be to improve the capacity, efficiency and stability of Cameroon’s national electricity transmission network.

Enhancing Regional Trade and Integration

The CEMAC Transport and Transit Facilitation Project is a regional IDA project totaling $680 million, out of which $409 million (62%) is designated to Cameroon and focuses on two main transit corridors: Douala-N’Djamena and Douala-Bangui. One of the main achievements is that the average transit time for imports from exit at the port of Douala to N’Djamena was reduced, as well as dwell times at the port of Douala.

The road safety activities under the Africa Road Safety Corridor Initiative (ARSCI), a regional trust fund, contributed to a drop of 32% in the total number of accidents along the central corridors, Douala-N’Djamena and Douala-Bangui between 2008 and 2014. Policy dialogue and support to the civil society/NGOs led to the creation of a coalition for 30 NGOs and a partnership with the private sector led to the creation of the Safe Way Right Way (SWRW) Foundation  in Cameroon.

Improving Agricultural Competitiveness

The current World Bank engagement in the agricultural sector consists of two IDA-financed lending operations: (i) The Agricultural Competitiveness Project ($60 million) to increase the competitiveness of beneficiary producer organizations working on target value chains, and (ii) the Agriculture Investment and Market Development Project ($100 million in IDA funds and $25 million in IFC funds) to help transform low-productivity, subsistence-oriented cassava, maize, and sorghum subsectors into commercially-oriented and competitive value chains in four agro-ecological zones.

Developing Rural Areas and Improving Social Services

The multi-donor, International Development Association (IDA) funded Community Development Program Support Project is an important instrument used in the implementation of the government’s rural development strategy. The project assists the government of Cameroon in setting up and implementing a decentralized financing mechanism to ensure participatory community development in rural areas and improve access to basic social services. The program has generated strong local support from the towns and communities involved. The project has accomplished the following: helped to improve school infrastructure around the country, provided 270,000 people with access to potable water, and improved the access of 20,000 households to roads and basic social services.

Better Access and Quality of Health services

The ongoing Health Sector Support Investment Project targets district level activities, providing financial resources and a performance-based incentive system to boost outcomes in health facilities across 26 districts covering a total population of 2.5 million. The number of children completely vaccinated has more than doubled and the number of children who received one dose of vitamin A by their first anniversary has more than tripled. The management tools used within the PBF framework engendered behavioral change among health staff and thereby assisted health facilities in improving governance and efficiencies in their use of financial resources generated through service delivery.

Improve Quality and Efficiency of the Education System

The implementation of the Education Development Capacity Building and Education for All Fast Track Initiative (EFA- FTI) grant on education supported a number of activities to improve equity and quality of learning in the sector.

The Equity and Quality for Improved Learning Project, is also supporting the transition from teachers financed by parents in public schools to Government contract teachers, providing trainings to the existing and contract teachers and providing learning materials. 

Last Updated: Oct 14, 2015

Cameroon is one of the least aid-dependent countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. International partners such as the World Bank, the African Development Bank (AfDB), the European Union (EU), the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the European Investment Bank (EIB), the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC), the Banque de Développement des États de l’Afrique Centrale (BDEAC), the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations, and Germany have strengthened their coordination mechanisms in order to further the Paris Declaration and Busan agenda.

Last Updated: Oct 14, 2015


Cameroon: Commitments by Fiscal Year (in millions of dollars)*

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments