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.
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.
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.
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.
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