Country Overview

Cameroon is a lower middle income country with a population of 23.3 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, and 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’s war, has shifted to suicide attacks since October/November 2015 with regular attacks.  An estimated 93,000 Cameroonians have been displaced internally and Cameroon is also host to an estimated 65,000 Nigerian refugees in the north and 250,000 refugees from CAR in the east. 

Social Context

Despite more than a decade of economic growth, poverty in Cameroon has remained almost unchanged since 2001. Poverty decreased from 40% in 2001 to 37.5% in 2014. Urban poverty declined from 18% in 2001 to an estimated 9% in 2014. However in rural areas, the percentage of poor increased from 52% in 2001 to 56.8% in 2014.

Changes in poverty between 2001 and 2014 show an unambiguous regional pattern, with northern Cameroon becoming poorer and southern Cameroon becoming wealthier. In 2014, 56% of all poor in Cameroon lived in the two northern regions, North and Far North. In the northern region, per capita consumption declined since 2001 (by about 15%), it increased in the south by approximately 50%. The commensurate decline in poverty in the southern part of the country can be attributed to favorable world market prices for export crops, artisanal gold mining, and an urbanization process that creates positive spillovers to rural areas through increased demand for produce, transfers and opportunities for work.

The increase in poverty in northern Cameroon is of great concern. The number of poor people in the North and Far North regions more than doubled from 2.1 million in 2001 to 4.5 million in 2014. Moreover this was measured prior to the security crisis created by Boko Haram. More up to date poverty estimates do not exist, but one would expect a significant increase in poverty in the northern regions as a consequence of the influx of refugees, and the disruption of business due to increased levels of insecurity.

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 is estimated to have increased by 6.2% in 2015 compared to 5.9% in 2014, mainly due to expanding oil production which increased by 28%, following the reactivation and use of enhanced recovery techniques to optimize production from mature fields. Several non-oil sectors also continued to benefit from progress in the implementation of the “Vision 2035” program which aims to make the country an upper-middle income economy by 2035.

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 has had an impact on Cameroon’s economic outlook. The insecurity caused by the presence of Boko Haram in the Far North region has also affected the economy. External financing mobilized to fund major infrastructure projects has increased the stock of public debt to 26.7% of GDP at the end of 2015 from 22.9% in 2014. The 2015 joint International Monetary Fund-World Bank Debt Sustainability Analysis (DSA) revealed that Cameroon’s risk of external debt distress moved from moderate risk in 2014 to high risk in 2015.

In recent years, the tertiary sector has been the main driver of economic growth, with telecommunications, 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 in northernmost regions of the country which seriously affected agro-pastoral activities, 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 130th out of 168 countries in the 2015 Transparency International corruption perceptions index. Cameroon ranks 172th out of 189 economies in the 2016 Doing Business report.

Last Updated: Apr 08, 2016

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 is 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: Apr 08, 2016

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. The International Development Association (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 International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (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 the reduction of the average transit time for imports from exit at the port of Douala to N’Djamena. Dwell times at the port of Douala were also reduced.

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 International Finance Corporation (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, 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 helped to improve school infrastructure around the country, providing 270,000 people with access to potable water and improving 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 performance based financing (PBF) framework engendered behavioral change among health staff and thereby assisted health facilities in improving governance and efficiency in their use of financial resources.

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 supporting the transition from teachers financed by parents in public schools to government contracted teachers. It is providing trainings to the existing and newly contracted teachers, and providing learning materials. 

Last Updated: Apr 08, 2016

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: Apr 08, 2016


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

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments