Cameroon is a lower-middle-income country with a population of over 25 million (2019). Located along the Atlantic Ocean, it shares its borders with the Central African Republic, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Nigeria. Two of its border regions with Nigeria (northwest and southwest) are Anglophone, while the rest of the country is Francophone. Cameroon is endowed with rich natural resources, including oil and gas, mineral ores, and high-value species of timber, and agricultural products, such as coffee, cotton, cocoa, maize, and cassava.
The first regional elections were held in December 2020. The ruling party, the Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM), won nine of the ten regions. These elections mark the start of the decentralization process provided for in the 1996 Constitution. The new regional councilors will work with the Ministry of Decentralization and Local Development to pave the way for the gradual transfer of power and the necessary funds to the regions.
Having enjoyed several decades of stability, Cameroon has in recent years been grappling with attacks by Boko Haram in the Far North and a secessionist insurgency in the Anglophone regions. Since September 2017, this situation has displaced more than 500,000 persons internally and claimed the lives of close to 400 civilians and over 200 law enforcement officers. Following the resurgence of the crisis in the Central African Republic since January 2021, more than 6,000 Central Africans refugees have fled to Cameroon’s eastern region, which is already hosting over 60 % of Central African refugees.
According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), in March 2022 Cameroon was hosting over 460,000 refugees, primarily from the Central African Republic (320,000) and Nigeria (120,000).
Because its poverty reduction rate is lagging behind its population growth rate, the overall number of poor in Cameroon increased by 12 % to 8.1 million between 2007 and 2014, and poverty is concentrated in the country’s northern regions, where 56 % of the poor live.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a significant deterioration in economic activity. Household and business income losses linked to social distancing measures and the uncertainty surrounding the course of the pandemic led to a sharp decline in consumption. Public and private investments were also adversely affected. Public services, such as schools and non-COVID-related health services, were severely disrupted. The use of family planning and prenatal care services fell by 37 % and 18 %, respectively. It is estimated that the crisis increased the extreme poverty rate from 24.5 % in 2019 to 25.3 % in 2021.
Ranked 144 out of 180 countries in the 2021 Transparency International corruption perceptions index, Cameroon suffers from weak governance, hindering its development and ability to attract investors.
Last Updated: Apr 19, 2022