Cameroon is a lower-middle-income country with a population of over 25 million (2018). 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.
Cameroon’s ruling party, the Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM), has long dominated the country’s political landscape. The incumbent, Paul Biya, won the November 2018 presidential election. At 85 years old, Biya, who has held power since 1982, is now serving his seventh term as the country’s president. In the last municipal and legislative elections held in February 2020, the CPDM confirmed its political dominance by retaining the majority in Parliament and winning most of the communes.
Having enjoyed several decades of stability, Cameroon has in recent years been grappling with attacks by Boko Haram in the Far North region 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 military, gendarmerie, and police officers. Figures from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, show that Cameroon is currently hosting over 439,161 refugees, primarily from the Central African Republic (272,144) and Nigeria (113,420).
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 increasingly concentrated in the country's northern regions, where 56% of the poor live.
Cameroon is the largest economy in the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC), a region experiencing an economic crisis triggered by the steep fall in oil prices. Along with its CEMAC partners, Cameroon has therefore had to put fiscal adjustment measures in place to adjust to the terms of trade shock and restore macro-stability and confidence in the common currency.
The World Bank’s Country Economic Memorandum, issued in April 2017, notes that if Cameroon is to become an upper-middle-income country by 2035, it will have to increase productivity and unleash the potential of its private sector.
Cameroon's growth target—a real GDP growth rate of roughly 8% (5.7% per capita) between 2015 and 2035—will be jeopardized by the COVID-19 crisis and is projected to be -0.2%.
Cameroon suffers from weak governance, hindering its development and ability to attract investment. It ranks 152 out of 180 countries in the 2018 Transparency International corruption perceptions index and 166 out of 190 economies in the World Bank’s Doing Business 2019 report.
Last Updated: Jul 01, 2021