DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CAMEROON : Economic Perspectives

Cameroon benefits from a strategic location that makes the country a natural gateway to the landlocked region of Central Africa (with countries such as Chad, the Central African Republic …). Cameroon is thus one of the most influential country in Central African Economic and Monetary Community.

The Covid-19 pandemic drove the country’s economy into a recession, -2.8% according to the IMF.

  • The Primary sector accounts for 2% of the country’s GDP and employs up to 43.5% of the workforce. Thanks to its abundant natural resources, Cameroon is one of the world’s leading producers of commodities such as Cocoa, Coffee, Bananas, Palm products, Tobacco, Rubber, Cotton, Maize and Cassava… Unfortunately, Coffee and Cocoa production, suffer from political instability in the English-speaking regions where they are produced.
  • The Industrial Sector contributes to 25% of GDP and barely employs 14.4% of the working population. The Oil sector dominates the country’s economic activity, the country’s main industries are food processing, sawmills, light consumer goods manufacturing and textiles. Besides Oil and Gas, Cameroon’s resources include bauxite ore and iron.
  • The Tertiary Sector contributes to 6% of GDP and employs about 42.1% of the total working population. The sector benefits from the economic activity created around major energy projects. The service sector is booming driven by the telecommunications, Air traffic and Transport sectors.

Despite the country’s economic performances, poverty still affects nearly 40% of the population, or about 8 million people. The rate of population growth, higher than the rate of poverty reduction, has increased the number of poor people, concentrated in the North of the country. This is also where the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram regularly attacks. The unemployment rate in the country stands at 5.7%.

Population (2020, INE)22.44 million inhabitants
GDP / Capita USD (2020, IMF)USD 566
HDI (2020, UNDP)189th over 189
Doing Business (2020 World Bank rank) 132nd over 189
Corruption Perceptions Index 2020123rd over 180
Unemployment rate (World Bank 2020)0.7%

On a Demographic point on view, about 6 million people live in the Capital Douala and the second big town Yaoundé. 51% of the population have Tribal religions, 33% are Christian (South), 16% are Sunni Muslims (North). Density is at 53 inhabitants per Km², and literacy rate barely reaches 67.9% of the population.

On a Political point on view, President Paul Biya, in power since November 6, 1982, was re-elected in October 2018 for a new term of seven years. His party, the Cameroonian’s Democratic Rally, won 152/180 seats in the National Assembly and 316/360 in February 2020 municipalities.

On an Economical point of view, growth is expected to rebound in 2021 to 3.4% and maintain its upward trajectory in 2022 with 4.3%. This performance is supposed to be driven by public investments in projects such as the Lom-Pangar and Nachtigal hydroelectric dam and the port of Kribi. Huge infrastructure projects are being built in Cameroon for the African Cup of Nations in 2022, infrastructure that will accelerate the recovery of the economy. Oil and Gas which represent the biggest export revenues, will also benefit from higher prices. Raw material exports will resume due to the restart of supply chains.

Despite the coronavirus, the deficit and public debt have remained stable. This stability was mainly due to the restrictive fiscal policy implemented by the country before the pandemic. The government also implemented a stimulus plan relying on the IMF’s emergency Fund. USD 226 Million has been invested to cover additional financing needs while the suspension of debt payments has relieved the economy. In 2021, inflation will drop from 2.8% to 2.3%. The debt-to-GDP ratio will decrease slightly from 43.2% in 2020 to 42.5% in 2021. The overall deficit will reach 4.6%.

Economic Indicators201820192020e 2021e 2022e
GDP ($ Billion current price)12.8512.9113.7015.9018.53
GDP growth (%)7.25.91.26.912.8
Inflation rate (%)2.8-2.52.80.42.0
Public debt (% GDP)38.939.844.244.542.0
Current balance (% GDP)-12.6-12.3-13.3-17.0-10.7

Focus on Exports and Imports

In 2019, Cameroon was the number 92nd economy in the world in terms of GDP (current US$), the 114th exporter in the world and 152nd importer in the world. The country exported USD 5.21 Billion and imported USD 6.07 Million, resulting in a negative trade balance of USD 860 000.

The top exports of Cameroon are Crude Petroleum ($1.89B), Cocoa Beans ($647M), Sawn Wood ($518M), Gold ($454M) and Petroleum ($404M). Cameroon exports mostly to China ($906M), Netherlands ($702M), Italy ($476M), United Arab Emirates ($397M), and India ($381M).

The top imports are Crude Petroleum ($347M), Scraps Vessels ($332M), Rice ($323M), Special Purpose Ships ($216M) and Packaged Medicaments ($169M). It imports mostly from China ($1.68B), Nigeria ($889M), France ($567M), Belgium ($334M) and Thailand ($237M).

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