Unquestionably, Cameroon is one of Central Africa’s beating hearts. Its strategic geographic position as a gateway to nearby landlocked countries, its size (Cameroon alone accounts for half of CEMAC’s combined population and GDP) and its economic potential make this country the economic and commercial engine of the CEMAC zone.
The economy of Cameroon is on the up: the country registered a 4.2% year-on-year growth in the first quarter of 2019 and is estimated to reach 5% in 2020. “Over the past ten years, economic activity has strengthened, with a GDP growth rate rising from 3.5% in 2009 to 4% in 2018,” says Hon. Louis-Paul Motaze, Cameroon’s Minister of Finance. “The growth is mainly driven by the tertiary sector. Cameroon’s economy is the most diversified and resilient in the region. In the period 2019-2021, the country is conducting a programme of economic and social reforms to consolidate its economic growth, complete public finance and public procurement reforms, improve the competitiveness of the economy, the administration and corporate governance, and finally, strengthening social protection and reducing the vulnerability of the poor.” Jean-Marie Benoit, National Director of BEAC, adds, “The current growth of Cameroon reflects the internal dynamism of the economy, and it is also the result of government efforts to stabilise the macroeconomic framework.”
- INFRASTRUCTURE & ENERGY
To consolidate the country’s leading position in the sub-region and ensure continued growth, the government has launched a series of key megaprojects. A new port in Kribi became operational in 2018 to relieve pressure on the Douala terminal, ensure smooth good transit and avoid service disruptions: “Kribi is very well located,” explains Patrice Barthélémy Melom, General Manager of Kribi Port Authority. “We have plenty of land, and people who choose to invest in Kribi will be able to use the port to import and export.”
The national road network is being upgraded, with over 2,883 km of asphalt roads currently under construction: “There are opportunities to build roads to link big cities,” says Njong Eric Njong, Managing Director of Société BUNS. “There is a lot of space for those who want to invest in the construction sector.”
Furthermore, the government invested in hydropower, building new dams (such as the Lom Pangar site), to supply the country with clean and reliable energy: “We increased the guaranteed energy output to 170 MW in two existing power plants in a very short amount of time,” says Théodore Nsangou, Director General of Electricity Development Corporation (EDC). Investments in hydropower, coupled with offshore platforms producing gas for domestic consumption as well as for export purposes, are key steps in Cameroon’s goal to rely less on imported fuels.
From 2013 to 2018, Cameroon has managed to exponentially increase internet access throughout the country: the access rate leapfrogged from 4.3% in 2013 to 43.6% in 2018, mainly due the rapid deployment of over 12,000 km of fibre optic broadband cables, as well as three submarine cables. The Cameroonian government, through the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications led by Hon. Minette Libom Li Likeng, is implementing the government’s “Cameroon Digital 2020” vision that aims at creating an enabling environment for the ICT sector: “ICT have created about 10,000 new direct jobs in the last five years,” Hon. Likeng says. “Mobile data growth and value-added services are new additions that are driving growth within the sector. We are working with our network operators to increase internet penetration and establish reliable digital payment systems to accelerate economic growth.”
Cameroon is a country on the rise, eager to keep diversifying its economy that is ripe with investment opportunities: for instance, the country’s agricultural processing industry has greatly expanded over the past decade, with the number of companies growing from 764 to 2,564. Today, agro-processing accounts for 28% of the added value of the secondary sector, excluding oil.
Cameroon’s investment codes were updated in 2013, providing investors with a common tax, as well as customs, financial and administrative incentives: “Since 2016, Cameroon has a very attractive legislative framework,” says Hon. Gabriel Dodo Ndoke, Minister of Mines, Industries and Technological Development, who adds that the government is investing to train young Cameroonians in the mining sector to ensure it remains a strong employment driver for the country: “Schools and training centres like the ones in Meiganga and Kaele provide a breeding ground for employment in the sector. A structuring and a better organisation of this sector would contribute enormously to further improve the youth employment rate of Cameroon. The same is true of the implementation of the Industrialisation Master Plan, especially in agro-industry. We will work on it.” Indeed, Cameroon is ripe with natural and human resources that make this mighty country a pillar of the surrounding sub-region and the continent. A rich and generous land, eager to welcome and support a new wave of bold investments.