Economy of Cameroon

For a quarter of a century following independence, Cameroon was one of the most prosperous countries in Africa. The drop in commodity prices for its principal exportspetroleum, cocoa, coffee, and cotton — in the mid-1980s, combined with an overvalued currency and economic mismanagement, led to a decade-long recession. Real per capita GDP fell by more than 60% from 1986 to 1994. The current account and fiscal deficits widened, and foreign debt grew. Yet because of its oil reserves and favorable agricultural conditions, Cameroon still has one of the best-endowed primary commodity economies in sub-Saharan Africa.

Economy of Cameroon
Ars&Urbis International Workshop - Emiliano Gandolfi 82
Douala, the economic capital of Cameroon
CurrencyCFA franc (XAF)
Calendar year
Trade organisations
GDPIncrease $38.521 billion (nominal, 2018 est.)[1]
Increase $95.262 billion (PPP, 2018 est.)[1]
GDP rank98th (nominal, 2018)
85th (PPP, 2018)
GDP growth
4.6% (2016) 3.5% (2017)
3.8% (2018e) 4.2% (2019f) [2]
GDP per capita
Increase $1,547 (nominal, 2018 est.)[1]
Increase $3,828 (PPP, 2018 est.)[1]
GDP per capita rank
149th (nominal, 2018)
144th (PPP, 2018)
GDP by sector
agriculture: 16.7%
industry: 26.5%
services: 56.8% (2017 est.)[3]
0.942% (2018)[1]
0.6% (2017 est.)[3]
0.9% (2016 est.)[3]
Population below poverty line
37.5% (2014, World Bank)[4]
46.6 high (2014, World Bank)[5]
Labour force
9.912 million (2017 est.)[3]
Labour force by occupation
agriculture: 70%
industry: 13%
commerce: 17% (2001 est.)[3]
Unemployment4.3% (2014 est.)[3]
30% (2001 est.)[3]
Main industries
petroleum production and refining, aluminium production, food processing, light consumer goods, textiles, lumber, ship repair
166th (2017)[6]
ExportsIncrease $4.732 billion (2017 est.)[3]
Export goods
crude oil and petroleum products, lumber, cocoa beans, aluminium, coffee, cotton
Main export partners
 Netherlands 15.6%
 France 12.6%
 China 11.7%
 Belgium 6.8%
 Italy 6.3%
 Algeria 4.8%
 Malaysia 4.4% (2017)[3]
ImportsDecrease $4.812 billion (2017 est.)[3]
Import goods
machinery, electrical equipment, transport equipment, fuel, food
Main import partners
 China 19%
 France 10.3%
 Thailand 7.9%
 Nigeria 4.1% (2017)[3]
Increase -$932 million (2017 est.)[3]
Negative increase $9.375 billion (31 December 2017 est.)[3]
Public finances
Negative increase 36.9% of GDP (2017 est.)[3]
-3.4% (of GDP) (2017 est.)[3]
Revenues5.363 billion (2017 est.)[3]
Expenses6.556 billion (2017 est.)[3]
Economic aidThe Paris Club agreed to reduce Cameroon's debt of $1.3 billion by $900 million, debt relief now totals $1.26 billion (2001)
Standard & Poor's:[7]
B (Domestic)
B (Foreign)
BBB- (T&C Assessment)
Foreign reserves
Increase $3.235 billion (31 December 2017 est.)[3]
Main data source: CIA World Fact Book
All values, unless otherwise stated, are in US dollars.

Finance and Banking

Cameroon’s financial system is the largest in the CEMAC region. Access to financial services is limited, particularly for SMEs. Aside from a traditional tendency for banks to prefer dealing with large, established companies, determining factors are also found in interest rates for loans to SMEs being capped at 15 percent and being heavily taxed. As of 2006, bank loans to SMEs hardly reached 15 percent of total outstanding loans.

Less than 5 percent of Cameroonians have access to a bank account. While the microfinance sector is consequently becoming increasingly important, its development is hampered by a loose regulatory and supervisory framework for microfinance institutions (MFIs). The banking sector is highly concentrated and dominated by foreign commercial banks. 6 out of the 11 largest commercial banks are foreign-owned, and the three largest banks hold more than 50 percent of total financial system assets. While foreign banks generally display good solvency ratios, small domestic banks are in a much weaker position. Their capitalization is well below the average of banks in the CEMAC region and their profits are close to 2 percent, compared to 20 percent for foreign banks in the country. This is partially explained by the high levels of non-performing loans, which reached 12 percent in 2007, leading to most banks holding large amounts of excess reserves as a percentage of deposits and large levels of unutilized liquidity.[8]

In 2018, Cameroon's financial system is being requested by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to increase its tax base to cover the losses from the North-West and South-West Cameroon's regions instabilities, the loss of oil revenue, the failure to deliver on port facilities, and the decline in oil production from mature oil fields. [9]

Macro-economic trend

Cameroon became an oil-producing country in 1977. Claiming to want to make reserves for difficult times, the authorities manage "off-budget" oil revenues in total opacity (the funds are placed in Paris, Switzerland and New York accounts). Several billion dollars are thus diverted to the benefit of oil companies and regime officials. The influence of France and its 9,000 nationals in Cameroon remains considerable. African Affairs magazine noted in the early 1980s that they "continue to dominate almost all key sectors of the economy, much as they did before independence. French nationals control 55% of the modern sector of the Cameroonian economy and their control over the banking system is total.[10]

Recent signs, however, are encouraging. As of March 1998, Cameroon's fifth IMF program — a 3-year enhanced structural adjustment program approved in August 1997 — is on track. Cameroon has rescheduled its Paris Club debt at favorable terms. GDP has grown by about 5% a year beginning in 1995. There is cautious optimism that Cameroon is emerging from its long period of economic hardship.

2006Cameroonian exports
Cameroonian exports in 2006

The Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility (ESAF) signed recently by the IMF and Government of Cameroon calls for greater macroeconomic planning and financial accountability; privatization of most of Cameroon's nearly 100 remaining non-financial parastatal enterprises; elimination of state marketing board monopolies on the export of cocoa, certain coffees, and cotton; privatization and price competition in the banking sector; implementation of the 1992 labor code; a vastly improved judicial system; and political liberalization to boost investment.

France is Cameroon's main trading partner and source of private investment and foreign aid. Cameroon has an investment guaranty agreement and a bilateral accord with the United States. USA investment in Cameroon is about $1 million, most of it in the oil sector. Inflation has been brought back under control. Cameroon aims at becoming emerging by 2035.

This is a chart of trend of gross domestic product of Cameroon at market prices estimated by the International Monetary Fund with figures in millions of Central African CFA Francs.

Year Gross Domestic Product US Dollar Exchange
1980 1,600,186 209.20 Francs
1985 4,355,977 471.12 Francs
1990 3,804,428 300.65 Francs
1995 4,686,286 518.62 Francs
2000 6,612,385 658.21 Francs
2005 8,959,279 527.29 Francs

The government embarked upon a series of economic reform programs supported by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) beginning in the late 1980s. Many of these measures have been painful; the government slashed civil service salaries by 65% in 1993. The CFA franc — the common currency of Cameroon and 13 other African states — was devalued by 50% in January 1994. The government failed to meet the conditions of the first four IMF programs.

The following table shows the main economic indicators in 1980–2017.[11]

Year 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
GDP in $
10.84 bil. 21.84 bil. 22.62 bil. 23.22 bil. 31.52 bil. 43.88 bil. 46.80 bil. 50.40 bil. 53.18 bil. 54.76 bil. 57.33 bil. 60.93 bil. 64.87 bil. 69.48 bil. 74.89 bil. 79.98 bil. 84.60 bil. 88.86 bil.
GDP per capita in $
1,228 2,161 1,935 1,715 2,028 2,460 2,551 2,673 2,744 2,748 2,807 2,910 3,023 3,159 3,322 3,461 3,572 3,660
GDP growth
9.9 % 8.1 % −6.2 % 3.3 % 3.6 % 2.0 % 3.5 % 4.9 % 3.5 % 2.2 % 3.4 % 4.1 % 4.5 % 5.4 % 5.9 % 5.6 % 4.5 % 3.2 %
(in Percent)
7.7 % 4.2 % 1.5 % 25.8 % 1.2 % 2.0 % 4.9 % 1.1 % 5.3 % 3.0 % 1.3 % 2.9 % 2.4 % 2.1 % 1.9 % 2.7 % 0.9 % 0.6 %
Government debt
(Percentage of GDP)
... ... ... ... 79 % 48 % 20 % 15 % 12 % 12 % 15 % 16 % 15 % 18 % 22 % 31 % 31 % 34 %

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e "World Economic Outlook Database, April 2019". International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  2. ^ "January 2019 Global Economic Prospects -- Darkening Skies p. 112" (PDF). World Bank. Retrieved 27 March 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r "The World Factbook". Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 8 February 2019.
  4. ^ "Poverty headcount ratio at national poverty lines (% of population)". World Bank. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
  5. ^ "GINI index (World Bank estimate)". World Bank. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
  6. ^ "Ease of Doing Business in Cameroon". Retrieved 24 January 2017.
  7. ^ "Sovereigns rating list". Standard & Poor's. Retrieved 26 May 2011.
  8. ^ "Cameroon Financial Sector Profile: MFW4A - Making Finance Work for Africa".
  9. ^
  10. ^ Thomas Deltombe, Manuel Domergue, Jacob Tatsita, Kamerun !, La Découverte, 2019
  11. ^ "Report for Selected Countries and Subjects". Retrieved 29 August 2018.

External links

Afriland First Bank

Afriland First Bank is a full-service bank in Cameroon, with subsidiaries in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea, Liberia, South Sudan, São Tomé and Príncipe and Zambia. The bank was founded in Yaoundé in 1987 under the name of Caisse Commune d'Epargne et d'Investissement. It is the largest financial services group in Cameroon.

Agriculture in Cameroon

Agriculture in Cameroon is an industry that has plenty of potential.

Bank of Central African States

The Bank of Central African States (French: Banque des États de l'Afrique Centrale, BEAC) is a central bank that serves six central African countries which form the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa:


Central African Republic


Equatorial Guinea


Republic of the CongoPhilibert Andzembe of Gabon was Governor of the BEAC from July 2007 until October 2009, when he was fired by the new president of Gabon, Ali Bongo, in response to a bank scandal in which $28.3 million went missing from the bank's Paris branch. Jean Félix Mamalepot, also from Gabon, was Governor for preceding 17 years.In December 2010, a WikiLeaks memo dated July 7, 2009, said that Gabonese officials working for the Bank of Central African States stole US$36 million over a period of five years from the pooled reserves, giving much of the money to members of France's two main political parties.


Cameroon ( (listen); French: Cameroun), officially the Republic of Cameroon (French: République du Cameroun), is a country in Central Africa. It is bordered by Nigeria to the west and north; Chad to the northeast; the Central African Republic to the east; and Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and the Republic of the Congo to the south. Cameroon's coastline lies on the Bight of Biafra, part of the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean. Although Cameroon is not an ECOWAS member state, it is geographically and historically in West Africa with the Southern Cameroons which now form her Northwest and Southwest Regions having a strong West African history. The country is sometimes identified as West African and other times as Central African due to its strategic position at the crossroads between West and Central Africa.

French and English are the official languages of Cameroon. The country is often referred to as "Africa in miniature" for its geological and cultural diversity. Natural features include beaches, deserts, mountains, rainforests, and savannas. The highest point at almost 4,100 metres (13,500 ft) is Mount Cameroon in the Southwest Region of the country, and the largest cities in population-terms are Douala on the Wouri river, its economic capital and main seaport, Yaoundé, its political capital, and Garoua. The country is well known for its native styles of music, particularly makossa and bikutsi, and for its successful national football team.

Early inhabitants of the territory included the Sao civilisation around Lake Chad and the Baka hunter-gatherers in the southeastern rainforest. Portuguese explorers reached the coast in the 15th century and named the area Rio dos Camarões (Shrimp River), which became Cameroon in English. Fulani soldiers founded the Adamawa Emirate in the north in the 19th century, and various ethnic groups of the west and northwest established powerful chiefdoms and fondoms. Cameroon became a German colony in 1884 known as Kamerun.

After World War I, the territory was divided between France and the United Kingdom as League of Nations mandates. The Union des Populations du Cameroun (UPC) political party advocated independence, but was outlawed by France in the 1950s, leading to the Bamileke War fought between French and UPC militant forces until early 1971. In 1960, the French-administered part of Cameroon became independent as the Republic of Cameroun under President Ahmadou Ahidjo. The southern part of British Cameroons federated with it in 1961 to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon. The federation was abandoned in 1972. The country was renamed the United Republic of Cameroon in 1972 and the Republic of Cameroon in 1984. Large numbers of Cameroonians live as subsistence farmers. Since 1982 Paul Biya has been President, governing with his Cameroon People's Democratic Movement party. The country has experienced tensions coming from the English-speaking territories. Politicians in the English-speaking regions have advocated for greater decentralisation and even complete separation or independence (as in the Southern Cameroons National Council) from Cameroon. In 2017, tensions in the English-speaking territories escalated into open warfare.

Cameroon Development Corporation

The Cameroon Development Corporation is an agro-industrial complex that grows, processes and markets tropical export crops. It operates in Cameroon in the Central African sub-region. It is a parastatal company with current share capital of 35,718,806,000 FCFA, and its operations are coordinated by the General Manager and governed by a Board of Directors presided by a Chairman. Currently, its plantations cover a total of approximately 42,000 Hectares of land, 38,000 Hectares is mature and of production stage. The corporation constitutes a workforce of over 22,036 employees, including temporary workers, making it the second highest employer after the state of Cameroon. Its major products include banana, semi-finished rubber, palm oil and palm kernel oil.

The CDC operates in groups, with each group controlling its own crop. For example the Group Palms Management is in charge of palm tree planting, growing, harvesting of palm fruits and the production of palm oil for export and local consumption.

Staff operates in 3 levels: Senior service, intermediate service and Laborers.

Cameroonian American Chamber of Commerce

The Cameroonian American Chamber of Commerce (CAMAM) is an NGO founded in 2014 with the aim of advocating for private sector development in Cameroon by promoting the active engagement of the diaspora in the United States, as well as generating awareness about investment opportunities in Cameroon. Its offices are based in Washington, D.C.

CAMAM was founded by Francis Ikome, an Italian-Cameroonian international business consultant, retired professional athlete, and former managing partner of the Africa Investment Agency.CAMAM is a member of the U.S. Black Chambers (USBC) and the International Diaspora Engagement Alliance (IDEA).

Coffee production in Cameroon

Coffee production is very important for the economy of Cameroon

The crop is grown extensively in the country, with robusta more prevalent in the coastal areas and arabica more widespread in the western highlands. The two varieties of arabica cultivated are Java and Jamaïca of which only Java is resistant to pests such as Coffee Berry Disease and rust. In 2014, Cameroon was ranked the 31st largest producer of coffee in world.

Commercial Bank Group

Commercial Bank Group, is a financial services organization in Central Africa. The Group's headquarters are located in Douala, Cameroon, with subsidiaries in Cameroon, Chad, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea and São Tomé and Príncipe.

Douala Stock Exchange

The Douala Stock Exchange (DSX in abbreviation) is the official market for securities in Cameroon. It is located in Douala.

Economic Community of Central African States

The Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS; French: Communauté Économique des États de l'Afrique Centrale, CEEAC; Spanish: Comunidad Económica de los Estados de África Central, CEEAC; Portuguese: Comunidade Económica dos Estados da África Central, CEEAC) is an Economic Community of the African Union for promotion of regional economic co-operation in Central Africa. It "aims to achieve collective autonomy, raise the standard of living of its populations and maintain economic stability through harmonious cooperation".

Economic crisis of Cameroon

The Cameroonian economic crisis was a downturn in the economy of Cameroon from the mid-1980s to the early 2000s. The crisis resulted in rising prices in Cameroon, trade deficits, and loss of government revenue. The government of Cameroon acknowledged the crisis in 1987. Outside observers and critics blamed poor government stewardship of the economy. The government instead placed the blame on the fall of the prices of export commodities, particularly a steep drop in the price of petroleum. President Paul Biya announced that "all our export commodities fell at the same time."Cameroon's trade partners, particularly France, Germany, and the United States, offered to help the country, but Cameroon balked at their condition that the country follow strict cost cutting suggestions laid out by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Instead, Cameroon formulated its own plan. Civil servants lost access to subsidised electricity, housing, and telephones; parts of the government's vehicle fleet were sold; older civil servants were forced into retirement; the official working schedule was changed; economic missions in foreign embassies from Cameroon were closed; and state and parastatal enterprises were privatised. The 1987–1988 budget reduced government spending by 18%, the first time in the country's history that the budget decreased.The measures met with international approval, but violent crime rose as a result. Cameroon's plan also failed to rein in corruption. By October 1988, the intended effect was less than had been hoped, and Cameroon agreed to an IMF aid package worth $150 million and accepted a structural adjustment program (SAP) loan from the World Bank. The African Development Bank, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom loaned the government further funds. Cameroon has since focused on paying off its international debt and further restricting public salaries and pay rises to civil servants.

However, the consensus among Cameroonians both at home and overseas is that the economic hardship is as a result of public funds theft by the Biya administration. Members of his regime constantly steel public funds and build mega structures in other countries such as France without any serious legal action being taken by the Biya administration. Biya himself is known to have resorts in Europe where he spends more time enjoying the proceeds of his theft than he does in his own country.


FORUDEF (Food and Rural Development Foundation) is a Cameroonian NGO founded in 1998 with the purpose of improving the standards of living in the south west region of Cameroon. Its head office is situated in Buea, while many of its activities are being executed in the surrounding areas, such as Mamfe, Limbe and Akwaya. Besides involvement in the fight against HIV/AIDS, FORUDEF has been carrying out activities in various areas, such as

Training communities in the participatory process for the fight against HIV/AIDS and other health related issues, such as malaria prevention and general hygiene and sanitation

Providing care to orphans either infected with HIV/AIDS or who have become orphans due to losses in their family units, caused by HIV/AIDS

Sensitising the prevention of HIV/AIDS and Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT)

Enhancing access and benefits from participatory natural resource management and agriculture

Enhancing local capacities in the management of natural resources

Promoting partnership and networking for institutional sustainability

Adding voice and contribution to social change in development

Ensuring ecological sustainability in the region

List of regions of Cameroon by Human Development Index

This is a list of regions of Cameroon by Human Development Index as of 2018 with data for the year 2017.

List of supermarket chains in Cameroon

This is a list of supermarket chains in Cameroon.

Casino Supermarkets

DOW Distribution

Eco Marché


Le Bon Point

Leader Price

Mahima Supermarkets


Super U


Santa Lucia

Bel Achat


National Financial Credit Bank

National Financial Credit Bank SA (NFCB) is a commercial bank in Cameroon. It is one of the fourteen licensed commercial banks in the country.


Ngovayang is an iron ore mining site in north-central Cameroon. It is controlled by the Indian company Jindal Steel and Power.

Planned liberalism

Planned liberalism is an economic policy followed in Cameroon since the 1960s that aims to merge the best concepts of capitalism and socialism.

In 1965, Cameroon changed from its previous economic philosophy, African socialism, under the guidance of its first president, Ahmadou Ahidjo. Under planned liberalism, the state began regulating and managing natural resources and guiding foreign investment into specific economic sectors or geographic areas. In the process, the government has partnered with foreign firms to set up various parastatal enterprises. Meanwhile, it has encouraged private enterprise and investment and the operation of market forces.Critics claim that planned liberalism has failed due to widespread corruption, overwhelming government bureaucracy, and ill-advised government backing of certain foreign investors. These faults became evident during the economic crisis of the mid-1980s. Cameroon under Paul Biya has since increasingly turned to privatisation of state-owned industries to stimulate its economy.

Union Bank of Cameroon

Union Bank of Cameroon Plc. (UBC), is a commercial bank in Cameroon. It is one of the commercial banks licensed by the Central Bank of Central African States, the national banking regulator.

Sovereign states
States with limited
Dependencies and
other territories

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