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flag Cameroon Cameroon: Economic and Political Outline

In this page: Economic Indicators | Foreign Trade in Figures | Sources of General Economic Information | Political Outline


Economic Indicators

With a population of 21.7 million inhabitants and a strategic geographical position on the Gulf of Guinea, which makes it the natural gateway into the landlocked countries and regions of Central Africa (Chad, Central African Republic and northern Congo), Cameroon is undoubtedly an influential country within the economic and monetary community of Central Africa.

The drilling in the offshore oil deposits, since the early 1970s, has made of Cameroon one of the most prosperous nation in tropical Africa; however, economic mismanagement and the overvaluation of the currency have led the country into recession during the last few years. The current account balance has been impaired, fiscal deficits have increased and the foreign debt has grown. The government has committed itself into a series of economic reform programs, supported by the World Bank and the IMF. However, Cameroon's public resources are still characterized by a strong dependence on its oil income. The country's oil production has continued to increase in 2013. It should remain strong in the coming years thanks to the opening of new oil wells and  new extractive techniques. Furthermore, Cameroon is not yet able to attract enough foreign investment, mainly because of insufficient infrastructures and for having one of the highest levels of corruption in the world.

The international financial crisis has hit the Cameroonian economy badly, with sharp declines in export values ​​of many productions. Nevertheless, Growth has been back since 2009 and has reached 4.6% in 2013 (4.7% in 2012). The country remains at the bottom of the World Bank rankings on the business environment (168th out of 189) and it is experiencing an unemployment rate of nearly 75% among young graduates. The Cameroonian banking system has strengthened  but some smaller commercial banks are still in great difficulties and their restructurings are still in the waiting.

Authorities are detailing their policies in favour of health and education, with a new university in Bamenda, hospitals construction and better health services, but in these sectors as well as the others, very few structural projects are coming to fruition. The public sector reform should continue in 2014 with the end of the privatisation process of some public services and the set up of an office centralizing all services for companies in order to help building a good business environment.

Main Indicators 20112012201320142015 (e)
GDP (billions USD) 26.6126.4929.27e32.1634.40
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change)
GDP per Capita (USD) 1,271e1,2341e1,4271,489
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 13.215.419.0e24.428.6
Inflation Rate (%)
Current Account (billions USD) -0.72-0.96-1.07e-1.12e-1.18
Current Account (in % of GDP) -2.7-3.6-3.7e-3.5e-3.4

Source: IMF - World Economic Outlook Database ; CIA - The world factbook , Last Available Data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

Main Sectors of Industry

The primary sector has contributed to 20% of the GDP in 2013. It employs 61% of the active population. Before the development of the oil trade (which alone today represents over 7% of the GDP), agriculture was the country's economic pillar. Cameroon remains one of the world's leading producers of certain foodstuffs, namely cocoa, coffee, bananas, palm products, tobacco, rubber and cotton. Fishing and forestry are two of the country's additional important activities. Cameroon's mineral resources include bauxite ore and iron.

The secondary sector accounts for 31% of the GDP. The country's main industries are food processing, sawmill, the manufacture of light consumer goods and textiles.

The tertiary sector accounts for nearly half of the GDP (49% in 2013) and employs 29% of the active population. It benefits from the economic activity created around large-scale energetic projects. The services sector is booming, driven by the sectors of telecommunications, air traffic and transport.

Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 53.3 12.6 34.1
Value Added (in % of GDP) 22.9 29.9 47.2
Value Added (Annual % Change) 3.7 5.7 6.1

Source: World Bank - Last Available Data.

Monetary Indicators 20092010201120122013
CFA Franc BEAC (XAF) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 USD 472.19495.28471.87510.53494.04

Source: World Bank - Last Available Data.


Learn more about Market Analyses about Cameroon on, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

Indicator of Economic Freedom


The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labor freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.

Mostly Unfree
World Rank:
Regional Rank:

Distribution of Economic freedom in the world
Source: 2014 Index of Economic freedom, Heritage Foundation


Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by Coface.


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Foreign Trade in Figures

Cameroon is open to international trade. It is a member of the Commonwealth, the Free Trade Zone  and the CEMAC (Central African Economic and Monetary Community), as well as the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS (in French)). The share of foreign trade in Cameroon in relation to its GDP is around 50%.

In 2013 its three main export partners were China, with more than 14.2% of exports going to this country, Portugal (11%) and the Netherlands (10.1%). The main export commodities are mineral fuels, oil, wood, coal, cocoa, cotton, and aluminium. Its three main import suppliers are Nigeria (17.8%), France (around 11.8% of imports) and China (10.4%). Cameroon mainly imports mineral fuels, oil, cereals, vehicles, machinery, electrical and electronic equipment.

The European Union is Cameroon's primary trade partner, accounting for more than 50% of its trade (apart from oil). On January 15, 2009, the two entities signed an economic partnership agreement. Consequently, Cameroon has committed itself to liberalize 80% of its imports from this area over a period of 15 years. For some years now, eastern Asian countries (especially China, Japan, India and Thailand) have been reinforcing their trade ties with Cameroon. Today, this zone represents over 20% of the country's total trade.

Due to the massive import of food products, the country's trade balance remains in deficit. As in 2013, Cameroon has is improving its level of openness in 2014, in order to improve its foreign trade performance.

Foreign Trade Indicators 20092010201120122013
Imports of Goods (million USD) 4,3005,1336,5006,5157,000
Exports of Goods (million USD) 3,3703,8784,6004,5004,200
Imports of Services (million USD) 2,0811,7171,9521,548-
Exports of Services (million USD) 1,1581,1051,8091,548-
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) -2.115.713.21.218.3
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) -
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP)
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 16.017.318.418.820.7
Trade Balance (million USD) -208-313-580-274-95
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -920-764-703-775-817
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 37.140.444.945.449.6

Source: WTO - World Trade Organization ; World Bank , Last Available Data


Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
China 15.3%
Portugal 11.8%
Netherlands 11.3%
Spain 11.2%
France 8.7%
See More Countries 41.8%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
Nigeria 17.8%
France 11.9%
China 10.4%
Netherlands 4.1%
India 4.0%
See More Countries 51.8%

Source: Comtrade, Last Available Data


Main Products

- bn USD of products exported in 2012
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude 42.9%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 12.3%
Cocoa beans, whole or broken, raw or roastedCocoa beans, whole or broken, raw or roasted 9.2%
Wood sawn or chipped lengthwise, sliced or barked,...Wood sawn or chipped lengthwise, sliced or barked, whether or not planed, sanded or end-jointed, of a thickness of > 6 mm 6.5%
Cotton, neither carded nor combedCotton, neither carded nor combed 3.4%
See More Products 25.6%
- bn USD of products imported in 2012
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude 20.0%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 8.7%
RiceRice 4.7%
Frozen fish (excl. fish fillets and other fish...Frozen fish (excl. fish fillets and other fish meat of heading 0304) 3.7%
Wheat and meslinWheat and meslin 3.0%
See More Products 60.0%

Source: Comtrade, Last Available Data

See More Products
More imports (Intracen Data)
More exports (Intracen Data)

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Sources of General Economic Information

Website of the Government of Cameroon (just in French)
Statistical Office
National Institute of Statistics
Central Bank
Bank of the States of Central Africa
Stock Exchange
Douala Stock Exchange
Search Engines
Economic Portals
Portal of the Cameroonian government on the economy
Portal on the economy of Cameroon
Information portal on Cameroon that has an excellent section on the economy

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Political Outline

Executive Power
The President is the chief of the state and holds the executive powers. The President is also the head of the armed forces. He is elected by popular vote for a seven-year term . He appoints the Prime Minister (who is the head of the government) and the Cabinet. The President has the power to dissolve the National Assembly and declare by decree a state of emergency which shall confer upon him special powers.
Legislative Power
The legislature is unicameral. The members of the parliament (called National Assembly) are elected by direct popular vote to serve five-year terms. The President can either lengthen or shorten the term of the legislature elections. The constitution of the country calls for an upper chamber for the legislature (Senate) but it has not yet been ( as of 2006) formed. The main responsibility of the National Assembly is to pass laws, but rarely has it changed any laws or blocked the passing of a legislation. The political rights of the people of Cameroon are very much limited.
Main Political Parties
RDCP (Democratic Rally of the Cameroonian People), SDF (Social Democratic Front), UDC (Cameroonian Democratic Union), UPC (Union of Cameroonian People), UNDP (National Union for Democracy and Progress)
Current Political Leaders
President: Paul BIYA (since 6th November 1982, re-elected several times, the latest in Oct 2004) – RDCP
Prime Minister: Ephraim INONI (since December 2004) - RDCP
Next Election Dates
Presidential: October 2018
National Assembly: February 2018

Indicator of Freedom of the Press


The world rankings, published annually, measures the violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire sent to partner organizations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and activists of human rights, including the main criteria - 44 in total - to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:
11 places down compared to 2013

Source: Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2014, Reporters Without Borders


Indicator of Political Freedom


The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Not Free
Political Freedom:

Map of freedom 2014
Source: Freedom House


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Last Updates: October 2014