Toward a healthy, productive economy
Cameroon’s economy relies principally on its primary sector, which accounts for 42% of the GDP. The main sources of revenue are agriculture, livestock and fishing, forestry, mining and industry.
The devaluation of the CFA franc in January 1994 boosted the competitiveness of the agricultural sector, leading to renewed economic growth for the country.
Thus, from 2005 to 2009, real GDP rose roughly 4.5% (4.2% in 2004) and the rate of inflation was kept to about 1% per year. Budgetary revenue for the first five months of fiscal 2005 rose to 629 billion CFA francs, compared to 519 billion in 2004.
Meanwhile, tighter control of public expenditures, along with greater generation of revenue—from oil and especially non-oil sources (tax revenue, notably)—led to an improvement in the budget balance.
The war on corruption and poverty is one of the government’s priorities. A multipronged approach has been adopted for eradicating this hindrance to the nation’s economic prosperity.
In 1998, an ad hoc committee for fighting corruption saw the light. In September 2000, the National Anti-Corruption Observatory was created to further this objective. Together, these bodies are gradually weeding out corruption throughout the country and their work has already led to the imprisonment of several criminals.
In addition, a number of anticorruption units have been integrated into public administrations and agencies.
In addition to its geographic location and a thriving culture of entrepreneurship, Cameroon’s economy also boasts numerous agricultural (bananas, cocoa, coffee, cotton, foodstuffs, etc.), forest, mining and industrial resources.
Agriculture, the foundation of the Cameroonian economy
A key sector, the country’s rich and diversified agricultural sector employs 70% of the active population and accounts for 42% of Cameroon’s GDP. The sector features a blend of traditional and cash crops. The main cash crops are cocoa, coffee, cotton, bananas, rubber, potatoes and pepper. Other crops, such as peanuts, plantains, and potatoes are produced essentially for the consumption of households. Renewed and more intense agronomic research has been undertaken with an eye toward improving productivity.
With its 20 million hectares, Cameroon possesses Africa’s second-largest forest after the Democratic Republic of Congo. A regulatory framework has been introduced in order to curb pell-mell logging operations and to promote local processing.
Prior to the crisis of the mid-1980s, the mining sector was the engine of the Cameroonian economy. The country still holds beneath its soil some 100 million tons of oil reserves and 115 billion cubic metres of natural gas. Research into hydrocarbons is ongoing.
Other reserves to be exploited include 1.2 billion tons of bauxite, 300 million tons of iron, 3 million of rutile, as well as deposits of tin, limestone and uranium.
A renewal of investment, private and public alike, and the rise of consumer purchasing power have strengthened the tertiary sector: crafts, business, transportation and telecommunications have all benefited. This is the case particularly as regards the informal sector, which employs a large proportion of the active population, especially in urban areas.
Industry, a lever for growth
The industrial sector has evolved over the years into a proven lever for growth. Agro-industry is experiencing a boom and still holds much untapped potential in a number of applications. Other processing industries, such as the production of aluminum and cotton products as well as oil refining, are in a growth phase.