An Emerging Financial Market

Five years ago, bancarisation rate in Cameroon barely exceeded 10%. Now, the country’s banking sector is buzzing as new commercial banks come into its market where 14 lenders operates and which has a level of bancarisation above 20%.

A rapid growth certainly, but there is still a lot of room for progress. And it is this potential for growth, paired with a real economic vitality that sparks interest for Cameroon’s banking market. Projections are encouraging, idem for profitability prospects. To lenders’ dynamism adds that of telecom operators whose mobile banking offers are seducing more and more Cameroonians.

This month, a report from British analysis and research group The Economist Intelligent Unit welcomed Cameroon’s progress regarding the promotion of financial inclusion. According to official data, the two firms leading the country’s mobile telephony market, Orange and MTN, together, have nearly 5 million customers using their mobile money services.  The trend was also encouraged by the President himself. “Each generation has its challenges it must overcome for the nation’s future! Let me say that for our youth, one of the major challenges is to successfully hop unto the digital economy wagon,” Paul Biya told the youth on February 10, 2016. The government also contributed to the banking sector’s take off as it, in 2013, imposed bancarisation to all its agents.

The microfinance sector also provided many Cameroonians, mostly the modest ones, more accessible financing and management solutions. In spite of all these, there is still the local stock exchange to develop as it fails to convince both companies and investors. Yet, for the country to truly emerge, injecting local savings in the economy’s development is crucial. It is in this framework that Jean-Claude Ngbwa, president of the Financial Markets Commission of Cameroon has gone to Abidjan to learn about the factors behind BRVM’s success. He wishes to use what he learns during his visit to make the Douala Stock Exchange a major market in the years to come.

Emmanuel Ngota

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