Population: 15,803,220 (2001)
Area: 475,442 Km²
Currency: 1 CFA Franc (CFAF) = 100 centimes
Language(s): French, English
Time Zone: GMT+1h00
ISO Code: CM
Dialing Code: +237
This profile of Cameroon and doing business there is an overview. From the drop-down menus at the top of this page, you can access a wide range of additional business information on Cameroon provided both by MBendi and by our clients and partners
The first drop-down menu provides access to more detailed pages on the country’s economy, as well as to profiles of Cameroon’s major industry sectors, particularly mining and oil and gas.
The second drop-down menu allows you to access profiles similar to this one for other countries of the world.
The third drop-down menu allows you to search our various databases of Cameroon business information. This includes companies, organisations including government departments, personalities, projects and facilities.
Finally, the fourth drop-down menu allows you to access a range of Internet applications aimed at assisting you to conduct business more effectively.
The news headlines on this page are updated on a daily basis. You can click on Other News at the end of the headlines in order to get the country’s business news stretching back over several years. Because this overview is only updated every few months, you should use recent news items to build an up to date picture of Cameroon’s business environment.
Cameroon is situated on the West coast of Africa. It is a country that is becoming increasingly urbanized. The capital city is Yaounde while Doula is the largest city and the industrial centre of the country. Cameroon is bordered by the CAR, Chad, the ROC, Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria.
President Paul Biya came to power in November 1982 and is chief of state. Prime Minister Peter Mafany Musonge is the head of the government. He was elected in September 1996. The prime minister is appointed by the president who holds office for seven years at a time.
Human rights abuses as well as corruption within government and state-related organisations shape the political climate.
There is a degree of political tension in the country. There are two factors that contribute towards this The first problem originates from 1972 when the nature of the country’s political structure was changed from that of a decentralized federal structure to a unitary state. There are two groups that have appealed for the restoration of the federal state. One in its original form while the other group has asked for the secession of two English-speaking provinces. The government will not accept either of these options. .
The other contributing factor is the vast amount of political parties that exist in the country. This is as a result of legislation enacted in 1991, legalising the formation of political parties. As a result there are at least 150 political parties. Many of them are dissatisfied with the government’s management policies as well as the rate at which democracy is progressing in the country. While their fears may indeed be grounded, there are many parties that do not have significant supporter bases. Parties tend to support the same ideals of multi-party democracy and also share the ideals of restricted government intervention and the pursuit of private entrepreneurship. The result is often confusing for voters and could prevent their participation in a meaningful democracy as they are not always able to vote for clear democratic principles.
AThe economic situation in Cameroon is similar to that of many African countries although it was formerly a successful economy. Years of economic mismanagement and incorrect policy choices resulted in the country’s economic decline. .
The economy reached rock bottom in the eighties with a fall in the coffee, cocoa and oil prices. Cameroon also experienced a fiscal crisis which caused the situation to worsen. In 1994 the devaluation of the CFA franc should have provided some ease for the country, but the government’s slow implementation of the necessary structural reforms left Cameroon without benefits.
The IMF has since entered into programmes with the country in order to improve the economic situation. In a statement issued at the end of January 2002, the IMF stated that the country had met nearly all of the performance criteria necessary for the organisation’s satisfaction. The organisation praised the improvement of financial and economic conditions and the fact that inflation was largely contained.
A problem that was highlighted by the IMF was the failure of the government to improve public expenditure. While this is a necessary measure, the welfare demands on the government of a poor country sometimes make it difficult for them to control this area as quickly as might be needed. The IMF was also concerned about the slow implementation of structural reforms.
The country’s vulnerability to the fluctuating oil price has caused concern. The government has prioritised the diversification of the economy. This will mean that the reforms recommended by the IMF will have to be implemented. This will mean not only curbing public expenditure but also limiting tax exemptions and reforming the income tax system. The budget for the 2002 fiscal year proved to be encouraging as the government concentrated on areas such as poverty reduction.
The epidemic is placing continuous stress on the government as it has in other African countries. But the government has taken action in the form of policy formulation. A report by the UN that reviewed the situation in the country stated that the government has taken the problem into account in their poverty reduction strategies. This has meant the portions of debt relief savings have been allocated to combating the disease. .
Agriculture is the main economic activity of the population. Petroleum products make up more than half of Cameroon’s exports. Timber also accounts for a significant portion of the country’s imports.
The investment image of Cameroon is made somewhat attractive by the country’s oil and agricultural sectors. However, there are certain features that serve to discourage potential investors from pursuing opportunities in the country. This means that the bureaucracy in the country is at a high level thus slowing down the process time of transactions in the country.
But the government is keen to attract FDI to the country. They have cited various reasons that should prove attractive to potential investors. These include the fact that the country is well situated for entry into the Central African market. The government has also claimed that the country’s human resources are of a high standard and that they also have abundant natural resources. .
The government of Cameroon was one of the first in Africa to take active steps towards the encouragement of FDI. This was the enactment of the Investment Code in the early nineties. It was aimed at investment liberalisation. There are various benefits under the code for firms operating (as well as those wanting to ) in the country. These benefits are for firms whose operations involve processing goods for export as well as those that use imports from the Central African Customs and Economic Union. There are also various investment regimes that a firm may choose to be part of. This is done according to specific criteria laid out by the Code. It is advised to contact Cameroon trade authorities for the exact details regarding the criteria. The Investment Code Management Unit is an authority created especially for the implementation of the Investment Code.
The right to private ownership is recognised in Cameroon, but some analysts have stated that a dysfunctional judiciary cannot guarantee this for potential investors. Corruption is said to feature in this area. Despite this, foreign investors are allowed to own and establish companies in the country. Preferences for companies originating from France exist as part of a convention that was signed between the two countries. While this is not to the overall detriment of investors from other countries., those from France do enjoy some privileges above their foreign counterparts.
Oil and its related products make up the country’s most important export commodities. The country’s export partners include Italy, France and the Netherlands. They also import products such as lumber, cocoa beans, coffee and cotton from Cameroon.
Cameroon is not always able to produce enough food to feed the population, imports include fuel, food, machines, electrical equipment and transport equipment.
There are various airlines that travel to Cameroon. Visitors will be able to take a direct flight from any European city. Those travelling from North America can take a flight to an African hub and then connecting flight. Two such cities are Lagos in Nigeria and Dakar in Senegal.
Travel in the country is generally considered to be safe. It is important to ensure that sufficient medical insurance is obtained when travelling to the country as doctors could ask for payment before providing their services. All visitors need visas, these are valid for three months. An International Health Certificate showing proof of a yellow fever vaccination within the past 10 years is also required.
Communications and Infrastructure
The state of communications in the country has not shown much improvement in recent years. Telephones still only remain accessible for government and business. There is only one internet service provider which caters to a small amount of internet users.
Transport infrastructure in the country is not fully developed and only allows for limited access in many instances. Douala is linked to the major cities in seven provinces by a network of good roads. This is complimented by a rail system which provides an alternative. The maintenance of these transport facilities is not consistent and can be risky.
Investors are often concerned with the risk of expropriation. Cameroon has extensive legal guarantees that prevent an investor from losing revenue if expropriation does occur. The legislation in the country is of an international standard with the investor receiving prior notice as well as compensation if expropriation does occur. There are no regimes that promote confiscation as a form of taxation.
Property rights are also legally protected in the country. The risk lies in the fact that the judiciary is not independent and there have been instances where decisions of the court and government have been inconsistent. While these instances have occurred it is not on a continuing basis and it is not a risk that can be planned for in an investment strategy.
The main risk in Cameroon is that of corruption which has been reported in various though isolated incidents. This has occurred both in the government and the judiciary. While it remains a problem, there have been efforts to improve the situation. This includes reforms in various sectors such as the granting of trade licenses; previously an area of much corruption.
Cameroon has a number of chambers of commerce and industry and details of these can be found via our Organisation Search, as can details of relevant government departments. MBendi’s Company Search allows interested parties to find details of many Cameroon companies