Economy of Cameroon


Cameroon had been a German colony for a long period and then a League of Nations Mandate Territory under control of British and French. Accordingly there was no economic structure for Cameroon as an independent nation. However after independence in 1960-61, the need was felt for a substantially strong economic structure to support the economy of the country.

When President Ahmadou Ahidjo assumed power he tried to implement an economic policy of planned liberalism , where cash crops were prioritized. But when petroleum was discovered in the 1970 s, it drew all focus towards itself. A national cash reserve was created fro the money generated from the oil sector. Major development projects were financed and farmers were paid from the same source. All major sectors were improvised but it was not properly utilized and hence failed grossly .

After Ahidjo was removed from office, Paul Biya the next President was faced with the major challenge of bringing the economy back to its former state from the great crisis it was faced with across the 1980 s and 1990 s. Perpetuated by international economic conditions, drought, falling petroleum prices, years of corruption , and mismanagement along with the petroleum debacle mastered by Ahidjo, led President Biya to turn to foreign aid to re-stabilize the economy.

Dominated by agriculture , the economy of Cameroon is ably supplemented by production of Petroleum and the manufacturing sector. A largely agrarian economy, agriculture comprises about 45% of the GDP. Among the highest producers of coffee and cocoa in the world, these form the bulk of the agricultural produce along with cotton, wood and cork . The timber processing industry is being strengthened to substantiate the production of wood. Petroleum, basic manufacturing, machinery and transport equipment bring in additional income. Fishing and Bushmeat also contributes to the revenue largely and steadily as their value hardly fluctuates.

A look at the following statistics will provide a stronger view of the economy of Cameroon:

GDP: $2,400 per capita

Agriculture: 45.2%
industry: 16.1%
Services: 38.7%

Inflation: 2.4%

Unemployment: 30%

Arable land: 13%.

Agriculture: coffee, cocoa, cotton, rubber, bananas, oilseed, grains, root starches; livestock; timber.

Labor force: 6.86 million

Agriculture: 70%,

Industry and Commerce: 13%,

Other: 17%

Industries: petroleum production and refining, aluminum production, food processing, light consumer goods, textiles, lumber, ship repair.

Natural resources: petroleum, bauxite, iron ore, timber, hydropower.

Exports: $3.236 billion f.o.b.

Export Commodities: Crude oil and petroleum products, lumber, cocoa beans, aluminum, coffee, cotton.

Exports partners:
Spain 17.4%
Italy 13.8%
France 9.5%
South Korea 8.1%
UK 8.1%
Netherlands 7.9%
Belgium 4.9%
US 4.3% (2005)

Imports: $3.083 billion machinery, electrical equipment, transport equipment, fuel, food.

Import Commodities: Machinery, electrical equipment, transport equipment, fuel, and food

Imports partners:
France 24%
Nigeria 12%
Belgium 6.3%
China 5.6%
US 5.1%
Thailand 4.5%
Germany 4.2%

The Government, however, has not been able to recover from the economic setbacks suffered in the earlier decades. Earlier in 1994, when CFA Franc was devalued to half its value overnight, prices shot up for all imported goods. Cameroonian GDP was a few ups and downs when it increased by 3.3% in 1994–95 , an improvement from the decline of 4.3% in 1993–94 . The 2001 real growth rate of the GDP was around 5%.