Cameroon is a Central African country bounded to the west and north-west by the Federal Republic of Nigeria over 1,720 km, to the south-west by the Atlantic Ocean over 600 km, to the south by Equatorial Guinea over 183 km and Gabon over 298 km, to the south-west by Congo over 520 km, to the east by the Central African Republic over 822 km and to the north-east by Chad over 1,122 km.
Cameroon is also diversified demographically speaking. It comprises the high densities of the Gulf of Guinea countries, from west to north, and the low densities of Central Africa in the south and east.
The population was estimated at 23,248,044 inhabitants in 2017, unevenly distributed across the national territory and living in rural areas for the most part. It is a young population (56%) including about 58.4% in urban areas. Cameroon has a little more women (50.6%) than men (49.4%)
Cameroon’s relief is characterized by 4 (four) major ensembles:
- the lowlands of the North composed of flood plains;
- the ridge organized around the Mandara Mountains culminating at 1,442 m and the steep sloped reliefs made up of inselbergs and lava cones;
- the various plateau: (the Adamawa plateau, west plateau , and the south plateau)
- the coastal plains, with a maximum depth of 360 km, stretching along the Nigerian border in the North-West (Mamfe basin), thinning out towards Mount Cameroon, opening out in the Douala sedimentary basin and extending in a thin bar up to the border with Equatorial Guinea.
Cameroon’s climate is characterized by two major climatic domains: the equatorial and sub-equatorial domain in the south and the tropical domains in the north.
The equatorial domain comprises several variants influenced by the relief and the proximity of the Atlantic coast. It is characterized by abundant rainfall (more than 1,000 mm of rainfall per year) and, above all, by the absence of a dry season: “dry season” here refers to periods where there is little rain (December-January, and July-August, with local variants). The atmosphere is humid throughout the year: the relative humidity is close to the saturation point and with reduced insulation (less than 2,000 h/year). There is a very slight temperature variation (between 25 and 35oC); the daily and annual temperature range is low.
The tropical domain stretches from the south to the north depending on the latitude with modulations due to the relief: low rainfall, longer dry season, higher daily and annual temperature range.
The tropical climate is characterized by three very different types:
Cameroon is divided into ten administrative regions each having a regional capital.
Table 1: Cameroon’s administrative set-up
Surface area (sq km)
These regions are divided into divisions and sub-divisions (or councils), symbolizing the decentralization process launched in 2004 with the enactment of Law No. 2004/17 of 22 July 2004 on the orientation of decentralization in Cameroon.
Market size and access
The geostrategic position of Cameroon allows it to stand as a natural outlet for the landlocked countries and regions of Central Africa (Chad, Central African Republic and northern Congo). Trade between Cameroon and the other five countries of the CEMAC zone (Central African Republic, Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Chad) allows it to benefit from an estimated market of more than 300 million consumers, including Nigeria, DR Congo and Sudan.
Cameroon’s economy remains the most diversified in Central Africa, thanks not only to the many foreign companies settled there but also to the many national industrial and commercial groups. The country has a wide variety of activities, particularly in forestry and agriculture (cash crops and food crops), hydrocarbons, the beverage industry, sugar factories, oil mills, soap manufacturing, flour-milling, aluminium, cement, metallurgy, primary wood processing, etc.
The country was however hit by the drop in world oil prices. Apart from oil production, the pillars of the Cameroon’s economy are public investment, the good performance of the services sector and the agricultural sector. Exploitation of offshore oil reserves made Cameroon one of the most prosperous nations in tropical Africa, but the overvaluation of the CFA Franc has weakened its economy.
Although foreign investment increased in recent years, its level is still relatively low, due in particular to insufficient infrastructure and the business climate that needs to be improved.
Purchasing power is influenced by a high unemployment rate and a relatively low salary level. The unemployment rate varies with the institutions conducting the census and consideration of the self-employment of the unemployed in petty trade that can be considered as a survival activity in times of joblessness. The unemployment rate is estimated at about 13% according to official statistics, while the underemployment rate stands at 70% according to the Growth and Employment Strategy Paper (GESP).
Beyond the local market, prospects of North-South market development via digital solutions opens other avenues for revenue growth and will help reduce the social divide, without taking into account the country or regional governance or local economic uncertainties, but based on the legendary African solidarity to family attachment and the contribution of its well-being to poverty reduction. These elements make it one of the strong links in this future market and a financial niche to exploit. This competitive market, which is profitable for customers, with its favourable rates and flexibility in trade, remains to be developed and innovated. The vast money transfer market between Cameroon and its Diaspora has recently experienced rapid growth acceleration.
Cameroon enjoys the benefits of various trade agreements including:
-the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) concluded with the European Union (EU), which allows it to maintain access to the European market free of customs duties for the bulk of its exports;
-ACP EU agreements and the European initiative, which allow it to benefit from the few trade preferences on the European market;
-the AGOA framework and, as a Least Developed Country, it is eligible for the American market except for weapons.
Cameroon's long-term vision as an emergent, democratic and united country by 2035 has led to a global brainstorming and the adoption of the guidelines contained in the Growth and Employment Strategy Paper (GESP). GESP, as a guiding document par excellence and valid for a period of ten years (2010-2020), identifies the goals that Cameroon has set for this period, summarized as follows:
·raise growth to an average of 5.5% per year up to 2020;
·reduce underemployment from 75.8% to 50% by 2020;
·bring down the poverty rate to about 28% in 2020.
To achieve these three major goals, the following three strategies were defined:
Referring to the sector-based division adopted under the sector-based strategies review, the “infrastructure” sector is the main pillar for the development and competitiveness of the economy. It is responsible for reducing production and transaction costs, easing activity, increasing the volume of production and giving impetus to social progress. To make this sector play its role in the growth and decent job creation policy that the government intends to implement under GESP, the authorities have identified 5 (five) thrusts aimed at developing communication, energy and telecommunications infrastructures. These include: (i) infrastructure maintenance, (ii) rehabilitation of the existing infrastructure heritage, (iii) development of the national framework, and (iv) institutional capacity building.
According to GESP and through these thrusts, the authorities intend, specifically to: (i) ensure durability of the State’s infrastructural heritage, (ii) extend the infrastructure network and (iii) strengthen the industry, the private sector, governance and the infrastructure sector human resources.
Achieving these goals will be effective through the implementation of 42 selected programmes, drawn from the above thrusts and focusing on: maintenance, rehabilitation, extension/construction of the road network, rail transport infrastructure, air transport, maritime transport, post and telecommunications infrastructure, urban roads and buildings and energy and water infrastructure; strengthening the performance of the construction industry, infrastructure governance, the road works planning and scheduling system; improving and facilitating access to telecommunication/ICT services and improving State property and land management.