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Economic Cooperation, Regional Integration & Trade

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Thematic analysis: Structural transformation and natural resources

Authors: Richard-Antonin Doffonsou, Lisa Simrique Singh

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  • GDP growth in 2013 reached 4.9% and should stay around this level in 2014 and 2015.
  • Cameroon has remained stable in a region marked by political and security crises, but must use growth to reduce poverty.
  • Cameroon has a limited role in global value chains but has a proactive policy to develop the promising agriculture, forestry and livestock and fisheries sectors.

Despite a difficult global context marked by lower commodity prices and deteriorating terms of trade, domestic economic activity has remained solid. Domestic demand has continued to grow, driven by major infrastructure projects and measures to revive production in several sectors. Growth recorded in 2012 was consolidated in 2013, although it was slightly lower than forecast. This growth was driven mainly by the tertiary sector, which accounted for 47.8% of gross domestic product (GDP), one percentage point higher than in 2012, thanks to strong performances by the transport, telecommunications, trade and hotel and catering industries. Growth was also supported by a recovery in certain branches of the secondary sector, with strong performances by the construction and extractive industries (oil and gas) and investments in basic infrastructure. This growth trend is forecast to continue in 2014 and 2015.

In 2013, Cameroon produced a medium-term budgetary framework in line with a directive issued by the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CAEMC) on programme budgets. The framework is in line with the growth and employment strategy paper for 2010-20 (Document de stratégie pour la croissance et l’emploi, DSCE), emphasising growth and employment and focusing action on developing infrastructure through major energy, transport and telecommunications projects. In addition to these actions to reduce production-factor costs, measures have been taken to support the modernisation of Cameroon’s production equipment, especially in the agricultural sector (tractor assembly plant in Ebolowa), and to support the development of manufacturing industries (leasing). The aim is to ensure that natural resources are exploited judiciously – especially in the agriculture, forestry and livestock and fisheries sectors – by growing the value chain of promising sectors (cotton, textile and clothing; timber; cocoa; rubber; etc.) through the promotion of agri-business. This strategy contributes to fiscal sustainability by reducing the country’s strong dependence on export revenue and oil prices. The strategy also aims to strengthen competitiveness by incorporating a larger market share into intra-regional trade. Achieving this objective will be helped by additional roads leading to the main sub-regional markets in CAEMC countries and Nigeria.

Parliamentary and local elections ran smoothly, bolstering socio-political stability in a region plagued by political and security crises. These elections redistributed the roles of the president’s ruling party and the opposition, but the president still holds a comfortable parliamentary majority, allowing his party to legislate without risk.

Table 1: Macroeconomic indicators

Real GDP growth4.44.955.1
Real GDP per capita growth1.
CPI inflation2.
Budget balance % GDP-1.9-3.7-4.1-4.6
Current account balance % GDP-3.3-3.3-3.4-3.6

Source: Data from domestic authorities; estimates (e) and projections (p) based on authors’ calculations.