Low growth, mounting discontent


SENSITIVE RISK for entreprise

  • Economic risk

  • Business environment risk

  • Political risk

  • Commercial risk

  • Financing risk

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GDP USD 24.2bn (World ranking 100, World Bank 2016)
Population 23.4 million (World ranking 55, World Bank 2016)
Form of state Multiparty Presidential Republic
Head of government Paul BIYA
Next elections Presidential October 2018, legislative September 2018
  • A degree of political stability has been achieved under the lengthy rule of the current leadership, yet some infringements on liberties may have occurred
  • Relatively good relations with donors and international financial institutions
  • Membership of the CFA franc zone provides a relatively stable monetary policy .It also reduces exchange rate and transfer risk
  • Ever more diversified exports boost economic resilience.
  • Underdeveloped infrastructure and lack of decentralization limit service provision.
  • Cameroon’s business environment ranks among the worst in the world.
  • Relations with Nigeria and the Economic Community of Central African states remain uneasy due to border and trade disputes.
  • President Biya’s health has been a concern and there are associated uncertainties over succession.
  • Increased risk of social unrest because of rising public frustration with perceptions of weak improvement in living standards

Growth is resilient but weakening

As many oil exporters, Cameroon’s growth experiences more volatility than regional average. Despite the slump in oil prices and the security crisis, the economy proves more resilient than regional counterparts. Diversification in the non-oil sector is the key.

Large infrastructure works and increased support to the agricultural and forestry sectors drove the performance of the non-oil sectors. This led to a more sustainable economy, which in turn boosts resistance to external shocks.

The country also managed to limit the revenue losses related to the slump in oil price by increasing its supply. As a result, the Cameroonian economy grew by +4.5% in 2016.  EH expects GDP growth to reach +4% in 2017 and +4.5% in 2018.

Cameroon’s business environment still needs to improve for performance to rise above current levels. While the country managed to slightly improve its ranking in the 2017 World Bank Doing Business survey (166th out of 190 up from 172nd in 2016) its record on property registration and contract enforcement remains poor.

Debt, twin deficits and lower liquidity: still manageable

The non-oil sectors benefit from large public investments in transport networks, water supply, dams and electrification. These are partly driven by inward investment necessitating capital goods and other imports. Along with China’s economic slowdown, this results in a current account deficit of -3.6% in 2016. EH estimates it will reach -3% in 2017 and 2018.

In addition, Cameroon has a fiscal deficit which is projected to slightly decrease to -3.5% in 2017 and -3% in 2018.The latter was exacerbated by increased defence spending associated with the regional security crisis.   

This structural twin deficit has raised the need for fresh financing. In June 2017, the IMF approved a US$666.2 million extended credit facility, in support of structural reforms aimed at curbing the twin deficit and public debt. The import covers of foreign exchange reserves were halved within a year from 8 months in 2016 to 4 months in 2017. While reserves are still in the comfort zone liquidity issues could arise if FDI dries up.

Political uncertainty

The 20% that make up the Anglophone component of Cameroonian society has been raising claims about exclusion. This crisis that troubles the country since October 2016 could lead to more violence by radicalized separatists and federalist groups in the medium term. The government will have to adequately respond, before the 2018 elections.

The continued threat by the terrorist group Boko Haram in northern Cameroon weighs on the agriculture and tourism sectors.

Trade structure by destination/origin

(% of total)

Exports Rank Imports
China 13%
23% China
India 12%
13% Nigeria
Spain 10%
11% France
Netherlands 9%
4% United States
Italy 6%
4% Belgium

Trade structure by product

(% of total)

Exports Rank Imports
Petroleum, petroleum products and related materials 34%
18% Petroleum, petroleum products and related materials
Coffee, tea, cocoa, spices, and manufactures thereof 20%
9% Cereals and cereal preparations
Cork and wood 15%
8% Road vehicles
Vegetables and fruits 7%
4% Other industrial machinery and parts
Textiles fibres and their wastes 4%
4% Fish, crustaceans, molluscs and preparations thereof

Payment behavior is generally satisfactory, with payments being made within 60 days, despite contract terms typically stating 30 days. Payment terms are at the discrection of the parties, to be agreed in their contract.

  • Low

  • Medium

  • Sensitive

  • High

  • Payments

  • Court proceedings

  • Insolvency proceedings

Financial information cannot always be relied upon, so trading history is often a better indicator of a company’s viability.

It is common to see companies of bad faith proceeding with insolvency in order to avoid paying their debts, as they are able to easily remove goods from the company during audits to present a more difficult picture of their situation. With deep auditing and investigation, it is possible to prove that insolvency has been deliberately created and adequate legal measures can be taken to pursue such deceptive insolvents.​

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Collection complexity Cameroon

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