Cameroon flag Cameroon: Economic and Political Overview

The economic context of Cameroon

Economic Indicators

With a strategic location that makes the country a natural gateway into the landlocked region of Central Africa (including Chad, Central African Republic, and northern Congo), Cameroon is undoubtedly an influential country in the economic and monetary community of the region. After the Covid-19 pandemic-led recession in 2020, GDP growth rebounded, supported by the non-oil sector recovery and the general global economic recovery and reached 3.8% in 2022 and 4% in 2023 (IMF). In 2024, economic expansion should be fueled by the increase in liquefied natural gas production and heightened mining output, while the decline in oil production will persist due to the maturation of existing oilfields. The IMF forecasts growth at 4.2% this year and 4.4% in 2025.

The fiscal improvements initiated in 2021 are expected to extend into 2024. The IMF-approved program, including an Extended Credit Facility (ECF) and an Extended Fund Facility (EFF) totaling USD 689.5 million over 3 years, is progressively being implemented by the government. This includes initiatives to broaden the tax base and boost revenue. A disbursement of USD 73.6 million was approved in July 2023, bringing the total disbursed amount to USD 493.6 million. Through measures such as reducing fuel subsidies (from 3.7% of GDP in 2022 to 2.6% in 2023) and other forthcoming actions, the program aims to free up budgetary resources for productive investments and social expenditures. Fitch Ratings estimated a budget deficit of 0.8% of GDP last year, which should remain broadly stable at 0.7% in 2024 and 0.8% in 2025. According to the IMF, the general government debt, inclusive of guarantees, arrears, and SONARA debt (equivalent to 2.6% of GDP), is anticipated to decline to 37.2% in 2025 from its level of 45.5% of GDP at the end of 2022, thanks to robust economic growth and moderate fiscal deficits. Inflationary pressures, primarily driven in 2023 by food prices and the reduction in fuel subsidies, resulting in a 15% increase in pump prices, are expected to slightly ease in 2024 due to the decline in global agricultural prices. However, inflation is projected to remain above the 3% target set by the BCEAC, despite the monetary tightening policy adopted by the latter (at 4.8% in 2024).

Despite the rather satisfying economic performances of the country, poverty affects nearly 40% of the population. The Covid-19 crisis increased the extreme poverty rate, which represents around a quarter of the population (World Bank). Because the poverty reduction rate is lagging behind the population growth rate, the overall number of poor in Cameroon increased, and poverty is increasingly concentrated in the North and Far North (World Bank). In 2022, the unemployment rate in the country stood at 3.8% (World Bank, ILO estimate). Nevertheless, according to a 2023 report from INS, the unemployment rate among young graduates (25 to 35 years) is 5 times higher than that of non-schooled individuals.

Main Indicators 20222023 (E)2024 (E)2025 (E)2026 (E)
GDP (billions USD) 44.5148.9653.2157.6661.83
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change)
GDP per Capita (USD) 1,5951,7111,8151,9202,010
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 45.341.939.236.534.6
Inflation Rate (%)
Current Account (billions USD) -1.51-1.39-1.48-1.64-1.71
Current Account (in % of GDP) -3.4-2.8-2.8-2.8-2.8

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database, October 2021

Main Sectors of Industry

Due to its abundant natural resources, Cameroon stands as a major global producer of goods like cocoa, coffee, bananas, palm products, tobacco, rubber, cotton, maize, and cassava. The primary sector contributes to 17% of the GDP and employs 42% of the active population (World Bank). Before the development of oil trade, agriculture was the country's main economic driver. Coffee and cocoa production, which is concentrated in the English-speaking regions, suffers from political instability in the area. Fishing and forestry are two of the country's additional significant activities. The country has high-value varieties of timber. Crop production in 2023 continued to be affected by conflicts and climate.

The secondary sector accounts for 26.3% of the GDP and employs 15% of the workforce. Key industries include petroleum refining, food processing, textiles, cement production, and logging. The petroleum sector, primarily centered around oil refining, plays a significant role in Cameroon's industrial output. Food processing is another vital component, with companies involved in the production of beverages, dairy products, and processed foods. The textile industry, though facing challenges, remains a notable sector, particularly in the production of cotton fabrics. Additionally, cement production contributes to infrastructure development and construction activities. Logging and timber processing, although facing sustainability concerns and regulatory challenges, are important contributors to the economy, reflecting Cameroon's rich forestry resources. Extractive industries represent around 20% of government revenues, a third of exports, and 4% of GDP (EITI). In addition to oil and gas, Cameroon's resources include bauxite ore and iron. LNG production is expected to offset the gradual decline in crude oil production.

The tertiary sector accounts for half of the GDP and employs 42% of the active population. Key areas include telecommunications, banking and finance, transportation, tourism, and retail. The telecommunications industry has experienced significant growth, with increased mobile and internet penetration rates across the country. Banking and financial services play a crucial role in facilitating commerce and investment, with both local and international institutions operating in the sector. Furthermore, retail, driven by urbanization and increasing consumer demand, contributes to commercial activity and employment opportunities across the country.

Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 42.6 15.5 41.9
Value Added (in % of GDP) 17.0 25.5 50.4
Value Added (Annual % Change) 4.2 0.3 5.1

Source: World Bank, Latest Available Data. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.


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Indicator of Economic Freedom


The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labour freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.}}

World Rank:
Regional Rank:

Economic freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Index of Economic Freedom, Heritage Foundation


Country Risk

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Latest Update: April 2024