Cameroon’s ruling party, the Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM), dominates the country’s political landscape. Incumbent President Paul Biya has been in power since 1982, securing re-election in 2011 with 78% of the vote. The current renewable 7 years mandate is reaching its conclusion with next elections due in 2018, a constitutional amendment in 2008 removed presidential term limits.
Through its Growth and Employment Strategy Paper (2010-20 GESP), Cameroon targets an average of 6% GDP growth per annum between 2010-20, and to become an emerging economy by 2035. Over the previous years the economy, the driving force of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CAEMC), has remained resilient despite stagnation in the global and regional market: an overall stagnation in OECD member countries, a slowdown of growth in several emerging economies, and a fall in oil prices affecting the country’s export earnings. Growth though not quite hitting the set target has been hovering around an average of over 5% with 2015 being estimated at 5.7%. This growth could be attributed to the diversification policy that aims to develop the value chains in agriculture, as well as the construction sector and a reliable energy supply. The growth of the secondary sector, especially in the construction sector (7.3%), was a driving force for country’s growth in 2015, followed by the tertiary sector (telecommunications, transport, and financial services). Oil production that makes Cameroon a net oil exporter rose by an exceptional 28.3% as new fields began production.
Economic prospects in Cameroon have been redefined in early March 2017 as the IMF announced that it had started to discuss a three-year economic and financial program that would run through until 2019. These efforts are underpinned by the challenges the country faces with regards to a lack of good quality critical infrastructure (e.g. for the transport and energy sectors) and regional disparities in economic growth. With regards to the latter point in particular, overall, poverty decreased from 40% in 2001 to 37.5% in 2014, with urban poverty declining from 18% in 2001 to an estimated 9% in 2014 whilst rural poverty has increased from 52% in 2001 to 56.8% in 2014. Geographically the Northern region is adversely impacted with estimates being that 56% of the country’s poor living there, a situation further exacerbated by the insecurity. The announced goals of the aforementioned IMF program are to strengthen economic outcomes, enhance the business environment to boost private sector investment and economic diversification, and to achieve a more inclusive growth.