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- GDP (PPP):
- $54.2 billion
- 6.9% growth
- 7.2% 5-year compound annual growth
- $3,488 per capita
- Inflation (CPI):
- FDI Inflow:
Cameroon’s economy, although relatively diversified with services accounting for around 40 percent of GDP, is dominated by the public sector. Economic development continues to be hampered by the lack of private-sector dynamism. Modest structural reforms have done little to improve the overall business environment, which is not conducive to investment.
Entrepreneurs face lingering systemic challenges that include inefficient bureaucracy, an unreliable legal system, and poor infrastructure. Restrictions on trade through nontariff barriers raise costs, and the weak judicial system allows pervasive corruption that erodes incentives for long-term economic expansion.
President Paul Biya has ruled since 1982 and was reelected in October 2011 for another seven-year term in an election marred by irregularities. The country is battling the Nigerian Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram, which frequently attacks across the 1,230-mile Cameroon–Nigeria border. The economy is heavily regulated and dependent on exports of such commodities as oil, which accounts for about 40 percent of export earnings. The economy is further hobbled by inefficient parastatal companies in key industries. Cameroon is building a deep-sea port in Kribi and seeking to tap its great hydropower potential by building a dam and hydropower plant on the Lom River. Cameroon currently hosts more than 330,000 refugees, primarily from the Central African Republic and Nigeria.
Protection of real and intellectual property rights is weak, and the slow, inefficient judicial system is vulnerable to political interference. Corruption and cronyism are pervasive. Bribery is commonplace in all sectors, from gaining school admission to fixing traffic infractions. Revenues from oil, gas, and mining are not openly reported. A government anticorruption campaign has been used to remove potential political opponents.
The top individual income tax rate is 35 percent, and the top corporate tax rate is 33 percent. Other taxes include a value-added tax and an inheritance tax. The overall tax burden equals 12.2 percent of total domestic income. Government spending has amounted to 22.8 percent of total output (GDP) over the past three years, and budget deficits have averaged 4.8 percent of GDP. Public debt is equivalent to 33.5 percent of GDP.
Private enterprises still face numerous impediments related to regulatory inefficiency and nontransparency. Despite some reforms, requirements for business entry and exit are time-consuming and costly. The labor market remains inefficient. Lower oil prices significantly reduced the cost of government subsidies for electricity, retail gasoline, diesel, and liquefied natural gas in 2016. Prices for food and other consumer goods are heavily regulated.
Trade is moderately important to Cameroon’s economy; the value of exports and imports taken together equals 43 percent of GDP. The average applied tariff rate is 15.8 percent, and foreign and domestic investors are generally treated equally under the law. The cost of financing remains high, and access to credit is very limited in rural areas. There is a wide network of microfinance institutions.