2017 Index of Economic Freedom

Cameroon

overall score51.8
world rank150
Rule of Law

Property Rights43.5

Government Integrity17.4

Judicial Effectiveness29.6

Government Size

Government Spending84.4

Tax Burden75.4

Fiscal Health60.9

Regulatory Efficiency

Business Freedom44.3

Labor Freedom47.8

Monetary Freedom80.1

Open Markets

Trade Freedom53.4

Investment Freedom35.0

Financial Freedom50.0

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Quick Facts
  • Population:
    • 15.5 million
  • GDP (PPP):
    • $54.2 billion
    • 6.9% growth
    • 7.2% 5-year compound annual growth
    • $3,488 per capita
  • Unemployment:
    • 0.5%
  • Inflation (CPI):
    • 1.2%
  • FDI Inflow:
    • $1.7 billion
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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.

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Background

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.

Rule of LawView Methodology

Property Rights 43.5 Create a Graph using this measurement

Government Integrity 17.4 Create a Graph using this measurement

Judicial Effectiveness 29.6 Create a Graph using this measurement

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.

Government SizeView Methodology

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.

Regulatory EfficiencyView Methodology

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.

Open MarketsView Methodology

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.

Country's Score Over Time

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Regional Ranking

rank country overall change
1Mauritius74.70.0
2Botswana70.1-1.0
3Rwanda67.64.5
4Côte d'Ivoire 633.0
5Namibia62.50.6
6South Africa62.30.4
7Seychelles61.8-0.4
8Swaziland61.11.4
9Uganda60.91.6
10Burkina Faso59.60.5
11Benin59.2-0.1
12Mali58.62.1
13Gabon58.6-0.4
14Tanzania58.60.1
15Madagascar57.4-3.7
16Nigeria57.1-0.4
17Cabo Verde56.9-9.6
18Democratic Republic of Congo56.410.0
19Ghana56.2-6.8
20Guinea-Bissau56.14.3
21Senegal55.9-2.2
22Comoros55.83.4
23Zambia55.8-3.0
24São Tomé and Príncipe 55.4-1.3
25Mauritania54.4-0.4
26Lesotho53.93.3
27Kenya53.5-4.0
28The Gambia53.4-3.7
29Togo53.2-0.4
30Burundi53.2-0.7
31Ethiopia52.71.2
32Sierra Leone52.60.3
33Malawi52.20.4
34Cameroon51.8-2.4
35Central African Republic51.86.6
36Niger50.8-3.5
37Mozambique 49.9-3.3
38Liberia49.1-3.1
39Chad492.7
40Sudan48.8N/A
41Angola48.5-0.4
42Guinea47.6-5.7
43Djibouti46.7-9.3
44Equatorial Guinea451.3
45Zimbabwe445.8
46Eritrea42.2-0.5
47Republic of Congo 40-2.8
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