2013 Index of Economic Freedom

Cameroon

overall score52.3
world rank133
Rule of Law

Property Rights30.0

Freedom From Corruption25.0

Limited Government

Government Spending87.1

Fiscal Freedom69.3

Regulatory Efficiency

Business Freedom46.8

Labor Freedom55.5

Monetary Freedom69.9

Open Markets

Trade Freedom54.9

Investment Freedom35.0

Financial Freedom50.0

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Quick Facts
  • Population:
    • 20.9 million
  • GDP (PPP):
    • $47.3 billion
    • 4.1% growth
    • 3.0% 5-year compound annual growth
    • $2,257 per capita
  • Unemployment:
  • Inflation (CPI):
    • 2.9%
  • FDI Inflow:
    • $360.0 million
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Cameroon’s economic freedom score is 52.3, making its economy the 133rd freest in the 2013 Index. Its overall score is 0.5 point better than last year, reflecting notable gains in freedom from corruption and labor freedom. Cameroon is ranked 27th out of 46 countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, and its overall score is lower than the regional average.

The foundations of economic freedom are neither well established nor strongly protected in Cameroon. The judiciary is vulnerable to political interference and corruption, and the protection of property rights remains weak, undermining prospects for more significant and dynamic long-term economic development.

Economic performance is far below potential. Productive activity has become relatively diversified, with the services sector contributing about half of total domestic production, but the overall economic environment is dominated by the inefficient public sector. The risk of state interference in the private sector remains high in the country’s volatile political environment. Production and export of oil have declined, putting pressure on the government’s fiscal balance.

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Background

President Paul Biya has held office since 1982. In 2008, Biya’s supporters in parliament passed constitutional amendments granting the president immunity for acts committed while in office. In October 2011, Biya was re-elected with 78 percent of the vote in an election marred by numerous irregularities. Public frustration with poor governance has threatened to spark political unrest. Although the government claims to maintain strong civil-rights laws, charges of discrimination and abuse of human rights are abundant. In 2012, Cameroon tightened its border security with Nigeria as attacks by Boko Haram terrorists left 15 people dead along the border region. Cameroon’s economy, highly dependent on commodity exports and afflicted by serious mismanagement and an overvalued currency, has been seriously affected by the global economic slowdown.

Rule of LawView Methodology

Property Rights 30.0 Create a Graph using this measurement

Freedom From Corruption 25.0 Create a Graph using this measurement

Protection of property rights is weak due to pervasive corruption and an inefficient judicial system. The court system is vulnerable to political interference and long delays. Trademarks and copyrights are routinely violated, and software piracy is widespread. A former cabinet minister was charged in 2012 with embezzling millions in public funds and faces trial. His is the highest-profile indictment in an anti-corruption campaign launched in 2006.

Limited GovernmentView Methodology

The top income and corporate tax rates are 38.5 percent (35 percent plus a 10 percent surcharge). Other taxes include a value-added tax (VAT) and an inheritance tax. The overall tax burden equals 10.3 percent of GDP. Government spending is equivalent to 20.7 percent of total domestic output, and a budget deficit of 2.6 percent of GDP has pushed public debt to 12.9 percent of GDP.

Regulatory EfficiencyView Methodology

The process for establishing a company has become more streamlined, but paid-in minimum capital required to launch a business equals almost twice the level of average annual income. The formal labor market is not fully developed. Inflation has been modest. The prime minister has proposed removing the fuel subsidy that has put the country’s fiscal balance under severe strain.

Open MarketsView Methodology

The trade-weighted average tariff rate is quite high at 15 percent, and non-tariff barriers further increase the cost of trade. The investment regime is constrained by heavy bureaucracy and a lack of transparency. New investments may be subject to government approval. The cost of financing is high, and short-term loans dominate lending. The non-banking financial sector remains small, with modest capitalization of the stock market.

Country's Score Over Time

Bar Graph of Cameroon Economic Freedom Scores Over a Time Period

Country Comparisons

Bar Graphs comparing Cameroon to other economic country groups

Regional Ranking

rank country overall change
1Mauritius76.9-0.1
2Botswana70.61.0
3Rwanda64.1-0.8
4Cape Verde63.70.2
5Madagascar62-0.4
6South Africa61.8-0.9
7Ghana61.30.6
8Uganda61.1-0.8
9Namibia60.3-1.6
10Burkina Faso59.9-0.7
11The Gambia58.80.0
12Zambia58.70.4
13Tanzania57.90.9
14Gabon57.81.4
15Benin57.61.9
16Swaziland57.20.0
17Mali56.40.6
18Kenya55.9-1.6
19Senegal55.50.1
20Malawi55.3-1.1
21Nigeria55.1-1.2
22Mozambique 55-2.1
23Seychelles54.91.9
24Côte d'Ivoire 54.1-0.2
25Djibouti53.90.0
26Niger53.9-0.4
27Cameroon52.30.5
28Mauritania52.3-0.7
29Guinea51.20.4
30Guinea-Bissau51.11.0
31Central African Republic50.40.1
32Ethiopia49.4-2.6
33Liberia49.30.7
34Burundi490.9
35Togo48.80.5
36Sierra Leone48.3-0.8
37São Tomé and Príncipe 48-2.2
38Lesotho47.91.3
39Comoros47.51.8
40Angola47.30.6
41Chad45.20.4
42Republic of Congo 43.5-0.3
43Equatorial Guinea42.3-0.5
44Democratic Republic of Congo39.6-1.5
45Eritrea36.30.1
46Zimbabwe28.62.3
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