Cameroon is often called all of Africa in one country. This is due to its immense cultural and geographic diversity. It has a long coastline and accounts for 22% of Africa’s rainforest area.
Cameroon is also known for its openness and hospitality and is one of the only countries in Africa where both French and English are the official languages. Having averaged a little under 6% economic growth over the last three years, today the focus is very much on economic transformation.
Political and economic stability make it one of the most attractive countries in terms of foreign investment. The government has set out a clear action plan with its Emergence Plan 2035. Despite the downturn in commodity-rich economies, Africa still offers some of the best investment returns in the world and Cameroon is no exception.
The 2035 Plan intends to completely upgrade the country’s infrastructure with an emphasis on providing a climate that will encourage investment, entrepreneurship and job creation. As such, the government is seeking investors across a number of strategic areas, especially energy and transport.
There are commercial projects relating to the ports infrastructure. The government is seeking partners for the renovation of Douala airport.
There are a number of energy projects especially in hydro and there are ambitious plans for road and rail expansion. Cameroon now accounts for 54% of major infrastructure projects in Central Africa and of Africa’s top 10 hydro projects, three are in Cameroon. All this present opportunities for international groups.
Cameroon has emerged as an important hub for ICT and there is a thriving IT community developing apps, games and other services in the tech sector. But at the same time, one of the most promising sectors remains agriculture.
It has ample land resources with 13% of the country identified as arable land that can be exploited for agriculture. Both to serve the region as well as to export to the world. Cameroon accounts for 35% of the total GDP of the CEMAC region (Central Africa) and undertakes more than 70% of CEMAC intra-community agricultural trade.
At the Africa CEO Forum in Geneva, where a delegation of Cameroonian ministers were showcasing the country’s opportunities, a number of points were raised by investors. These included the need for regulatory reform to attract investors in the areas of transport (toll roads) and power, too often slow to come about.
There are opportunities that can be commercialized, and we have seen it elsewhere. There is a market and there is latent demand, the representatives from IFC, Africa 50 and other infrastructure funds stated. The ministers insisted the political will to see through reforms was there, and that many regulations were actually being revised and progressively going through parliament.
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