With growth of more than 4% in 2018, according to IMF forecasts, the Cameroonian economy is looking up. In 2017, it was the main driver of growth in the CEMAC bloc, contributing some 40% of regional GDP. Reports Dounia Ben Mohamed.
According to the IMF, growth in Cameroon should rebound to 4.2% in 2018, thanks to new natural gas production, stronger output by the manufacturing and food industries boosted by improved power sup-plies, and increased activity in the construction sector due to its hosting of the 2019 African Cup of Nations football championship. So the country can look forward to an upturn.
This observation is confirmed by the latest country risk assessment from the global credit insurer Coface: “Following two years of slowdown in growth, mainly due to declining oil and gas production, the economy is expected to pick up pace in 2018.” Noting the government’s work to consolidate the budget, Coface is counting on infrastructure, energy and the food business to stimulate Cameroon’s growth in 2018.
“A public investment programme will boost growth, especially in the construction and services sectors,” says the report. “The projects aimed at developing the country’s hydroelectric potential will be drivers of this growth… Manufacturing industries (textiles and cement production) are expected to perform well. Projects aimed at developing the agrifoods sector should also help boost agricultural production (wood, cocoa, cotton).”
At a time when many other members of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) have been slipping further into economic crisis, Cameroon’s economy has shown resilience. It is the most diversified economy in the region and, in consequence, the one least affected by the drop in commodity prices. Cameroon accounts for 40% of CEMAC GDP, making it the largest economy in the bloc. According to a report by the African Development Bank (AfDB) published in March 2018, a recovery in regional growth is expected, with an average of 2.4% in 2018 and 3.4% in 2019.
Signs of vitality
The decision last October by CEMAC heads of state to transfer the headquarters of the Central African Securities Exchange (BVMAC) from Libreville in Republic of Congo to Douala in Cameroon reflects the vitality of the country’s economy. Douala has thus confirmed its position as the regional economic hub.
In a similar vein, on 4 April the city hosted the first edition of the International Investors’ Forum, jointly organised by the Chamber of Commerce of Cameroon and the China-Africa Cham-ber of Commerce. The conference was a confirmation of the interest shown by China in reinforcing cooperation with Cameroon, where it is committed to a number of major projects (the construction of the Port of Kribi, various hydro-electric dams, hospitals, etc). The visit of President Paul Biya in March to China opened the way to more Chinese investment in Cameroon.
Meanwhile, the country continues to benefit from the support of the IMF. On 26 June 2017 the lender approved an enlarged credit facility in a package worth $683.5m in support of the efforts made by the country to “restore external and fiscal sustainability and lay the foundations for sustainable, inclusive and private sector-led growth.”