CAPE TOWN – Cameroon, known as “Africa in miniature”, is a country that is sandwiched between Central Africa and West Africa and bordered by six countries, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Congo, Central African Republic, Chad and Nigeria.
Historically and geographically, the country is in West Africa, although it is not a member state of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas). It’s the home of the world’s largest frog, the goliath frog, which grows up to 34cm in length and weighing up to 3.3kg.
Not only that, but it’s also the home of the tallest mountain in West Africa, Mount Cameroon, and the famous volcano, locally known as Mount Faka or the Chariot of Gods – both of which are the country’s main tourist attractions. It’s also a home of Samuel Eto'o, one of the greatest African footballers and best strikers in the world, who won the African Player of the Year award four times.
After World War I, the country was divided into two zones; one administered by the British (Northern and Southern Cameroon) and the other part by France (French Cameroon).
In 1960, French Cameroon gained independence, with Ahmadou Ahidjo as president. The next year Southern Cameroon joined in to form the Republic of Cameroon while Northern Cameroon chose to join Nigeria. After 20 years Ahidjo handed over power to the then prime minister Paul Biya, who was sworn-in on November, 6, 1982.
Biya, 86, is still the president of Cameroon, making him the second-longest current serving Africa president after Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea, with 37 years in power.
Cameroon is endowed with rich natural resources, including oil and gas, minerals, high-value species of timber as well as agricultural products such as coffee, cotton, cocoa, maize and cassava.
It has the most diversified economy in central Africa, with the primary sectors contributing highly to the domestic economic activities.
It’s the fifth-largest producer of cocoa in the world and one of the largest producers of crude oil in sub-Saharan Africa. (World Bank 2019).
Its major exports are crude oil (contributing 40 percent of total export), timber, cocoa, bananas and coffee.
Its top imports are refined petroleum, rice, crude petroleum, special purpose ships and packaged medicaments.
On the Neil Economic Scale, the price of a can of coke is 514 CFA (R13) and the price of a litre of petrol is 630 CFA (R15.53).
The average Inflation rate is estimated at 2.12 percent.
The country’s GDP rose to $38.05 billion (R555.7bn) last year, an increase of 10.25 percent on the previous year. The growth was mainly due to an increase in gas production; a slower contraction in the oil sector; continued dynamism in construction, processing and logging sectors as well as a robust service sector (MPO 2019).
To reach economic emergence by 2035 and based on the Strategic Document for Growth and Employment (2010 to 2020), a 10-year strategy for the Vision 2035, the government has implemented a substantial investment programme to accelerate growth, create decent jobs and reduce poverty (AEO, 2019).
However, the conflict between the English minority and Cameroon’s Anglophone crisis remains detrimental to the development and growth of the country, harming the young population, as thousands have been either displaced or killed by the conflict and are unable to attend school as a result.
Neil de Beer is the president of the IFA and advises numerous African states on economic development. www.ifa.africa or [email protected]