Situation and cooperation

View of Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon

Please note: Some of the information in this article is no longer up to date. The article is currently being revised.

It is important for the fragile region of Central Africa that Cameroon remain economically strong and politically stable. The country can act as a driver of progress for its neighbours and for regional organisations. The Government of Cameroon is striving to live up to this role. It has set itself the ambitious goal of achieving the status of emerging economy by 2035. In order to improve the living conditions of the people, the government wants to put the focus in the coming years on boosting economic growth and creating jobs.

However, Cameroon will continue to require a lot of support along the way, as more than one third of the people are still below the national poverty line and nearly ten per cent are undernourished. Life expectancy is 56 years.

Although the official unemployment rate is relatively low at 4.3 per cent, about two thirds of the workforce can be considered underemployed. They work primarily in subsistence agriculture or as micro-entrepreneurs in the informal sector.

Development progress has been made, above all, on school enrolment and in the area of drinking water supply. Infant and child mortality is declining. However, maternal mortality is still very high, and there has been very little progress on sanitation in recent years.

Security situation and refugee crisis

Cameroon's security is under threat due to the unstable situation in its neighbouring countries Nigeria and Central African Republic. Together with Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Benin, Cameroon is part of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) which is fighting the terrorist group Boko Haram in Nigeria. In response, the terrorists have repeatedly carried out retaliation strikes on Cameroonian territory.

Cameroon is very active in terms of humanitarian efforts. According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Cameroon is hosting about 249,000 refugees from the Central African Republic and about 89,000 refugees from Nigeria. In addition, there are about 241,000 internally displaced persons who were displaced by Boko Haram attacks in northern Cameroon (data from March 2018).

The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has so far provided about 25 million euros to help Cameroon host the displaced people and meet their needs. In these support programmes, there is a special focus on ensuring that internally displaced persons and local communities, too, will benefit from the assistance.


Veneer production in Douala/Cameroon

In 2014 and 2015, Cameroon's economy grew at a rate of about six per cent. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects that the rates for 2016 and 2017 will be below five per cent. In view of the rate of population growth, this is not enough to reduce poverty on a sustained basis, give young people better prospects and close the income gap between different regions of the country.

The level of industrialization in Cameroon is low. A cumbersome administrative system, the lack of legal certainty, inadequate infrastructure and a lack of skilled workers act as disincentives for potential investors. Widespread corruption is another challenge. While the government has stated that it wants to fight corruption, Cameroon only managed to achieve 130th place (out of 168 countries) in the 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index drawn up by the non-governmental organisation Transparency International.

As a member of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS/CEEAC) and the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC), Cameroon is supporting regional integration efforts.

Development potential

Road near Mondoni/Cameroon

The central and southern regions of Cameroon in particular offer ideal conditions for growing various kinds of fruit. Cameroon also has great potential for hydropower generation, and a range of mineral resources including bauxite, cobalt, nickel, oil and diamonds. The implementation of infrastructure programmes is also boosting Cameroon's economy. Farmers are benefiting from training measures and easier access to funding. The production of cocoa, coffee, cotton and rice has already increased.

In 2014, an Interim Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) entered into force between the European Union and Cameroon. On the basis of that Agreement, the EU grants Cameroon full free market access. The Agreement lays down that Cameroon should open its market for European exports by 2023. The accompanying Aid by Trade measures are an important element of the EPA process. The EU is providing Cameroon with support to help it improve the productivity and competitiveness of its industry. The bilateral EPA is viewed as a step towards a regional EPA between the Central African region and the EU. The other countries in the region are free to join the Agreement.

Priority areas of cooperation

Germany is one of Cameroon's most important donors in development cooperation. At the government negotiations in June 2016, Germany made a new commitment of 100.5 million euros for bilateral cooperation. Of this, 39.5 million euros was allocated to Financial cooperation and 61 million to Technical Cooperation. In the course of 2016, an additional commitment was made for 25 million euros (in Financial Cooperation funding), bringing the total commitment for 2016 to 125.5 million euros.

The following priority areas have been agreed with the Cameroonian government:

  • Protection and sustainable use of natural resources
  • Good governance
  • Rural development

Germany also supports Cameroon's efforts to deal with the refugee crisis (see above) and provides assistance in the health sector.

Moreover, Cameroon benefits from a number of regional programmes. For example, Germany supports the Central African Forests Commission (COMIFAC) in its efforts to foster sustainable forest management. Together with the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC), Germany is carrying out projects in areas such as extractive resource governance and EITI, and health/HIV/AIDS.

Protection and sustainable use of natural resources

View across a tea plantation to Mount Cameroon

Cameroon's extensive and species-rich forests are of global importance for biodiversity and the climate. They are also an important source of food and income for local people. Apart from oil and cocoa, timber is Cameroon's most important export product.

However, the forests are increasingly coming under threat through excessive use. Mining and agricultural activities are encroaching more and more on the forests. Large areas of forest are lost to illegal logging. Biodiversity is at risk as a result of unsustainable forest use and poaching.

Tropical forest protection is thus one priority area of German development cooperation with Cameroon. To this end, Germany is assisting the Cameroonian government with the implementation of its forest and environment programme. Support includes delivering advisory services on the further development and implementation of the government's forestry policy, sustainable forest management, and protected area management.

In 2011, Cameroon signed a voluntary partnership agreement with the European Union to fight illegal logging. The agreement envisages the establishment of a documentation and certification system for tropical timber. Preferential market access to the EU will only be granted for Cameroonian timber that can be demonstrated to have come from legal logging. During the negotiation phase, Germany advised Cameroon's government and is now supporting its efforts to implement the agreement.

Good governance

Street scene in Mondoni/Cameroon

At the national level, Germany is assisting the Government of Cameroon in the field of public financial management. The two sides are planning to make tax revenue and tax administration a focus of these efforts in the future. In order to increase tax revenue, efforts are under way to identify potential sources of revenue. A comprehensive analysis of the organizational structure of the tax administration system is under way in order to make the system more efficient and introduce an appropriate IT system.

At the municipal level, Germany is working with selected medium-sized cities to help them play their important role as regional economic hubs and service centres. KfW Development Bank is providing money to these cities via a Cameroonian investment fund, FEICOM (Special Council Support Fund for Mutual Assistance), to finance social and economic infrastructure projects. This includes preschools, schools, hospitals, roads and markets.

The two sides also worked together on a 12-year decentralisation project which ended in late 2015. At present, a new municipal development project is being prepared.

Rural development

In the area of rural development, the two sides' cooperation focuses on food security and adaptation to climate change.

Activities are going to concentrate on the less developed regions in northern Cameroon. Priority will be given to training, improved farming and production methods, the reduction of post-harvest losses, and water management.

As part of the BMZ's special 'One World – No Hunger' initiative, a Green Innovation Centre is being set up in Cameroon. The Centre will help disseminate innovations for the value chains of cocoa, potatoes and poultry, and it will provide training for farmers. There is also a triangular cooperation project involving Germany, Cameroon and Israel. It will broaden the scope of these activities to include the mango and fruit tree value chain.

The purpose of the special initiative is to increase smallholder incomes, create jobs and improve the regional availability of food. Efforts are being carried out in close cooperation with partners from civil society, academia and the private sector.

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