Political situation No strong focus on sustainable development

Officially, Cameroon is a multi-party democracy. However, de facto the country has been governed by the same party since the 1960s, and that party plays a dominating role at all political levels.

City view of Yaoundé, capital of Cameroon

City view of Yaoundé, capital of Cameroon

City view of Yaoundé, capital of Cameroon

The opposition has accused the government of manipulating the elections. It boycotted most of the parliamentary, regional and local elections held in 2020.

President Paul Biya has been in office since 1982. In October 2018, at age 85, he was re-elected for another seven-year term. The political and administrative system are characterised by an authoritarian style of government that focuses on keeping the government in power, clientelism, and corruption. The Corruption Perceptions Index 2021 published by the non-governmental organisation Transparency International ranked Cameroon 144th out of the 180 countries assessed.

Civil society activities are hampered by government repression – for example bans on rallies, the blocking of websites, and media censorship.

Ambitious goal, weak delivery

Overall, Cameroon's government is not demonstrating a strong focus on development. While its Vision 2035 lays down the ambitious goal of becoming an emerging economy by 2035, and the government has formally embraced the 2030 Agenda, there is no evidence of a holistic policy approach that would address global development goals such as sustainability, environmental protection and social protection.

Domestic crisis

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View of Yaounde, capital of Cameroon

At present, Cameroon is going through a deep domestic crisis. Conflicts in the English-speaking Northwest and Southwest Regions and in the Far North Region are posing a threat to the country's stability. According to United Nations data, about one million people have been internally displaced by the conflicts. 4.4 million of the country's approximately 27 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.

In the English-speaking provinces, separatist groups are fighting for a greater say in decision-making and for the areas to form an independent country, the “Republic of Ambazonia”.

While the government under President Biya conducted a “national dialogue” in 2019, took a few significant initial steps towards decentralisation and announced the reconstruction of infrastructure, Biya has rejected the idea of returning to a federal system that would give far more decision-making powers to the regions. He continues to pursue a military solution to the conflict.

The humanitarian situation in the English-speaking regions has deteriorated significantly in the past few years. Children and youth are particularly affected. Teachers and pupils are frequently attacked, abducted, threatened or killed by armed groups. As a result, two in three schools in the English-speaking regions remained closed in 2021, affecting more than 700,000 students.

Terrorism in the North

In the Far North Region, too, the security situation has deteriorated. Even though Cameroon formed a multinational force (Multinational Joint Task Force, MNJTF) together with Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Benin in order to fight the Boko Haram Islamist group, the number of terrorist attacks on Cameroonian territory has increased significantly since the end of 2019.