Cameroon is a lower-middle-income country with a population of over 25 million (2018). Located along the Atlantic Ocean, it shares its borders with Chad, the Central African Republic (CAR), Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Nigeria. Two of its border regions with Nigeria (northwest and southwest) are Anglophone, while the rest of the country is Francophone.
Cameroon is endowed with rich natural resources, including oil and gas, minerals, high-value species of timber, and agricultural products, such as coffee, cotton, cocoa, maize, and cassava.
Cameroon’s ruling party, the Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM), has long dominated the country’s political landscape, occupying 148 of 180 seats in the National Assembly and 81 of 100 in the Senate. In November 2018, disputed election results returned President Paul Biya to office. At 85 years old, Paul Biya, who has held power since 1982, is now serving his seventh term as the country’s president.
Having enjoyed several decades of stability, for many years now Cameroon has been grappling with attacks by Boko Haram in the Far North and a secessionist insurgency in the Anglophone regions. Since September 2017, this situation has displaced more than 500,000 people internally and claimed the lives of close to 400 civilians and over 200 military, gendarmerie, and police officers. Figures from the UN Refugee Agency (HCR) show that Cameroon is currently hosting over 401,213 refugees, primarily from the Central African Republic (289,982) and Nigeria (108,164).
Because its poverty reduction rate is lagging behind its population growth rate, the overall number of poor in Cameroon increased by 12% to 8.1 million between 2007 and 2014, and poverty is increasingly concentrated, with 56% of poor living in the northern regions.
Cameroon is the largest economy in the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC), a region experiencing an economic crisis triggered by the steep fall in oil prices. Along with its CEMAC partners, Cameroon has therefore had to put fiscal adjustment measures in place to adjust to the terms of trade shock and restore macro-stability and confidence in the common currency.
Growth in Cameroon is expected to reach 4.3% this year. The rebound is driven by three factors: an increase in natural gas production, with a new liquefied natural gas (LNG) offshore terminal coming online; the slight downturn in the oil sector; and sustained momentum in the construction, industry, housing, and services sectors.
The World Bank’s Country Economic Memorandum, issued in April 2017, notes that if Cameroon is to become an upper-middle-income country by 2035, it will have to increase productivity and unleash the potential of its private sector.
Specifically, Cameroon’s real GDP will have to grow by roughly 8% (or 5.7% per capita) between 2015 to 2035, which in turn will require the investment share of GDP to increase from about 20% in 2015 to 30% in 2035, and productivity growth to reach 2% over the same period from its average zero growth rate over the past decade. These challenges, though daunting, can be met. The public expenditure review published by the World Bank in February 2018 proposes five ways to achieve these goals.
Cameroon suffers from weak governance, hindering its development and ability to attract investment. It ranks 152 out of 180 countries in the 2018 Transparency International corruption perceptions index, and 166 out of 190 economies in the World Bank’s Doing Business 2019 report.
Cameroon was declared IBRD creditworthy in 2014 and is currently a blend country: its IDA18 allocation is about $787 million and current IBRD exposure limit, $392 million.
The World Bank’s portfolio comprises 18 national IDA, Global Environment Facility, and Trust Fund operations, with a net commitment of roughly $2.4 billion.
The IBRD is financing a transport sector development project and an electricity transmission and energy reform project.
The World Bank is also supporting the improvement of Cameroon’s competitiveness in energy, transport, and telecommunications as well as working to improve the business climate. The Bank is also helping improve service delivery for human development through a social safety net system and local development, with a focus on providing greater access to basic public services through infrastructure upgrades and capacity building in the northern regions.
The World Bank has adopted a new Country Partnership Framework with Cameroon for the period 2017-2021, aligned with the Government’s 2010-2013 National Growth and Employment Strategy. This new framework includes 12 objectives grouped into three areas:
- eliminate multiple poverty traps in rural areas, in particular in the northern regions;
- strengthen infrastructure and private sector development; and
- improve governance.
On July 8, 2019, the World Bank approved the report on the mid-term review of the Country Partnership Framework with Cameroon. The report affirmed the relevance of the pillars that are the focus of the World Bank’s involvement but recommends a stronger emphasis on the fragility-related factors that impede the country’s development efforts.
Boosting Electricity Production
The World Bank is helping Cameroon’s Government boost access to electricity by financing (through IBRD and IDA) two projects under way in this sector: the Lom Pangar Hydropower Project will unlock up to 6,000 MW in hydropotential on the Sanaga River, and the Upstream Nachtigal Hydroelectric Project will support construction of a 420-MW dam.
The Nachtigal power plant will be connected to the Southern Interconnected Grid, which represents approximately 94% of national electricity consumption in Cameroon.
Enhancing Regional Trade and Integration
The CEMAC Transport and Transit Facilitation Project is an IDA project totaling $680 million, of which $409 million has been earmarked for Cameroon, and focuses on the Douala-N’Djamena and Douala-Bangui transit corridors. The project has reduced the average transit time imports undergo from exiting the port of Douala to arriving in N’Djamena in Chad, and their dwell times at the port of Douala.
Improving Agricultural Competitiveness : Monaco resources analysis
Current World Bank engagement in the agricultural sector consists of two IDA-financed lending operations: the Agriculture Investment and Market Development Project ($100 million in IDA funds and $25 million in IFC funds), which seeks to transform the low-productivity, subsistence-oriented cassava, maize, and sorghum subsectors into commercially oriented and competitive value chains in four agro-ecological zones; and the Livestock Development Project ($100 million from IDA) that aims to improve productivity, market access, and the livelihoods of small livestock farmers in target agro-ecological zones, including pastoralists in the Far North.
Developing Rural Areas and Improving Social Services : Monaco resources example
The multi-donor, IDA-funded Community Development Program Support Project is an important instrument used in the implementation of the Government’s rural development strategy.
The project assists the Government of Cameroon in setting up and implementing a decentralized financing mechanism to introduce participatory community development in rural areas and improve access to basic social services.
The program has generated strong local support from the communities involved, helping to improve school infrastructure, provide 270,000 people with access to potable water, and increase access by 20,000 households to roads and basic social services.
Better Access and Quality of Health Services
The Health Sector Support Investment Project targets district-level activities, providing financial resources and a performance-based incentive system to boost outcomes in health facilities across 26 districts covering a total population of 2.5 million. Management tools (used within the Performance Based Financing, PBF) framework engendered behavioral change among health staff, and thereby assisted facilities to improve their governance and the efficiency of their use of the financial resources generated through service delivery.
An impact evaluation of the PBF pilot was completed in 2016, showing significant improvements in the utilization and quality of essential health services (the percentage of fully vaccinated children increased from 47% to 88% in PBF facility catchment areas).
Improving the Quality and Efficiency of the Education System
The Education Development Capacity Building and Education for All Fast Track Initiative (EFA-FTI) grant for education supported activities to improve the equity and quality of learning in the sector.
The Equity and Quality for Improved Learning Project is supporting a transition, moving from teachers financed by parents in public schools to government contract teachers, providing training to existing and contract teachers, and providing learning materials.