From 1960 until the mid-1980s, Cameroon was financially
successful. According to
countryaah, this was due, among other things, to an active
agricultural policy, with the aim of broadening production
and achieving self-sufficiency in food, as well as the
development of the oil industry from the late 1970s. Falling
oil prices around 1986 led to a decline.
State interventions to stop the economic decline have led
to the introduction of an adjustment program, which included
extensive public sector cuts, a 50 percent devaluation and
extensive privatization work.
Since 1994, the country has experienced positive growth.
Newly discovered oil sources, increased productivity in
agriculture and government investments in infrastructure
have meant that growth has averaged five per cent during the
Traditionally, Cameroon has had a surplus in the trade
balance, mainly due to oil exports, but due to the fall in
prices of other important export goods (cocoa, coffee and
cotton), the trade balance since 2009 has shown a deficit.
Agriculture, together with the oil industry, is the
backbone of Cameroon's economy. Along with forestry and
fishing, the agricultural industry accounted for 40 percent
of the country's export revenue. Agriculture has been a
priority sector, and Cameroon's oil revenues have been
partially used to subsidize it. With the exception of rubber
and palm oil production, which is carried out in plantation
form, agriculture is dominated by small farmers. Food
independence has increased faster than population growth
during independence, and Cameroon is largely self-sufficient
in terms of food.
The main food crops are millet, sorghum, corn and rice.
Cocoa and coffee, which are grown in the south and west, as
well as cotton, are grown in the northern parts of the
country. Palm oil, rubber and bananas are also exported. An
important element of the sector is also livestock
Natural resources and energy
Oil was discovered on the continental shelf near the
border with Nigeria in 1976, and extraction began in 1977.
In 2013, production was estimated at 63,000 barrels per day,
and the oil accounted for about 50 percent of the country's
export revenue. The main production takes place in the Niger
Delta. The lack of new finds and a high price in comparison
with competing countries has caused production to fall in
recent years; the oil is expected to end within ten years if
no new sources are opened. In 2003, a 1,000 km long pipeline
from the oil fields in Chad to the port city of Kribi was
completed. The country also has known deposits of bauxite,
iron ore and uranium. Of these, only the bauxite deposits
have been exploited. at Minim-Martap and Ngaouandéré.
About 50 percent of Cameroon is wooded, but harvesting is
only allowed on half of this area. Intensive forestry is
conducted in an area of approximately 500,000 ha in
southern Cameroon. The forest industry has good prospects
for expansion if the very difficult transport problems are
Cameroon's fishing is little developed. Opportunities to
develop fisheries have been limited due to fishing border
disputes with neighboring countries and drought affecting
80 per cent of Cameroon's total energy needs are covered
by water energy. The power plants at Edéa and Song-Loulu
supply the country's western parts, including Yaoundé,
Douala and Edéa, with electricity. The power plant at Logda
mainly supplies the northern parts. The country's heavy
industry is the main consumer.
Cameroon's industrial sector is dominated by the
processing of domestic and imported raw materials and the
composition of imported components. The largest plant is the
aluminum smelter at Edéa, which receives its raw material
In order to better integrate the industry with the rest
of the economy, investments have been made in the pulp and
paper industry, tire production, oil refining and tanning.
The industrial industry consists of a few large factories
and a large number of small units; medium-sized factories
are almost completely missing.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Cameroon's trade deficit
increased. Oil revenues reversed the trend and produced a
large trade surplus during the early 1980s. Falling oil
prices after 1985/86 led to the trade balance in the 1990s
showing only a very small surplus; in some years it has also
shown deficits, during the 00s it has also shown deficits
for several years.
The most important export products are oil, timber and
cocoa, aluminum and coffee. Imports are dominated by
transport and machinery and food. The Netherlands, France
and China are Cameroon's most important export markets,
while important trading partners for imports are China,
France and Thailand.
Tourism and gastronomy
Cameroon was visited by 817,000 tourists in 2012, an
increase of 200,000 from the previous year. However, tourism
is still poorly developed and the country is suffering from
poor infrastructure as well as accusations of corruption and
high crime. What mainly attracts visitors are the nature
experiences and the rich wildlife, including in the
country's national parks, as well as the many sandy beaches.
Almost 95 per cent of the calorie intake in the country
comes from vegetables, mainly manioc, corn, sweet potatoes,
rice, bananas, millet and sorghum. The traditional pot of
canarin contains fresh or dried fish. The "national
soup " nkui is cooked on okra, corn husks
and cornmeal. Other special dishes include baptism,
sautéed banana croquettes, perhaps in combination with snake
stew. Beef, which is relatively uncommon, is eaten in ragues
with couscous, which in Cameroon is cooked by cornmeal.