By Paul Biya, President of the Republic of Cameroon
A country of Central Africa with a land of 475,000 Square meters and a population estimated at 25 million inhabitants, bordering almost all the countries of Central Africa, and with about 1500 kilo-meter opening on the Atlantic Ocean, which allows to supply the CAR and Chad, locked land countries, Cameroon enjoys a strategic position in the sub-region. In addition to these geographical advantages, Cameroon has many assets making the country, a land of opportunities. These assets include: its relative political stability, the existence of legal-economic mechanisms in favour of investors, the abundance of natural resources as well as its cultural and ecological diversity.
Peace and political stability are key factors in any investment decision in a country. Thus, commonly called “Haven” of Peace in Central Africa, Cameroon presents itself as a country of peace in a particularly troubled region. Since gaining independence on January, 1st 1960, the country has had two presidents who had succeeded each other in a constitutional and democratic way, resulting in its stability.
However, as in in all civilized societies the prevailing climate of peace and stability in Cameroon has been put to strain in recent years, particularly because of tensions in the Far North region due to the sporadic activities of Boko Haram and in the North-West and South West regions caused by separatist groups. Many initiatives have been taken to defeat these threats. In this light, we can mention the organization of the Great National Dialogue in September 2019 which resulted in the creation of the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Committee in order to welcome and socially integrate repented former rebels.
Apart from these isolated situations, Cameroon is credited with a diversified and resilient economy. Overall, it internally enjoys a capital of peace and stability, recognized by internal observers who do not hesitate to present Cameroon as an asset to be preserved in a Central Africa weakened by recurrent political-military crises.
Legal-economic environment conducive to foreign and local investors
The Cameroon investment legal base is backed up by an investment charter provided by the Law No 2002 of April 19th 2020, supplemented by the Law No 2013-04 of April 18th 2013 on private investment in the Republic of Cameroun and Law No 2013/011 of December 16th 2013 governing economic zones in Cameroon. In addition, its status as Member State of the Treaty on the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA) strengthens this legal framework. There are also administrative and financial incentives under the General Tax Code and backed by the Investment Promotion Agency (IPA). On the one part, the Cameroonian state has set up Business Creation Formality Centers (BCFC), as well as a specific visa and a one-stop shop in all airports of Cameroon to guarantee the transferability of investor’s funds. On the other part, there is a derogation for partnership contracts in the specific sectors considered to be priority including VAT exemption for credits granted for investment in agriculture, fishing, animal husbandry, touristic and leisure sectors.
Furthermore, in 2009 the government adopted a long-term Strategic Vision for development that aims to make “Cameroon an emerging democratic country united in its diversity by 2035”. In its most recent version called 2020-2030 National Development Strategy (NDS30), several objectives have been targeted by the government, which intends to achieve them at the set deadline by relying on 4 pillars which are: Structural transformation of the national economy; welfare and human capital development; employment promotion and economic integration; governance, decentralization and strategic management of the state.
With this in mind, the industry, a real potential lever of growth policy is carried by the immensity of the wealth of the subsoil, sufficient hydrography, a skilled and abundant workforce, a wide opening on the see and a sub-regional market with about 3OO million consumers (including Nigeria). Following Cameroon’s signature of the Continental Free Trade Zone Agreement (CFZTA) on March 21st 2018 in Kigali, the country has resolutely positioned itself as a major economic partner in Central Africa. In this respect, the government has already prepared its national strategy for CFZTA.
Repository of Natural resources
Cameroon is full of abundant natural resources with 17 million hectares of suitable forests that make the country the second largest forest area in Africa. It has a wide range of mineral potential including reserves of gold, iron (about 550 million tons, 4th World reserve and 2nd in Africa), of bauxite, cobalt and nickel (the two estimated at more than one billion tons, one of the largest deposits in the world), of aluminum and rutile (about 3 million of tons, 2nd world deposit).
Concerning gas, in addition to petroleum, other reserves are estimated at 116 billion of m3. Thanks to a large hydraulic network, Cameroon has Africa’s second largest Hydroelectric potential: the current production is estimated at 4256GWH; finishing work in progress on the Lom Pangar, Memve’le, Natchigal and Mentchum dams aims at increasing this potential tenfold. Agricultural, food and export products (4th world producer of cocoa, first African producer of banana) contribute 27% to GDP and 21 % to export flows.
Cultural Diversity and ecotourism
Due to its remarkably contrasting landscape made up of high and low lands, its varied vegetation (including the forest, the savannah and dry regions), its tropical climate blending with the diversity of intertropical climates, its essentially young and dynamic population, Cameroon is rightly considered as “Africa in miniature”. This name, proudly embodied by the country of indomitable lions is illustrated by the great ecological and sociological diversity of Cameroon.
As a matter of fact, Cameroon is home of 240 national languages corresponding to 240 ethnic groups sub-divided in three large groups (Bantus, Semi-bantus and Sudanese). Moreover, the country’s bilingualism is an undeniable asset; French and English, the official languages are respectively spoken by 70% and 30% of the population. Cameroon is a secular state with two main religions (Christianism and Islam) alongside ancestral religions. Ecologically, the country has a diverse fauna with 107 mammals and 320 bird species scattered in and around the Dja reserve in the south, world heritage site by UNESCO; a rich flora with trees of all sizes and types.
It is also possible to practice various forms of tourism in Cameroon (Seaside tourism along the maritime coast, Safari photos in the savannahs and the northern sahel with national parks such as Waza, Bouba Djida with several animal species (gorillas, giraffes, lions, elephants, hippopotamus, etc.), cultural tourism, hiking in the mountains, ecotourism ( in protected areas and other reserves such as Korup in the south-west of the country) and business tourism (Conferences, exhibitions, fairs).On the contrary, these comparative advantages make of Cameroon a good investment risk.
It would be interesting for all home nationals and visit Cameroon in order to experience these generosities and enjoy the institutional provisions conducive to investment which constitutes the many advantages offered by Cameroon, Africa in miniature, land of opportunities, legendary welcoming and hospitality.