Sekondi Accra

Presidential elections are scheduled for 2011 however, the government is keeping the event on a low profile. Why? Because the same candidates that have been contesting elections in Cameroon since 1990 will be running again in 2011. President Paul Biya of the presiding Reassemblement Democratique du Pueple Camerounais (RDPC), John Fru Ndi of the Social Democratic Front (SDF), Adamou Ndam Njoya of the Cameroon Democratic Union (CDU) and Bello Bouba Maigari of the Union Nationale pour la Democratie et le Progres.

This election would appear to be the last chance for 69-year old Fru Ndi's to challenge Biya and his chances for victory are not good because of a party divided along generational and political ideologies. Fru Ndi has lost his political fervor and this has left his party as to how to explain that they are a viable alternative to the sitting government. Ndi promised to disclose his assets publically in order to pressure ruling party officials to do likewise, but then he reneged on the idea. Why?

Many of the opposition parties have, including John Fru Ndi's SDF and Adamou Ndam Njoya's CDU, have jointly condemned Elecam, the election commission created by President Biya's government and staffed by people loyal to the ruling RDPC. In October 2010, the SDF filed suit at the Supreme Court to challenge the legality of Elecam's activities and to call for the invalidation of the electorial registration process which began in August 2010. Opposition members noted that the presidential decree required to establish Elecam was never authenticated.

Even though the 2011 polls are expected to be fraught with tension, it is hoped that they will not exhibit the violent protests that accompanied the 2008 elections. President Biya has taken the extraordinary measure of dismissing several notable security administrators in August 2010. The dismissals followed an attack on the headquarters of the national television station in Yaounde and several burglaries of ministerial offices in July 2010. The government tightly controls the broadcast media. State-run CRTV operates national TV and radio networks and provincial radio stations.

Street crime has been increasing in Bamenda and Douala. Price increases and scarcities of primary goods have attracted the attention of the government as the 2011 elections surface. Near the end of 2010, residents of major urban populations began complaining of the about the dwindling volumes of cooking gas, sugar and seafood from popular marketplaces. These shortages have led to skyrocketing prices for commodities when they do become available. For instance, the price of fish has doubled from 600 CFA francs ($1.20) per kg to 1,200 CFA france ($2.40). The government organized shipments of sugar in October 2010 in order to shore up demand while water shortages in major cities such as Yaounde added to public anxieties.

On the diplomatic scene, the passing of Gabonese President Omar Bongo Ondimba in 2009 terminated the extended cold war between Cameroon and Gabon. Both President Biya and Ondimba wanted to be leaders of the Central African subregion. However, now that Ondimba is deceased, Biya is the undisputed elder stateman in Central Africa and has raised his profile by attending more regional summits. In August 2010, President Biya along with Ondimba's successor, President Ali Ben Bongo Ondimba celebrated Gabon's 50th anniversary of independence. Nevertheless all is not completely well in the region. President Biya's relationship with Equatorial Guinea's President is strained because of ongoing maritime border disputes which have delayed development of a large oil field on Cameroonian territory.

On the economic front, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has stated that Cameroon's growth performance remained constrained by poor governance and a restricted business environment along with obsticles to trade to say nothing of its weak infrastructure. Cameroon's real GDP growth has been less than sub-Saharan African averages for the past several years, and the government predicts it will remain relatively low, at 2.6% to 2.9% in 2010/11. The economy's biggest liabilty is its dependency on oil and commodities exports. Even though the government has initiated plans to diversify exports, they are largely restricted to mining projects.

The natural gas and oil sectors are by far Cameroon's most lucrative industries. The country possesses over 500bn cubic meters of gas reserves and in October 2010, France's GDF Suez announced that it was initiating studies for a $5 billion dollar investment in a liquified to natural gas plant. However, oil production is sputtering. National outlays have decreased more than 60% since the 1980's and the government states that it will decrease to 55,000 barrels per day (bdp) in 2011 before new iniatives lead to greater production.

The authorities are also targeting the natural gas sector in order to increase domestic electricity production for a national electrification program which it hopes will reduce the costs of doing business. The overall plan is to spend over $12bn by 2020 to increase electricity production from 1000 megawatts (MW) to 3,000MW. The most ambitious project is the 51MW Lom Pangar dam because it will increase the capacity of existing dams and facilitate the construction of new ones. Construction began in November 2010 and a portion of its new power will energize the national grid while the rest will go to an expansion of Rio Tinto's Alucam aluminium processor. Sinohydro has started construction on the Memve'ele hydropower station, which will cost an estimated $800m and produce 200MW, while the 930MW dam at Song Mbengue and 300MW plant at Nachtigal depend on completion of LomPangar. There are also major improvements and renovations of Cameroon's transportation networks. Two South Korean companies, Chunsuk and Korpec, are slated to complete work on rail networks in 2011, with addional construction underwritten by other South Korean companies in the very near future. The overall view is a master plan that will connect mines to ports and exploit opportunities in transit trade with Cameroon's neighboring countries which are landlocked.

Cameroon's agricultural sector is notable and authorities have increased spending on farming supplies (ie., equipment, fertilizers, pesticides, etc.). However, it lacks the investment needed to make substantial contributions to its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). However, all of that may be about to change because in September 2010, the government announced an agreement with the Brazilian government to cultivate genetically modified cocoa which is estimated to increase yields from 200,00 tons in 2010 to 400,000 tons in 2015.

A lingering concern is the vitality of Cameroon's (Yaounde) banking system. International observers such as Bretton Woods are concerned that the sector is extremely weak and that credit too concentrated. Nevertheless, the arrival of new competitors should change the financial landscape. Gabon's leading bank, BGFI, established operations in Cameronn in mid-2010 and it is anticipated that additional banks from various countries will do so shortly. The challenge that Cameroonian authorities face is similar to that of Nigeria: to get the banking sector to change its preference for financing the oil sector while directing credit to the private sector which has seen annual increases in credit of about 7% over the past two years.


Official Data


Back to Top
Cameroon maintains an embassy in the United States at 1700 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20007 (tel.: 202-265-8790).
Valid XHTML 1.0 Strict