Manufacturing Statistics – Cameroun

Weaknesses of the Cameroonian Economy

From September 10th to the 23rd, experts from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) came to Cameroon to assess the country’s economic health. At the end of their trip, they offered recommendations they hope will be taken into account during the elaboration of the 2016 budget. Moreover, they emphasized the need for an accurate budget which not only includes realistic revenues and expenditures numbers but also leaves room for the financing of the government deficit.  

However, Cameroon exhibits various economic weaknesses that will need to be addressed sooner or later in order for it to reach its full potential.

In the press release (found here) they also mentioned that while Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth for the year 2015 is expected to be close to 6% “thanks to a strong showing by certain sectors, such as construction, public works, financial services, and the increase in oil production”, it will be stifled by the impact of decreasing oil prices and the fight against terrorism. This resiliency of the economy in an unfavorable environment shows that it has some solid basis upon which much can be done to develop the country. However, Cameroon exhibits various economic weaknesses that will need to be addressed sooner or later in order for it to reach its full potential.

Infrastructures

We, as a country, don’t have enough roads, bridges, airports and power plants:

  • The World Bank reported that in 2008, only 17.04% of our roads
  • 2 high-capacity airports
  • Cameroon’s railroad system consists of 1,008 km (626 mi) of 1.000-m narrow gauge railways.

This lack of basic infrastructures is hindering our development and limits how much we can do with the resources that we have. Without roads people and goods cannot move freely across the territory. The same goes for bridges and airports.

A limited amount of bridges keeps parts of the country landlocked, effectively shutting out some Cameroonians of the economic activity.

Same can be said of airports with the added dimension of hurting the tourism industry and limit investors’ access to Cameroon. Furthermore, development runs on power. Plants cannot operate if there is no electricity. Installing a backup power supply is costly and cuts into companies’ bottom lines.

Skilled workforce

The world is changing and the nature of economies as well. Skills that were needed even just fifteen years ago are becoming obsolete today. Systems are becoming automated and countries are less in need of skills rooted in physical labor and we don’t teach those in school what they need to learn in order to propel this country forward. I often say that our education system is not hands-on enough. There’s a lot of talking and writing but few get to apply what they learn into real word situations before graduation. In order to have an educated workforce Cameroun needs to know in which direction the country is heading. We need to seriously survey our resources and figure out what skills are best suited for what we would like to accomplish.

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Purchasing power

48% of Cameroon’s population lives under the poverty line set at 580.187 CFA Francs ($1.90) per day. As things presently stand, we cannot be a consumer-driven economy or in other words: we do not earn enough to buy what is being produced or imported. Economies thrive when citizens buy what is being sold, save what they earn in banks who in turn invest in revenue-generating projects. It’s a simple chain of behaviors that insures growth. Somehow in Cameroon part of that chain is broken. We either need to pass measures that will lower prices or incentivize businesses to match salaries to the cost of living.

We either need to pass measures that will lower prices or incentivize businesses to match salaries to the cost of living.

Those are few of the weaknesses of our economy. Now tell me, what else can be added to this list?

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