Major Projects to Boost Employment in 2010: In 2009, the Cameroon Economy Suffered from the Fallout of the Global Economic Crisis, but a New Government Investment Programme for the Private Sector Has Been Announced to Boost the Economy

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Even though the country's financial sector was, not severely impacted, Cameroon's export sectors--primarily wood, aluminium, rubber and cotton--all suffered the repercussions of a slowing global economy, lower commodity prices, declining foreign investment inflows and the international credit crunch in 2009. The consequence for the economy has been a reduction in growth last year even more severe than that experienced in 2008, when the effects of the crisis were beginning to be felt. Yet Cameroon's prospects are positive, as the country has the advantage of offshore oil reserves which provide an economic fallback.

Cameroon is still struggling to contend with the challenge of instituting efficient economic governance and fighting corruption, but real progress has been made as the government has initiated a clean-up operation that has led to the arrest of many officials responsible for the misappropriation of state funds.

A November 2009 IMF report states that in the context of a steady decline in oil production, Cameroon's economic growth--driven by the non-oil sector--"has been revised for 2009-10 to 2.5% (and approximately 3.2% growth for the non-oil sector)". It could gradually reach 4.2% by 2012, assuming measures such as "an increase in capital expenditures and intensified structural reforms of the business climate, the introduction of good public infrastructure and more efficient management of public finances", are deployed. In this spirit, the government has developed a strategy document on employment and growth that should be enacted this year.

Boosting investment

With a focus on economic growth rather than a social agenda, the private sector has, as a priority, been targeted for investment. Funding is to be concentrated on sectors that have the potential to stimulate investment. The energy sector, which has suffered a decrease in oil production, will receive investment of around CFA5,853bn over the next decade to meet the energy needs of the country and some of its regional neighbours.

In his New Year message, President Biya, while emphasising the impact of the crisis on economic growth, has listed some of the major projects that will be launched during the year: i.e. the hydroelectric dam at Lom Pangar; the deep-water port at Kribi; the Memve'ele dam; a gas-powered generating station at Kribi; a mini power plant in Mekin on the River Dja; and the rehabilitation and extension of water infrastructure in major cities such as the capital, Yaounde, and the country's commercial centre, Douala. …