Cameroon - Future trends

Cameroon's economic growth is expected to continue in the near future, but several long-term problems remain. During 2000-2004, Cameroon is expected to receive a boost from the Chad-Cameroon Oil Production and Pipeline project. The country remains reliant on a limited number of export commodities and needs to diversify its economy and develop new export industries in order to ensure its long-term economic security. Corruption and lack of an independent and effective judiciary remain pervasive problems that have barely been tackled, despite some high-profile government campaigns aimed at improving the situation. Future levels of foreign investment may well depend on the success of these initiatives. Further short-term growth will make it easier for Cameroon to reform its investment climate and continue a program of economic liberalization.

The Chad-Cameroon Oil Production and Pipeline project is the largest infrastructure project in sub-Saharan Africa. A consortium led by Exxon will invest US$3.7 billion to build production facilities in southern Chad and a pipeline to transport oil to the Cameroonian port of Kribi. Nearly half of this investment will go to Cameroon, where most of the pipeline will be installed. The construction and transportation sectors will be the primary short-term beneficiaries of this project. Due in large part to this project, the construction sector already registered growth of over 75 percent in 2000, and the project will also impact positively on financial services and other sectors.

Cameroon remains vulnerable to falls in commodity prices, especially for oil. In addition, the valuable exports of petroleum and lumber are threatened as these resources gradually run out. Discovery of additional petroleum reserves may offset falling production levels from current oil fields, but lumber resources will be far more difficult to replace. Cameroon will need to establish more effective institutions for managing its forests and other natural resources. In the long term, Cameroon must diversify its economy and reduce its dependency on oil and agricultural products.

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