Industry accounted for 31% of GDP in 2001. Considerable advances in industrial development have been made in recent years, mostly in the south. Cameroon's first oil refinery opened at Limbé in May 1981. Since then, oil production has gained paramount importance for the country. Cameroon is sub-Saharan Africa's fifth largest oil producer. The government, once a large shareholder in many industries, including aluminum, wood pulp, and oil refining, now advocates privatization. The government reported an annual growth of 8.2% in the manufacturing sector for 1998. Exports of logs and rubber were down 50% in 1998, partly because of tightening logging restrictions. There is a rubber factory in the Dizangué region, and about 20 large sawmills and five plywood factories and lumber mills.
The first industrial establishment not connected with agriculture processing and forestry was the Cameroonian Aluminum Refining Co. In 1957, the company opened at Edéa, importing ore from Guinea. Output was estimated at 74,800 metric tons in 1995. This was the only public sector monopoly not privatized by the year 2000. The most significant agricultural processing enterprises were the peanut and palm oil mills at Edéa, Douala, Bertoua, and Pitoa; soap factories at Douala and Pitoa; and tobacco factories at Yaoundé. Other concerns included a factory at Kaélé that produced cotton fiber and a cotton oil plant there that produces for export. There was a textile-weaving factory in Douala and a bleaching, dyeing, and printing factory in Garoua.
Cement plants were at Figuil and near Douala: in 1995, cement production was 620,000 tons, but demand for cement declined because of decreased public works. However, as of 2001, the construction sector had expanded, due in part to foreign financing of road construction. Residential and commercial construction was also underway. These construction projects boosted cement production. Several breweries supply both internal demand and surplus for export. Other manufactured products include beer and soft drinks, cigarettes, flour, chocolate, cocoa paste, construction materials, furniture, and shoes.
The $3.7-billion Chad-Cameroon oil pipeline, with estimated production at 225,000 barrels per day, was due to be completed in 2004. Although Cameroon's oil production was expected to decline in 2003 (crude oil production was 76,600 barrels per day in 2001, down from 84,000 barrels per day in 2000) as older oil fields become exhausted and fewer new discoveries are made, the position of Kribi as the end point on the pipeline and Cameroon's refinery capacity could turn the nation into a major oil transport center. The government-controlled Sonara (Société Nationale de Raffinage) oil refinery in Limbe produces 42,000 barrels per day. In October 2002, the International Court of Justice ruled in Cameroon's favor in a border dispute with Nigeria over the Bakassi Peninsula. Cameroon now has sovereignty over the peninsula, which is located in the Gulf of Guinea and is believed to contain significant oil reserves. Large-scale exploration and exploitation of the Bakassi reserves is expected to compensate for the decline in Cameroon's other reserves.
Cameroon has great potential for hydroelectric power, and it could become an exporter of electricity. The state-owned electricity utility Sonel (Société Nationale d'Electricité du Cameroun) was being privatized as of 2001. Cameroon has natural gas reserves of approximately 3.9 trillion cubic feet (Tcf), and known gas fields had yet to be developed by 2003.