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Republic of Cameroon

  • Motto: Paix, Travail, Patrie (English: Peace, Work, Fatherland)
  • Anthem: Ô Cameroun, Berceau de nos Ancêtres (English: O Cameroon, Cradle of our Forefathers)
  • Capital: Yaoundé (3°52′N 11°31′E)
  • Largest City: Douala
  • Official Language(s): French, English
  • Government: Republic
  • President: Paul Biya
  • Prime Minister: Philemon Yang
  • Independence: From France (January 1, 1960), UK (October 1, 1961)
  • Area: 475,442 km² (53nd) – 183, 568 sq mi
  • Area Covered by Water: 1.3%
  • Population: 19.1 million (58th) – July 2009 est.
  • Density: 34/km² (138th) – 88/sq mi
  • GDP (Nominal): $22.478 billion (84th) – 2005 est.
  • Per capita (Nominal): $1,000
  • GDP (PPP) $44.327 billion
  • Per Capita (PPP) $2,170
  • HDI (2010): 0.460 (131th) – low
  • Currency: CFA franc (XAF)
  • Time Zone: (UTC + 1)
  • Calling Code: +237


Cameroon, officially the Republic of Cameroon, is a unitary republic of central Africa. It borders Nigeria, Chad, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and the Gulf of Guinea. Cameroon, a German colony at the time of World War I, was split among the French and British as war spoils after the defeat of Germany. In 1960, French Cameroun became an independent republic, merging with the southern part of British Cameroons in 1961 to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon. It was renamed the United Republic of Cameroon in 1972, and the Republic of Cameroon or République du Cameroun in 1984 (its official languages are English and French). Compared to other African countries, Cameroon enjoys relative political and social stability, which has in turn permitted the development of agriculture, roads, and railways, as well as an extensive petroleum industry. Despite movement toward political reform, however, power remains firmly in the hands of an ethnic oligarchy.

Free Trade Zones/ Warehouses

Cameroon's Industrial Free Zone (IFZ) regime is production and export oriented. Only 20 percent of goods produced by enterprises based in the zones can be sold on the Cameroonian market. The government has discontinued granting authorizations to investors seeking the free zone regime, pending completion of an audit of past operations. Faced with possible law suits by enterprises previously granted free zone status, the government of Cameroon released the suspension for those units in late 1999. The actual status of the Industrial Free Zone is unclear pending issuance of a new investment charter that was scheduled for 2000. There are no free trade warehouses in Cameroon.

Investment Code

The law that governs investments in Cameroon is the 1990 investment code. Its incentives are identical for foreign and domestic investors and provides 14 basic guarantees to investors, including: property ownership, ability to repatriate capital and income, prior compensation in case of expropriation, freedom of movement within Cameroon and free egress for personnel. General benefits of the investment code are available to all new and existing enterprises which process goods for export or use inputs from the local or regional markets. In addition to these general benefits, firms may qualify for one of the five special investment formulae that offer more advantages. The five formulae are: the basic regime; the small and mediumsize enterprise regime; the strategic enterprise regime; the reinvestment regime; and the free zone regime. Cameroon is privatizing some state companies, which will eliminate public-sector monopolies. Except for the aluminum sector, foreign firms can not invest directly in ventures defined as "strategic" by the government, but they may provide equipment and services to the parastatals that have jurisdiction over such activity. Buyers of some privatized former state monopolies enjoy concessions that limit the entry of competitors into the sector for specified periods. The government has revised exploration codes for the hydrocarbons and forestry sectors. Cameroon's 1990 investment code establishes requirements for at least 35 percent Cameroonian equity ownership for enterprises under the small and medium-size enterprise regime. Under the investment code, an industrial free zone investor can operate virtually outside of the jurisdiction of the country's established legal and regulatory systems; there are no requirements for technology transfer, no requirements to locate in specific geographical areas and foreign exchange privileges are not rationed. Investors can transfer dividends, return of capital, interest and capital on foreign debt, lease payments, royalties and management fees, returns on liquidation, etc. Cameroon has a high literacy rate and offers a relatively well-educated labor force, yet unemployment has been estimated at between 30 and 35 percent in the two major cities of Douala and Yaounde. There is a large surplus of unskilled and non-technical labor. Cameroon has no foreign trade zones or free ports but it has an industrial free zone (IFZ) regime that is applicable to all locations through "industrial park" or "single-factory" zones. The National Office for Industrial Free Zones (NOFIZ) is the non-profit regulatory body established to oversee and administer Cameroon's IFZ program. According to IMF data, foreign direct investment was CFA franc 53 billion (US$90 million) in Cameroonian fiscal year 1996-97, about one percent of GDP. France is the most important foreign investor in Cameroon.