The paper provides an overview of recent economic and social developments in Cameroon. The state and the dynamics of poverty has been analyzed. The pillars of the short- and medium-term growth and poverty reduction strategy have been described. The paper provides a quantitative assessment and costing of Cameroon’s poverty reduction strategy, a consistency check between the macroeconomic framework and sector strategies, and estimates of the total cost of the strategy. It also explains how the poverty reduction strategy will be monitored and evaluated.

Abstract

The paper provides an overview of recent economic and social developments in Cameroon. The state and the dynamics of poverty has been analyzed. The pillars of the short- and medium-term growth and poverty reduction strategy have been described. The paper provides a quantitative assessment and costing of Cameroon’s poverty reduction strategy, a consistency check between the macroeconomic framework and sector strategies, and estimates of the total cost of the strategy. It also explains how the poverty reduction strategy will be monitored and evaluated.

CHAPTER 1: RECENT DEVELOPMENTS AND BACKGROUND TO THE PRSP

1.1 INTRODUCTION

76. Successive programs of macroeconomic stabilization and structural reform in recent years have succeeded in consolidating the government’s fiscal position and improving the business climate, as well as the overall competitiveness of the Cameroonian economy. As a result, Cameroon has enjoyed annual economic growth rates of around 4.5 percent for the last five years, despite the continuing decline of the oil sector. Partly as a result of this solid macroeconomic performance, there has been a marked decline in poverty among the Cameroonian people. In particular, income per capita rose annually at about 2 percent over the period 1996–2001, accompanied by a significant fall of about 10 percentage points in the rate of monetary poverty over the same period.

77. Social conditions, however, have deteriorated considerably over the last two decades, as a result of the economic and social crisis, and growth has been neither deep enough nor durable enough to reverse these trends. Consequently, indicators of public health, education and access to basic services are still alarmingly low, and are in some cases worse than they were in the 1980s.

78. In recognition of this situation, the government has committed itself to a new generation of economic and social reforms. Their objective is, on one hand, to consolidate the achievements of previous programs and stimulate economic growth, and on the other hand to address the social sphere and to ensure that solid economic performance translates into a real improvement in living conditions. To this end, the government prepared an Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (I-PRSP) in August 2000. Completion of the I-PRSP was followed by a series of sector strategy papers, focusing on priority sectors such as education, health and the rural sector, for which a social development strategy document is now being prepared. The present Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) is intended to bring shape and coherence to this new generation of economic and social policies, and to provide a frame of reference for Sustainable Human Development in Cameroon.

1.2 THE MACROECONOMIC SITUATION

79. Until 1985, following more than two decades of steady growth, Cameroon occupied an enviable position among the sub-Saharan African economies. The continued growth of agricultural output and exports was complemented in the second half of the 1970s by a start at exploiting the country’s petroleum reserves As a result, Cameroon recorded average real growth rates in the order of seven percent over a period of some ten years.

80. During the budget year 1985/86, however, export revenues declined sharply. This collapse involved both oil and other exports, and export proceeds dropped by CFAF 329 billion, or 8.2 percent of GDP. The retreat in economic activity accelerated in 1986/87, as a result of steadily falling prices for the country’s principal exports (oil, coffee, cocoa, and cotton). Growth rates turned negative, and between 1985 and 1988 the terms of trade deteriorated by half.

81. To address the crisis, the government first adopted a domestic adjustment policy, which quickly revealed its limitations. The effect on the economy of government austerity and a reduced public sector was not enough to root out the deep-seated malaise. Economic indicators continued to deteriorate and the steady decline in incomes led to a 40 percent fall in per capita consumption between 1985/86 and 1992/93. The external debt stock rose from less than one-third to more than three-quarters of GDP between 1984/85 and 1992/93. Investment declined from 27 percent to less than 11 percent of GDP. To deal with the pronounced deterioration in government finances, marked by unsustainable cash pressures, civil service wages were drastically cut in 1993.

82. Beginning in 1994, new economic policies based on monetary adjustment, and the resulting competitiveness gains, succeeded in curbing this trend. Indeed, significant improvements were initially recorded in the export sectors and in the fiscal area. Nevertheless, the government’s cash flow was still very inadequate and was not even enough to meet current expenses. Domestic and external debt servicing alike were at risk. Mounting payments arrears on the external debt made the country’s relations with its partners increasingly difficult.

83. Two new structural adjustment programs concluded in 1994 and 1995 under stand-by arrangements with the IMF ended, like their predecessors, in failure. In particular, the objectives of restoring fiscal balance and servicing the external debt could not be met.

84. In August 1997, after satisfactorily completing a staff-monitored IMF program for the 1996/97 budget year, the government was able, for the very first time, to enter into an Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility (ESAF) arrangement. The International Monetary Fund thereby threw its support behind the medium-term economic and financial program put in place by the Cameroonian authorities to cover the period from July 1, 1997 to June 30, 2000.

85. Execution of the staff-monitored program in 1996/97 was reinforced by a determined effort to restore Cameroon’s external credibility, particularly by clearing external arrears of some US$500 million. Furthermore, the government involved the private sector and civil society closely in drawing up the three-year economic and financial program, and in the negotiations with the IMF for the August 1997 arrangement. Thanks to this approach, economic operators and civil society were more willing to accept the necessary adjustments and reforms.

86. The government’s economic and financial program for the period July 1, 1997 to June 30, 2000 has been satisfactorily implemented, with the decisive support of the international financial community, more specifically the IMF under the ESAF, now the PRGF, the World Bank, with its third Structural Adjustment Loan (SAL), the European Union, the African Development Bank, the Paris Club of bilateral creditors, bilateral creditors not participating in the Paris Club (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, China) and France, with structural adjustment loans in addition to the debt relief granted under the Paris Club agreement of October 1997.

87. Despite the Naples-terms rescheduling agreement concluded in the fall of 1997 with the Paris Club, external debt service remained a heavy burden on the government’s finances, draining away the resources needed by the government to fulfill its essential tasks (i) in fulfilling its sovereign duties (justice, security); (ii) in the social sectors (education and health); and (iii) in maintenance, rehabilitation and upgrading of infrastructure.

88. Cameroon’s eligibility for the Enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC), declared by the IMF and World Bank Boards in May 2000, thus opened new prospects for the country, thanks to the budgetary savings that the country would enjoy following the decision point (which Cameroon reached in October 2000).

89. The solid performance in implementing the three-year economic and financial program 1997–2000 produced a noticeable improvement in macroeconomic stability and laid the basis for sustained economic growth. From 1996/1997 to 1999/2000, annual real GDP growth averaged 4.5 percent, while inflation, measured by the consumer price index, was held to less than 1 percent. The current account deficit excluding official transfers declined from 3 percent of GDP in 1997/1998 to 1.5 percent in 1999/2000, as the terms of trade improved. The government finances improved considerably, thanks to greater mobilization of State revenues and a determined effort at expenditure control.

1.3 THE SOCIOECONOMIC SITUATION

90. The improved macroeconomic performance has not been accompanied by a comparable improvement in living conditions. It is true that economic growth has translated into higher incomes per capita (which rose by about 2 percent a year between 1996 and 2001), and a significant drop of 13 percent in the poverty rate, according to a comparison of results of the ECAM I and II household surveys.

91. Yet it is clear that social conditions deteriorated considerably during the years of crisis, and that economic recovery has done little so far to improve them. In particular, the provision of basic social services was severely affected by the government’s financial difficulties during those years. The county’s road infrastructure has deteriorated for want of maintenance. New road building has been halted. Water engineering and electrification programs, particularly in rural areas, have lagged for lack of financing.

92. The employment situation is of particular concern. The restructuring of public and parapublic enterprises, which entailed the closing of some establishments, a civil service hiring freeze, and labor-shedding measures, led to a significant rise in unemployment. Between 1984 and 1991, employment fell by 10 percent and the unemployment rate reached 17 percent in 1995. Joblessness has affected mainly young people and women, sparking a major expansion of the informal sector. In 2001, for example, roughly 8 percent of the labor force was unemployed: in rural areas, that rate was 2.3 percent, while in the cities it stood at 18.9 percent, reaching a peak in the cities of Douala (25.6 percent) and Yaoundé (21.5 percent). Yet this decline in unemployment is a result primarily of jobs created in the service sector, particularly in the informal economy, where job insecurity remains high. Unemployment is still high among young people, moreover, and is exacerbated by the mismatch between vocational training and the employment needs of the economy.

93. To address the situation, the government launched a series of measures through the National Employment Fund (FNE) designed to: (i) enhance transparency and intermediation in the labor market, (ii) provide vocational adjustment or on-the-job training to the unemployed to help them join the labor force, and (iii) support initiatives for the creation of individual microprojects. The government has also instituted a National Employment and Vocational Training Observatory (ONEFOP) to improve its understanding of the labor market. Other steps have been taken to reduce unemployment, and such as the ongoing dialogue between employers’ organizations and the school and university system, and the consultations that the government has instituted through the Interministerial Committee, which has been extended to include the private sector.

94. In the education sector, budgetary allocations declined sharply over the period, resulting in: (i) a shortage of physical facilities because of the halt to classroom instruction; (ii) a worsening of the pupil/teacher ratio, reflecting the teacher hiring freeze; (iii) shortages of teaching materials and other school supplies. Problems in the education system also reflect other ills, in particular (iv) a lack of equity and ineffective management of the system.

95. Technical education and vocational training. The onset of the crisis sparked a flood of applicants for technical education and vocational training, yet the lack of credit has made it impossible to develop the necessary facilities. Training programs are still inappropriate in light of socioeconomic and vocational realities, and teaching equipment is inadequate and obsolete, meaning that training is more theoretical than practical. As to vocational education, it remains in its infancy, and is still unstructured.

96. These factors have combined to produce a sharp decline in the quality of the education system, as reflected in: (i) high repetition and dropout rates; (ii) geographic and gender disparities in access to schools; (iii) disparities in the installation of school infrastructure; (iv) a deterioration in the quality of teaching and learning; (v) a high degree of centralization and inefficiencies in the management of the education system.

97. Higher education has suffered a similar fate, made worse by capacity problems in the face of a rapidly growing student body. When it was opened in 1962, the Federal University of Cameroon had about 600 students. That number rose to 7000 in 1970, 32,000 in 1990, 50,000 in 1992, and more than 71,000 in 2002. This sharp growth in demand for higher education has led to over-enrollment in the former University of Yaoundé, and the other four universities, at Buéa, Douala, Dschang and Ngaoundéré, have been unable to absorb the overflow.

98. As a result, higher education conditions and performance are deteriorating, with: (i) a worsening of the student/teacher ratio, (ii) inadequate guidance services for students, (iii) lower quality of teaching, and (iv) poor performance by the system, open internally and externally, as illustrated by high failure rates, in the professional faculties especially, and a growing number of graduates who cannot find jobs. There is also an imbalance in the allocation of the university budget, which is tilted towards administrative expenses to the detriment of teaching and research. This has worsened working conditions, and is demoralizing the university community.

99. In the health field, the problems are virtually the same as those in education. Budgetary cutbacks have led to: (i) a halt in the construction and equipping of health facilities; (ii) a freeze on the hiring of public health workers; and (iii) a shortage of personnel in both quantitative and qualitative terms. Moreover, the distribution of health workers across the country is inappropriate, and salary cutbacks for government employees have undermined their performance. As a result, the main quality indicators have deteriorated against WHO standards: there is one physician for every 10,000 inhabitants (compared to 1 for every 3000) and one nurse for every 2,250 inhabitants (compared to 1 for every 1000).

100. The collapse of the health system has come just as new challenges to the health sector have appeared. In particular, (i) the incidence of HIV/AIDS rose from 2 percent to 11.8 percent between 1992 and 2002, and is particularly severe among the working-age population, (ii) tuberculosis has returned with renewed intensity, generally in conjunction with HIV/AIDS, and (iii) malaria is persistent, accounting for between 40 and 50 percent of medical visits and 28 percent of hospitalizations. This situation is undermining the health of the Cameroonian people and reducing both the quantity and quality of human capital, which could have a severe impact on the outlook for economic growth over the medium and longer terms. Moreover, life expectancy at birth remains low (59 years) and infant mortality is still high (77 per 1000), as is maternal mortality (430 per 100,000 live births).

Graph 1.
Graph 1.

The prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Cameroon

(population ages 15 to 49)

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2003, 249; 10.5089/9781451808056.002.A001

Source: MINSANTE

101. At the same time, Cameroon has been experiencing rapid and continuous urbanization, primarily through rural exodus. According to available statistics, nearly half of the country’s population now lives in the cities. The average growth rate for the overall population is about 2.8 percent, but it is 5 percent in urban areas, reaching 7 percent in Yaoundé and 6.4 percent in Douala. Projections point to a doubling of the population of these two cities by 2015. Under the combined impact of uncontrolled urbanization and economic crises, Cameroonian cities, particularly the larger ones, are confronted by many problems including the proliferation of squatter settlements, unhealthful and insecure living conditions, rising unemployment, and growing numbers of homeless people, street children, and the mentally ill.

1.4 THE CONTEXT AND FEATURES OF CAMEROON’S PRSP

102. The Cameroonian government is fully aware of the scope of these social problems and the need for a comprehensive medium-term development framework for coordinating all of its economic and social strategies. Such a framework would help to articulate an integrated vision of sustainable human development with a forward-looking set of sectoral strategies and programs for making that vision a reality. The government took some important decisions in this respect in the form of its Poverty Strategy Declaration, adopted in December 1998. The government has also subscribed to the Millennium Development Goals (MDG, September 2000), whereby 191 countries, including Cameroon, adopted a minimum set of targets for poverty reduction and human development by the year 2015.1

103. A first important milestone in translating this vision into an action plan came in August 2000, when the government prepared its Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (I-PRSP). The actions called for in the interim PRSP have been satisfactorily pursued, consistent with current programs, and the government has placed particular stress on the emergency measures described in that paper with respect to poverty, education, health and HIV, improving road maintenance and supporting SMEs, verifying and discharging the domestic debt, improving governance, and combating corruption. These initiatives have continued in other sectors, and the authorities drew upon this experience in preparing the PRSP. Since then, major efforts have been made to develop sectoral strategies. Strategy papers have now been prepared for national education, health and rural development.

104. The present Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) represents the culmination of these efforts. The PRSP is intended to be an empirical expression of a comprehensive framework for sustainable human development for Cameroon over the medium term, and to chart the course for the country towards the MDG. Although it is still a work in progress, this first version of the PRSP already contains a number of notable features and functionalities that the government intends to build upon, through an adaptive and participatory process.

105. A comprehensive development framework. In substance, the PRSP offers an empirical and integrated framework for the development of Cameroon, one in which macroeconomic, sectoral and social policies work together to promote growth, reduce poverty, and improve other dimensions of human development (education, health, security, etc.). In particular, the PRSP brings the government’s macroeconomic and structural reform programs (PRGF and SAL III) into line with its sectoral strategies (education, health, infrastructure, etc.), thereby ensuring that these various pillars of economic and social policy will be mutually reinforcing over the medium term. The government has already adopted a full-scale action program for progressively refining the strategy through the development of other sectoral strategies, in the social area, infrastructure, industry and the urban sector.

106. A coherent financial framework. The PRSP also constitutes a coherent short- and medium-term financial framework for the government. It makes the trend of growth-generated revenues compatible with the financing needs of the sector strategies, while at the same time ensuring that the pace of execution of macro and sector strategies will have an impact on the economic growth path. Similarly, the PRSP offers a framework for bringing government fiscal and budgetary policies into line with the declared objectives of supporting the productive sector and the social sectors. It is the rigorous respect of macroeconomic, budgetary and sectoral frameworks that will ensure the short- and medium-term financial coherence of the PRSP.

107. A framework for coordinating government efforts and external support. The PRSP will be able to achieve its objectives only if sufficient political will and public resources can be effectively mobilized and targeted at the strategic issues indicated in the paper, and if the concomitant programs are properly executed. Similarly, in the case of the sectoral growth “forecasts”, their “probability” will depend on the effective implementation of reforms. The PRSP offers a frame of reference for targeting and coordinating government action. It also outlines the place of the various assistance programs offered by the country’s development partners. In this sense, it constitutes a framework for mobilizing and coordinating external assistance. The same is true of the government’s macroeconomic program, which the IMF is supporting in the context of the PRGF, and the World Bank’s Structural Adjustment Loan (SAL), for which the PRSP will now serve as the focal point.2

108. A framework for consultation and consensus-building with civil society, the private sector and development partners. The PRSP is the result of an intensive process of participation and consultation. The government organized participatory consultations throughout the country in order to enlist the public and civil society in identifying economic and social problems and in formulating the strategy. The government intends to institutionalize this approach for monitoring and periodic review of the strategy. In the same spirit, the government instituted a process of ongoing consultations with development partners for preparing the strategy. It intends to reinforce this process for implementing, monitoring and reviewing the PRSP, and for mobilizing and coordinating external assistance.

109. Underlying the preparation of the PRSP was a series of wide-ranging analytical studies designed to clarify choices, identify priorities, and ensure compatibility between ends and means. In particular, and with the support of the World Bank and the European Union, the government conducted large-scale statistical studies to assess the scope of poverty in Cameroon (ECAM I and II), and to analyze its dynamics and its determining factors as the basis for designing a poverty strategy. A schedule of in-depth analytical studies was prepared for conducting this work in the context of monitoring the strategy and making future revisions to it. With support from the UNDP and the World Bank, the government has also developed an instrument for macroeconomic and budgetary scaling, so as to simulate the growth profile and ensure consistency between the macroeconomic framework and the sectoral strategies of the PRSP. At the same time, sectoral analysis models have been developed for quantifying sectoral strategies and placing them in relation to the macro framework. The government intends to pursue these modeling exercises and to reinforce its technical capacity to monitor the program and the strategy.

110. The government, again with the support of the UNDP and the World Bank, has launched a “Comprehensive economic study on the sources of growth for reducing poverty”,3 to identify competitive industries and recommend support policies. At the same time, the authorities have undertaken a large-scale study on the competitiveness of the Cameroonian economy4, an interim report on which is now available. The initial results of these studies were used in formulating the PRSP, while the final results will provide input to the next revision of the paper. Finally, in order to have the strategy reflected regional specificities, a series of socioeconomic studies5 has been initiated with UNDP support. These studies should provide an effective instrument for monitoring the execution of the strategy and its impact in the regions, from the viewpoint of effective decentralization.

CHAPTER 2: THE CHARACTERISTICS OF POVERTY IN CAMEROON

2.1 DEFINITIONS AND PERCEPTIONS OF POVERTY

111. Assessing the poverty status of a person or group of individuals is a complex undertaking. The concept of poverty is essentially a relative one. Within any human group, the poor are, schematically, that portion of the population whose living conditions are manifestly below the observed average. This allows us to identify a kind of demarcation line between the “poor” and the “nonpoor”, one that varies in space and in time. In Cameroon, it is now possible to identify the “poor” population using a variety of sources and a broad range of characteristics that are often closely linked to the sociocultural setting.

112. As part of the participatory process for preparing the PRSP, one of the first concerns of those involved was to ensure that they had properly identified the scourge they were seeking to combat, i.e. what it was that made people “poor”. As a prelude to the participatory consultations with grass-roots communities, a seminar was held to launch the PRSP preparation process in January 2000, at which participants defined poverty in terms of material deprivation, food insecurity, lack of access to social services (health, education and basic training), decent employment, safe drinking water, social protection, reliable information, housing, transportation, and the lack of involvement in decision-making.

113. The participatory consultations for preparing the PRSP found that nearly all the people interviewed in the field saw poverty as above all the lack of material or financial resources to satisfy their basic needs. These needs include food, housing, health care, education, safe drinking water, etc. The lack of services for meeting these basic needs in some localities can also make people poor, even in the case of families who have the means to pay for them.

114. In its 1998 Human Development Report on Poverty in Cameroon, the UNDP considers poverty as a complex phenomenon that generally refers to inadequacy of resources and deprivation of choices that would enable people to enjoy decent living conditions. Thus poverty has a multiplicity of dimensions, including poor health and education conditions, lack of access to knowledge, the impossibility of exercising civil rights, lack of dignity and personal confidence, degradation of the environment, etc.

2.2 THE QUANTITATIVE OR MONETARY APPROACH TO POVERTY

2.2.1 Household living conditions surveys

115. The quantitative or monetary approach to poverty is based on the method of basic food and nonfood needs, identified using data from the two Cameroonian Household Surveys (ECAM I and II) that were conducted nationwide in 1996 and 2001. They provided a clear picture of the status of poverty and living conditions in Cameroonian households.

116. The 1996 household survey (ECAM I), which was the first of a series, was conducted just as Cameroon was emerging from a severe economic crisis that had lasted for nearly a decade. That survey was able to measure the effects of the crisis and of structural adjustment programs on household living standards and conditions. The ECAM II survey, which was undertaken in September 2001, updated the poverty profile and served in preparing benchmark indicators to monitor progress in reducing poverty. It also provided the basis for preparing the complete PRSP.

Standard of living and poverty threshold indicator

Annual household consumption is the best reflection of living standards relative to income, but it is very difficult to measure. Final household consumption as constructed for this purpose includes, in our context, four distinct elements, namely: monetary consumption, self-consumption, transfers in-kind from other households, and imputed rent.

Self-consumption and transfers in-kind were valued at the time of data collection. Self-consumption was corrected for under-estimation using data collected during the survey on unsold agricultural production. Durable goods were recorded at 5 percent of their user value. Health expenditures considered in the indicator referred to medical consultations. Expenses for hospitalization, medical evacuation and physical rehabilitation devices were excluded.

The benchmark poverty threshold used (based on the basic needs approach) was calculated using a food threshold, to which was added an amount for nonfood basic needs. The food threshold was calculated from a household food basket composed of 61 goods representative of consumer choices as revealed by the survey. Purchasing power parity indices for Yaoundé and other regions were calculated so as to value the basket of goods at Yaoundé prices. For example, an index of 0.950 for a region means that a basket of goods that would cost 1000 CFA francs in Yaoundé will cost 950 CFA francs in this region.

The goods selected were combined to provide a working-age adult with a daily dietary consumption of 2900 calories. This caloric level was selected in light of the adult equivalent scale (“Recommended Dietary Allowance”, RDA) used for standardizing household expenditures. It is constructed on the assumption that an adult consumes 2900 calories per day, depending on age and sex. On this basis, the food threshold calculated at Yaoundé prices is 151,398 CFA francs per year and per adult equivalent.

For determining the total threshold, the nonfood portion is estimated as a fraction of the food component. The minimum threshold was set at 232,547 CFA francs, and the maximum threshold at 345,535 CFA francs per year and per adult equivalent. Thus, households where the annual consumption expenditure per adult equivalent is clearly below the minimum threshold are considered “poor”. Those whose expenditure falls between the minimum and maximum thresholds are considered as “intermediate”, and households whose expenditure exceeds the maximum threshold are considered “nonpoor”.

Source: MINEPAT/DSCN

117. The ECAM II survey covered all 10 provinces of Cameroon, and was conducted in both urban and rural areas using a sample of 12,000 households, of which 10,992 were actually visited. By contrast, for the ECAM I survey the country was divided into six strata (Douala, Yaoundé, other cities, forests, high plateaus, savanna) and the sample size was 1800 households, of which 1731 were actually interviewed.

2.2.2 The standard-of-living indicator and the poverty threshold for 2001

118. The standard of living indicator used for determining the poverty threshold is annual household final consumption. The poverty threshold was thus set at 232,547 CFA francs in 2001, versus 148,000 in 1996. The corresponding incidence of poverty is 40.2 percent for 2001, and 50.5 percent for 1996. For purposes of comparing the poverty situation between 1996 and 2001, a new threshold of 185,490 CFA francs was estimated. The incidence of poverty was then reevaluated at 53.3 percent in 1996; the indicators for 2001 remained unchanged, ECAM II being taken as the benchmark survey, because of the size of its sample. Most of the ECAM survey data used in this paper for analyzing this dimension of poverty were calculated for comparative purposes.

2.2.3 The changing poverty profile in Cameroon

2.2.3.1 Incidence and intensity of poverty

119. On the basis of the two surveys, ECAM I and II, the poverty rate declined by about thirteen percentage points over the five years, from 53.3 percent to 40.2 percent of the population.6 During the same period, the gap by which the average income of poor households fell below the poverty line also improved, shrinking from 19.1 percent in 1996 to 14.1 percent in 2001. This indicates that in 1996 it required an average annual supplementary transfer of 35,426 CFA francs to lift an individual out of poverty, compared with 26,154 francs in 2001

Table 1:

Poverty rate trend (%)

article image
Source_: DSCN, ECAM I and II Reports

Heavy inroads against poverty

The poverty assessment study was conducted on the basis of comparability-adjusted data from ECAM I of 1996 and ECAM II of 2001. The main difficulty was to construct comparable aggregates between the two years, given the differences in the questionnaires, the survey methodologies, and the sampling schemes. After careful examination of these differences, a number of correction factors were considered. With these correction factors, 12 welfare measurement indicators were calculated and the sensitivity of the results was analyzed.

article image

A sensitivity analysis of dynamic comparisons (national, urban, rural) and inter-regional comparisons (urban vs. rural) was performed for these 12 indicators. The results show that, regardless of the level of the welfare indicator used, poverty declined between 1996 and 2001.

In arriving at this conclusion, we conducted a dominance analysis to confirm that poverty had indeed retreated between 1996 and 2001, regardless of the poverty threshold selected. This analysis involved examining the household income distribution functions for 1996 and 2001, plotted on the same graph. For each point on the curves, the abscissa (horizontal or x-axis) represents a certain income level, while the ordinate (vertical or y-axis) represents the proportion of individuals with incomes below that level. By setting the poverty threshold at any point along the x-axis, we can find the poverty incidence (the ordinate) corresponding to that threshold.

The distribution functions show that, with a “reasonable” poverty threshold, the 2001 income distribution dominates that for 1996. In other words, whatever the poverty threshold selected as reasonable, poverty is consistently lower in 2001 than in 1996. The decline in poverty between 1996 and 2001 is therefore a robust result that is not dependent on the poverty threshold selected. The above table makes clear this decline in poverty between the two years, as illustrated by one of the 12 welfare indicators and three different levels for the poverty threshold.

[Graph: x-axis: “Standard-of-living indicator”]Source: MINEPAT/DSCN
2.2.3.2 The regional dimension of poverty

120. The survey results also show that poverty is still more pronounced in rural than in urban areas. In 2001, eight poor people out of ten were living in the countryside, and the incidence of poverty there is more than double the incidence in the cities. An analysis of the depth of poverty shows that it would take an income transfer of some 43,500 CFA francs per year to lift a rural dweller out of poverty, or four times as much as it would take for an urban dweller (10,000 CFA francs). The two largest cities, Douala and Yaoundé, account for 20 percent of the country’s total population, but only 11.8 percent of those classed as poor.

Table 2:

Incidence of poverty by region (%)

article image
Source: DSCN, ECAM I and II Reports

121. The analysis of rural poverty shows that it is distributed according to agro-ecological zones. Incidence is highest in the forest zone and in the high plateaus. In those areas, however, there has been a noticeable decline in poverty: the incidence was 55.4 percent and 50.7 percent, respectively, in 2001, compared to 72.5 percent and 62.9 percent in 1996, representing a decline of 17.1 and 12.2 percentage points respectively. On the contrary, the phenomenon has accentuated in the savanna zone (especially in the North and Extreme-North provinces), where the incidence rose by 1.3 percentage points.

122. The situation described above, which is common to many African countries south of the Sahara, suggests that policies and strategies for reducing poverty should place particular emphasis on the countryside, and on a region-by-region approach.

The decline of poverty: the growth effect and the redistribution effect

A comparative analysis of results from the ECAM I and II surveys suggests that the incidence of monetary poverty declined by about 13.1 percentage points between 1996 and 2001, from 53.3 percent to 40.2 percent. This decline may have resulted from strong growth in average incomes (the “growth” effect), or from an improvement in income distribution (the “distribution” effect).

A breakdown of the poverty trend in Cameroon shows that its decline is due primarily to the effects of economic growth, rather than to redistribution. Of the 13.1 percentage points by which poverty retreated between 1996 and 2001, 11.8 can be attributed to the growth effect, and only 1.8 to the redistribution effect. It is the cities that have shown the sharpest decline. The incidence of urban poverty has retreated by 19.3 percentage points, compared to 9.8 in the countryside. Yet the advantage that cities have over the countryside in this regard is due to a significant shift in income distribution among urban dwellers. In fact, the redistribution effect has pushed down the incidence of urban poverty by 8.4 percentage points. At the same time, it is gratifying to note that economic growth has benefited urban and rural dwellers alike, accounting in both cases for 11.8 percentage points of the total decline.

Table 3:

Breakdown of the trend of poverty indicators between 1996 and 2001 (%)

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Source: ECAM I, ECAM II

A similar analysis can be applied to the depth of poverty (P1), which has retreated nationally by 5.9 percentage points, thanks essentially to the growth effect. Again, the cities have shown a sharper decline (8.3 percentage points). This is attributable above all to economic growth and, secondarily, to the reduction in income disparities.

The severity of poverty (P2) has also declined nationally by 2 percentage points. This decline was weak in rural areas, and can be attributed to economic growth, while it was fairly strong in the cities, where it is attributable as much to a reduction in income inequality as it is to growth.

Source: MINEPAT/DSCN
2.2.3.3 “Monetary” inequality in Cameroon

123. An analysis of the poverty incidence trend is not enough, by itself, to appreciate fully the progress that has been made in reducing poverty. It needs to be supplemented by an analysis of the trend in income distribution disparities, in order to have a complete picture of the dynamics of monetary poverty. In fact, it may be that a relatively equitable income distribution, or a high concentration of households around the mean income and the poverty threshold, is what explains the apparent improvement in poverty incidence.

124. An analysis of income distribution in Cameroon using the ECAM II results shows that there are considerable gaps between the poor and the nonpoor, on one hand, and between urban and rural dwellers on the other. It also suggests that there was little narrowing of inequalities between 1996 and 2001. In fact, average annual income, estimated by mean expenditure per adult equivalent, is eight times higher among the nonpoor as among the poor (963,882 CFA francs versus 85,495 CFA francs in 2001), and it is twice as high in the cities as in the countryside (408,115 CFA francs versus 233,734 CFA francs).

125. Yet the gap between the poor and the nonpoor is more pronounced in the cities than in the countryside, indicating that urban income distribution is more highly skewed. Poor rural households devote more than 56 percent of their income to food. Overall, households spend 7.6 percent of their total annual budget on health, and 5.4 percent on education.

Measuring inequality

In the economic literature, it is often recognized that growth can coexist with poverty, if there are no appropriate income distribution policies in place. Such a situation generally translates into a worsening, or at best a stagnation, of income inequalities. Similarly, a more equitable distribution of national income from one year to the next will tend to reduce poverty.

From the results of ECAM I and II, it can be seen that the decline in poverty has not been followed by any narrowing of inequalities. Indicators of inequality, such as the GINI index, log variance and the coefficient of dispersal between the first and last quintiles show that, despite poverty’s retreat, inequalities, far from shrinking, have remained constant and have in some cases increased. For example, in 1996 the richest 20 percent consumed seven times as much as the poorest 20 percent; in 2001, this ratio was eight to one.

These results reinforce the need to accompany growth policies with appropriate policies for distributing the fruits of that growth among all segments of the population. In particular, rural development policies and strategies must recognize these results and seek to correct disparities between cities and countryside.

Table 4:

Income inequalities: GINI index and average expenditure by quintile

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Source: DSCN: ECAM I and II Report
Source: MINEPAT/DSCN

126. A dynamic analysis indicates that, while the incidence of absolute poverty declined over the last five years, this cannot be said of inequalities. In fact, the ratio of the average annual income of the richest 20 percent of households (the top quintile) to that of the poorest 20 percent (bottom quintile) remained high and stable at a factor of about 8, thereby confirming the robustness of income inequalities. The Gini index also remained stable and relatively high during this period (0.406 in 1996 and 0.408 in 2001). This places Cameroon in the upper mid-range of countries in the region in terms of income inequality.

127. The significant progress reflected by the decline in poverty incidence shows clearly that it is sensitive to growth and to welfare policies. Yet the persistence of a high level of inequality also indicates that there is ground to be made up in terms of the impact of policies on poverty. The policies and strategies to be followed in the context of poverty reduction, then, must be designed both to intensify growth, in order to raise average incomes, and to ensure a better distribution of the fruits of growth.

2.2.4 The sociodemographics of poverty

128. Analyzing poverty according to sociodemographic variables allows us to differentiate by sex and age of the household head, as well as by household size. Such an analysis also affords a better understanding of the phenomenon of poverty, and allows for better targeting of policies and actions to reduce this scourge. For example, a policy to promote subsistence crops as a means to food self-sufficiency and income generation could be specifically targeted at women, both as producers and as people who are particularly vulnerable.

2.2.4.1 Poverty and the sex and age of the household head

129. An analysis by sex of the household head yields encouraging information about the gender gap. The incidence of poverty in households headed by women is slightly lower than that of households headed by men (38.7 percent versus 40.6 percent). It is important to note, however, that 3 out of 4 households are headed by men, and that nearly 8 out of 10 poor people live in households headed by men.

Table 5:

Poverty incidence by sex and age of household head (%)

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Source: MINEPAT/DSCN: ECAM I and II Reports

130. An analysis by age of the household head shows that the poverty rate rises with the age of the household head, regardless of place of residence. This situation was observable both in 1996 and in 2001. Moreover, the poverty rate rises with household size: poor households have an average of 6.6 members, while the average for nonpoor households is 4.2.

131. The above results show no significant difference in the poverty rate between the sexes. However, poverty reduction strategies should always pay particular attention to women, particularly since analysis using other indicators reveals great discrepancies between the sexes. For example, school enrollment indicators show women at a disadvantage. Specifically, the adult literacy rate is 59.8 percent for women vs. 77 percent for men, the school enrollment rate is 76.2 percent for girls ages 6 to 14 vs. 81.3 percent for boys in the same age bracket, and only 3.5 percent of persons living in a female-headed household have access to formal credit, vs. 5.5 percent for those in male-headed households. These elements affect the relative ability of the sexes to generate incomes over the medium-term.

Table 6:

Literacy of household head and children’s school enrollment (%)

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Source: DSCN: ECAM I and II Report
2.2.4.2 Poverty and the household head’s education level and economic activity

132. The survey results also show that socioeconomic variables have a significant effect on the profile of poverty in Cameroon. Those with less education, small farmers, farm laborers, and non-management wage earners in the public sector are particularly affected by monetary poverty. Naturally, all of these variables are correlated with the fundamental factors of education and economic activity.

133. As a reflection of the importance of education among poor households, 40 percent have no schooling (see contribution). Among the total unschooled population, one household in two is poor. This poverty incidence declines as the household head’s level of education rises. It is clear, then, both for 1996 and 2001, that the higher the level of education, the greater the chances to earn income and to escape from poverty.

Table 7:

Poverty incidence by household head’s level of education

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Source: MINEPAT/DSCN: Rapports ECAM I et II

134. The occupation of the household head also appears to be an important factor distinguishing the poor from the nonpoor. Households where the head is a farmer are the category most affected by poverty, with an incidence of 57 percent. These households accounted for nearly 7 poor people out of 10. Next to this group of households comes the group where the head works in the informal agriculture sector, with an incidence of 54 percent. The households best protected against poverty are those where the head is either a manager in the public or private sector, an employee in the formal private sector, or a proprietor in the informal nonfarm sector. The poverty incidence for these households varies between 7 and 22 percent. Yet non-management public sector employees suffer a poverty incidence of 25 percent or one person in four. This result shows the profound inequalities between the senior ranks and other employees in the public sector.

Table 8:

Poverty incidence by household head’s occupational category

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Source: MINEPAT/DSCN: ECAM II Reports

Vulnerability

An objective analysis of vulnerability consists of studying the consequences of an exogenous shock on the household living standard indicator. For example, how much would poverty incidence vary if the monetary poverty threshold were raised or lowered by the five percent?

Such an analysis is useful in studying variability. For example, take two different types of household, one headed by a public sector employee or a formal private sector worker, living below the poverty threshold but with a fairly stable income, and a farmer’s family that is above the threshold but sees sharp fluctuations in its income (because of poor climatic conditions, difficulties in getting the produced a market, etc.). A standard static analysis of poverty would class the first household among the poor and the second among the nonpoor. Yet both are exposed to a certain degree of vulnerability, the first because it cannot attain the poverty threshold and the second because it must survive periods of extremely low income. If the farmer’s family has no access to instruments for smoothing its consumption pattern or raising its income, it may need a safety net of some kind in order not to fall into poverty. On the other hand, the civil servant’s family needs a different type of protection, in the form perhaps of higher wages in the public service.

Testing this hypothesis with ECAM II data shows that the poverty incidence would fall or rise by three percentage points. In fact, if for some reason the general price level were to fall by, say, five percent, some households would see their purchasing power increase. The distribution of this windfall among socioeconomic groups shows that 59,389 people in households headed by a public or formal private sector worker, and 70,287 in households where the head is not working or unemployed, would emerge from poverty, and poverty incidence would decline by 1.7 percent and 4.1 percent respectively. The latter category of households derive their income essentially from the extended family network: indeed, 8 to 10 disabled people are cared for by relatives. Retirees constitute a potentially vulnerable category because of their age. On the other hand, with inflation of five percent, for 266,636 people living in households where the head is a farmworker, the minimal needs satisfaction threshold will now be out of their reach, and they will fall below the poverty threshold, with an increase of 3.6 percent in the incidence of poverty.

Table 9:

Variation in poverty incidence following a 5% change in the poverty threshold

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Source: DSCN/ECAM II

2.2.5 The determinants of poverty

135. Analyses using ECAM II data have identified the principal determinants of poverty, which include education level of the household head, socioeconomic group, and place of residence. Thus, it appears that households where the head has little education are the most vulnerable. The incidence of poverty among households where the head has some higher education is 4.1 percent, compared with 42.5 percent for those where the head has no education.

Identifying the principal determinants of poverty in Cameroon

  • The problem. Formulating and implementing an effective poverty strategy requires an accurate identification of the main factors that “cause” or perpetuate poverty. The preceding analyses, using simple tabulation methods, can help in this identification. Yet the “one factor at a time” method has limitations, because of correlations and interactions between factors. For example, “economic occupation” may reflect the “education” effect, and it may well be that the interaction between “education” and “occupation” is the determining element, since individuals with the same level of education may have different levels of income, depending on the sector in which they work (industry or services, public or private, etc.).

  • Methodology. To estimate the contribution of these different determinants, while taking account of marginal effects and interactions between factors, econometric models are often used to explain poverty. Such a model was estimated for Cameroon using data from ECAM II. After several iterations that took account of correlations and interactions between factors, the following variables were selected from the model as “explaining” monetary poverty: (i) place of residence (urban/rural); (ii) household head’s level of education; (iii) household head’s socioeconomic category; (iv) household head’s sex; (v) form of water supply; (vi) type of toilet; (vii) size of household; and (viii) the time needed to reach the nearest paved or all-season road from home.

  • Results. The results of the model (see annex) confirm the descriptive analyses of the ECAM II results, and are also consistent with the results of the participatory consultations. They provide a better understanding of how the various phases of poverty interact, and of their relative importance.

    • Level of education turns it to be a very significant explanatory factor. In fact, ceteris paribus, a household where the head has some higher education is six times more likely to escape from poverty than a household where the head has no education. A poverty strategy, then, should place particular stress on human capital formation.

    • The household head’s sector of occupation is just as important. Households where the head works in the public or the formal private sectors are better off than others. This finding is to be expected, since these workers enjoy an adequate degree of social protection. Other socioeconomic groups (farmers, informal workers, those not working or unemployed) are at higher risk. Farmers are the most affected by poverty: they are three times more likely to be poor than are families where the head works in the public or formal private sector.

    • The physical environment also has a significant impact on household living standards. Apart from geographic conditions, which are assumed to be exogenous to the model, the lack of economic infrastructure, and in particular the poor state of urban [sic] roads and the isolation of villages, makes life difficult for families. This is reflected in the negative coefficient of the time that it takes a rural dweller to reach the nearest paved or all season road.

  • Strategy implications. The results of this analysis confirm those of the quantitative and qualitative surveys on the key components of a strategy for reducing poverty, in particular: (i) education and health for strengthening human capital; (ii) growth, particularly in the formal modern sector, for generating employment and income; and (iii) accessible infrastructure (roads, water, etc.).

Source: MINEPAT/DSCN

136. The socioeconomic category of the household head also has a considerable influence on family living standards. Household heads working in the formal private or public sectors have less chance of being poor, to the extent that they enjoy an adequate degree of social protection. Other groups (farmers, informal workers, those not working or unemployed) are more exposed. Farmers run the greatest risk of poverty: they are three times more likely to be poor than are families where the head works in the public or formal private sector.

137. Finally, rural residence seems to be a risk factor. The poorest families live in the countryside. Yet it is important to note that here the environment has some influence on family living standards: apart from geographic conditions, which are assumed to be exogenous, the lack of infrastructure, and in particular the isolation of towns and villages, makes life difficult for the families living in them. The distance to the nearest paved road has in fact been identified as a source of family impoverishment.

2.3 PARTICIPATORY ASSESSMENT OF POVERTY IN CAMEROON

138. With a view to developing a credible poverty reduction strategy that would incorporate contributions from all development stakeholders, the government adopted a participatory approach that involved representatives of (i) public and parapublic administrations, including parliamentarians, local government and administrative workers, (ii) economic operators in the private sector, (iii) labor unions and professional organizations, and (iv) civil society organizations, specifically NGOs, community-based initiative groups (groupements d’initative commune, GIC), savings and loan cooperatives (COOPEC), community credit unions (mutuelles communautaires de crédit, MC2), women’s associations and youth groups, various organizations (street children, the handicapped, etc.), specific groups (Bororo, Pygmies, fishing communities, etc.), development committees and religious congregations.

139. This approach, which is complementary to the quantitative or monetary approach, is based on participatory consultations designed to understand the manifestations and characteristics of poverty as they are perceived by poor people themselves. The authorities felt that such an understanding was essential for targeting pockets of poverty and for deciding the most appropriate actions to take in light of the needs expressed by the populations concerned. Thanks to this understanding, the government will also have a better appreciation of the nature and volume of resources that must be mobilized for priority projects and programs to combat poverty.

2.3.1 The main stages of the participatory process for preparing the PRSP

140. The participatory process for preparing the national poverty reduction strategy7 was launched in January 2000 at ECAM, during a seminar-workshop that brought together representatives of public and parapublic administrations, universities, NGOs, religious organizations and donors. This seminar allowed for an initial exchange of views on the determinants of poverty in Cameroon, and on the main components of a strategy for reducing that scourge. At the same time, it sparked deeper thinking about the methodology for organizing participatory consultations at the grassroots level.

141. From March 31 to April 10, 2000, an initial round of participatory consultations took place in all 58 departments of the country, involving 203 target groups representing the various components of civil society, as well as individual activists. In total, nearly 10,000 people, 40 percent of whom were women, expressed their views during these consultations. Discussions were completely open, and were conducted in the presence of observers from the IMF, the World Bank, and the German cooperation agency GTZ. These consultations produced a mass of highly interesting and useful information about the way poverty is viewed at the grassroots level, the way people analyze the causes of poverty, and their proposed solutions for reducing it. The results of this first phase of participatory consultations were presented during a national workshop in May 2000, which brought together representatives of civil society, and in particular those of the groups consulted. This workshop identified the key themes that should be developed in the Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (I-PRSP). That paper was presented in October 2000 during a seminar that reinforced the contribution of the private sector and civil society to preparing the PRSP, and laid the basis for those key players to participate in subsequent monitoring and evaluation of the strategy during its implementation.

142. In January 2002, the second round of participatory consultations took place in all 58 departments of Cameroon, involving about 6000 individuals from different social categories. Those consultations allowed people, in particular the poor, (i) to supplement, refine and prioritize the major elements of the regional poverty profile as they emerged from the participatory consultations of March and April 2000, (ii) to learn about poverty reduction activities and strategies planned under the HIPC initiative, (iii) to make suggestions for improving the interim PRSP, and to put forward ideas for poverty reduction projects, and (iv) to discuss the initial ideas on the configuration and operation of the National Poverty Reduction Network. In April 2002, the results of the second round of participatory consultations were presented at a national feedback seminar.

143. From June 26 to July 7, 2002, a working retreat was organized at Limbé for drafting the full PRSP. This work was performed by a multidisciplinary team consisting of national experts and advisers from the public administrations concerned, as well as experts from civil society. The elements emerging from that work were compiled by the Technical Monitoring Committee for Economic Programs (CTS) and finalized during a second retreat at Kribi, from November 28 to December 3, 2002. Between December 6 and 10, 2002, the government transmitted the draft PRSP resulting from the Kribi retreat to civil society representatives, private sector economic operators, donors and governments, requesting their observations or suggestions for improving the paper. Responses were numerous, and most of the proposals received were taken into account, in order to improve the document and ensure a high-quality PRSP.

144. From December 16 to 19, 2002, a public workshop was held to formulate input by civil society to the draft PRSP. At that workshop, participants had the opportunity to: (i) understand the process of preparing and implementing the PRSP, (ii) examine the role and place of civil society in implementing the interim PRSP, (iii) determine a strategy for presenting the contributions of that workshop to other members of civil society, to the government and to donors, and (iv) prepare a strategy for involving civil society as a partner in implementing the PRSP. On December 27, 2002, a seminar was held to allow civil society organizations and private sector operators to exchange views. At that seminar, the main players in poverty reduction provided comments on the draft PRSP, with a view to making last-minute improvements to it before its submission to the Executive Boards of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. On March 14, 2003, the paper was presented to the donor community.

2.3.2 How people perceive poverty

145. The participatory consultations provided a better appreciation of how people perceive poverty in their daily lives (see annex 2.2). As with the quantitative assessment, income-related elements are seen as the most important characteristics of poverty in Cameroon. As people put it, “being poor means not having the money to satisfy basic needs”, in particular for food, housing, health care and education.

146. Other dimensions of poverty emerging from the quantitative approach (education, health, roads, drinking water etc.) are also clearly perceived by the public, according to the results from the participatory consultations. People recognize that, even with adequate incomes, the lack of essential services can keep them poor: “Poverty means trouble in getting safe drinking water, electricity, staple products, it means lack of roads and means of communication”; “poverty is when schools are far away, and when the schools offer no real teaching”; “a poor person is one who is in bad health and has trouble finding medical care”.

147. Social dysfunctioning is also seen as a characteristic of poverty. This term covers a number of failures, not necessarily related to financial capacity. As people put it, poverty is characterized by the collapse of morals (delinquency, prostitution, etc.), the loss of self-esteem and of social standing. Poverty also means living with insecurity, crime and unsanitary conditions. It means the inability to seek justice, to enforce rights, and to avoid everyday abuses.

2.3.3 How people see the determinants of poverty

148. The participatory consultations helped to identify the “factors” of poverty as seen by poor people themselves. The isolation that some regions suffer through the lack of highways and rural roads was mentioned by the great majority of people consulted as one of the major causes of poverty. This isolation makes it impossible for people in these regions to get their produce to market or to obtain provisions at reasonable cost. More generally, this concern goes hand-in-hand with the problem of access to basic infrastructure.

149. People also complained about the deregulation of many farm products and the lack of adequate policies to support farmers, as further factors for impoverishment. With no support or extension services, farmers have suffered negative fallout from restructuring, in the form of higher prices for inputs and low prices for their produce, in the absence of credit or advances to producers, and great price volatility. People have a feeling that deregulation was not sufficiently thought out, and that it should not imply the total elimination of state support for farmers and rural economy.

150. Bad governance is also cited as a factor for impoverishment. People pointed in particular to corruption, the diversion of public funds, impunity, exorbitant charges for public services, and the failure to decentralize, as factors contributing to the unfair distribution of the fruits of growth and to the persistence of poverty in Cameroon.

151. The fact that some regions of the country are poorly served by communication infrastructure is also seen as a cause of poverty. People there have a feeling that they are cut off from the rest of the country and from the flow of information from the outside world. The inadequacy of social infrastructure and facilities in education and health, and understaffing in those sectors, particularly in rural areas, are seen as a constraint on people’s self-fulfillment.

152. Environmental problems specific to certain regions, such as drought, water problems and migratory birds, were also cited as factors of poverty. As well, problems of land title and access, conflicts between farmers and herders, the lack of administrative and economic support, particularly in the forest, coastal and frontier areas, were also commonly evoked as factors of poverty.

153. Social dysfunctioning, which is seen first of all as a characteristic of poverty, is also cited as a factor of poverty. This term covers a number of failures, not necessarily of a material nature. It involves the collapse of moral traditions, the loss of self-esteem, the decline of family or community solidarity, the lack of public spirit and the resurgence of tribalism and sectarianism, the prevalence of prejudices against social groups with different cultures and ways of life. Insecurity in the face of full-scale banditry and petty crime, HIV/AIDS, early marriage and premature motherhood, and polygamy are also cited as factors contributing to poverty.

2.3.4 How people would tackle poverty

154. People proposed a number of solutions for reducing poverty.8 Those solutions rely essentially on strategies for generating incomes and improving living standards. Thus, people want the government to continue providing rural extension services and financing for modernizing techniques in farming, fishing and cottage industries, to promote research into the diversification and processing of farming and livestock products, to create processing and conservation facilities so that farm products can be safely taken to market in the major centers in short, to take all the steps necessary to improve living standards in the countryside and stem the rural exodus. Next, they propose adopting an industrial development strategy for mining and forest resources which will promote the creation of processing units that could become real poles of development and attraction for new businesses in many parts of the country. Finally, the proposed solutions extend to rural water and electrification programs, intensifying electrical grids by building micro-dams, and development of sources of drinking water throughout the country.

155. In the education and health sectors, the principal recommendations deal with the equipment, construction and rehabilitation of school and health facilities. People want to see more and better personnel resources devoted to education and health, the construction of new universities attuned to local realities, the reform of school and university curricula to match them with employment opportunities, stressing civics and moral issues as much as technical aspects. Finally, they are asking for greater national solidarity in combating contagious diseases, better care for HIV/AIDS victims, a stepped-up campaign against HIV/AIDS, malaria, meningitis and viral hepatitis, and supplying health centers with generic drugs that are affordable to all segments of the population.

156. Transportation and communication infrastructure features prominently in people’s demands. They want isolation to be broken down in every region, through the rehabilitation and maintenance of the existing road network, the paving of major national and interprovincial highways, the expansion and upkeep of rural roads so that farmers can get their output to market, nationwide coverage for communication systems, particularly in the frontier area (radio, television, telephone and other means), and the promotion of information and communication technologies (ICTs).

157. Many recommendations dealt with governance. People proposed restoring government authority, proceeding further with decentralization in the management of public affairs, stepping up the campaign against corruption, reinstituting civics education in school curricula, and strengthening the ability of the police forces to combat insecurity and enforce the law for all.

2.3.5 Monitoring and assessment mechanisms favored during the consultations

158. The January 2002 consultations provided the opportunity not only to present people with a list of indicators for monitoring poverty reduction policies and activities, but also to share with them the ideas for instituting a National Poverty Reduction Network for the exchange of information on poverty. People welcomed this initiative.

159. They also proposed that (i) the network should have a pyramidal structure, with the village, commune or city district (arrondissement) at the base, (ii) information should be circulated using existing local transmission methods, reinforced by modern communication techniques, and (iii) awareness, information, education and communication strategies should be targeted at the poor in order to explain to them the rationale for the National Poverty Reduction Network and how it will work.

2.4 THE OTHER DIMENSIONS OF POVERTY AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT IN CAMEROON

160. Education, health, and infrastructure services (such as energy, roads, drinking water) constitute a set of essential social goods and services that, together with income, contribute to improving the quality of life. Access to these essential services is a direct indicator of people’s well-being. Essential social services contribute to the poverty reduction strategy in two ways: they determine the quality of life, on one hand, and they also help to improve people’s ability to earn income and lift themselves out of poverty.

Some school enrollment indicators defined

  • The gross enrollment rate compares the number of students registered in primary school to the total population of primary school age. It measures the capacity needed to enroll all children. It tends to overestimate effective coverage, however, because of late enrollment and repetition. This indicator is a mean value that says nothing about how many pupils complete primary school.

  • The rate of access to CM2 (the final year of primary school), or the completion rate, measures the percentage of children who complete primary school, and would seem to be more appropriate for measuring progress towards universal primary education.

  • The gross primary school access rate measures the ratio of new entrants (non-repeaters) in the first year of primary school to the total population of children of first-year primary school age.

  • The retention rate in CM2 measures the percentage of pupils entering the first year of primary school who reach the sixth grade.

  • The enrollment profile measures the average school career of individuals under current enrollment conditions. For a cohort of 100 children, it shows the proportion newly registered in each year of study.

Source: MINEDUC

2.4.1 Education, training and poverty reduction

161. Overall trends portray a mixed picture for the situation and progress of the education sector. There has been a slight improvement, represented by an increase of about 2.5 percentage points in the overall net enrollment rate between 1995/1996 and 2000/2001 (76.3 percent to 78.8 percent). This trend is consistent with that of the literacy rate, which has gained 6.4 percentage points over the same period (61.5 to 67.9 percent). More encouraging is the fact that the enrollment rate for girls has risen faster than that for boys, recording a significant catch-up of 1.1 percentage point and confirming that Cameroon has been successful in reducing gender disparities and offering economic opportunity.

162. The enrollment profile measures the effective coverage of each level of schooling, on the basis of school attendance and the completion rate. In 2001, the rate of access to primary school stood at 95 percent, which is close to the target of 100 percent access to the first year of primary school (SIL/CII), and represents an increase of 5 percentage points over the year 2000. On the other hand, the completion rate for primary school is still low (56 percent), which means that of every 100 new entrants into primary school, only 56 reach CM2 (the sustainable literacy threshold). In fact, the dropout rate in the first two years (SIL and CP) of primary school is very high. There is a sharp decline in the access rate into secondary school: the transition rate from CM2 to grade 6 is about 60 percent, which means, roughly, that only two out of three new entrants into CM2 will go on to the sixth year of general education. The completion rate for the first cycle of secondary school in 2000/2001 was 67 percent.

Table 10:

Key indicators in primary education (%)

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Source: MINEDUC9

163. The quality of the education system. Educational quality is measured not only by academic results but also by learning conditions and the student-teacher ratio. The quality indicators show a deterioration in both these areas. The success rate for the CEPE/FLSC, the examination marking the end of primary school, was 72 percent in 2001. The repetition rate remains high 25 percent, 21 percent and 31 percent in primary school, the first cycle of secondary, and the second cycle of secondary, respectively. The ratio of pupils to classrooms is 52, ranging from 38 in the South Province to 74 in the Extreme North.

  • Teachers. The student-teacher ratio in primary education was 63 during the school year 2000/2001. It ranged from 37 in the South Province to 77 in the Extreme North. Nearly one-half of the secondary school teaching body is underqualified, because of shortcomings either in initial training or in continuous professional development. Moreover, the education supervision system is weak (lack of training for supervisors, too few supervisors, little mobility for supervisors because of logistic constraints, etc.) and does little to improve the situation. To all this must be added a general lack of morale among teachers, because of discrepancies in their status (some enjoy tenure, while others are on temporary contract and are paid much less) and poor working conditions, particularly in the larger cities (where class sizes sometimes reach 100 pupils).

  • Shortages of textbooks and teaching materials. Teachers and students alike suffer from a shortage of essential textbooks: with the exception of French and mathematics (for which seven students out of 10, and five students out of 10, respectively, have the required textbooks), the textbook possession rate for other subjects is only three students in 10. As for the teachers, the shortage of teaching texts is even more glaring: only one teacher in two has a French teaching guide, 3 in 10 have the mathematics guide, and one in 10 has the science guide.

  • The lack of basic facilities (drinking water, electricity, toilets) and specialized classrooms in most schools is a further handicap.

  • Health conditions are also of concern (there is no effective school health policy: no infirmary, no basic medications, etc.), and are made worse by the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the schools.

164. Poverty and level of education. The foregoing analysis suggests that education conditions for the population as a whole are a cause of concern. Analyses of the poverty profile show that schooling conditions for the poor are even more alarming. These results confirm that there is a significant link between schooling and poverty in Cameroon. In fact, the net enrollment rate is 8.8 percentage points lower for children ages 6 to 14 living in poor families, compared to those in nonpoor families (74.1 percent versus 82.9 percent in 2001). This discrepancy may reflect the fact that poor people do not have sufficient income to cover school expenses, and/or that access is more difficult for poor children than for the nonpoor, or in “regions” that are poor in relation to others. Moreover, education spending is five times higher among nonpoor families than among poor families (68,001 CFA francs versus 15,973 CFA francs, on average, in 2001): it accounts for 4.2 percent of poor family budgets, and 5.6 percent for nonpoor families. The difference in the enrollment rate is thus in large part a reflection of monetary poverty, but it also betrays inter-regional differences in capacities and hence in access.

Table 11:

Net enrollment rate and education expenditure

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Source: MINEPAT/DSCN: ECAM I and II Reports

2.4.2 Health and poverty reduction

165. General conditions. As with education, health is an important element not only for the quality of life but also for the productivity of the country’s human resources. The principal health indicators deteriorated between 1991 and 1990. During that time, the infant mortality rate rose sharply by about 12 points, the chronic malnutrition rate for infants ages 12 to 23 months rose from 23 percent to 29 percent, and the rate of professionally assisted childbirth declined by 5 percentage points. Nevertheless, the vaccination rate (DTP3) improved by nearly 20 percentage points between 2001 and 2002, rising from 43 to 63 percent.

Table 12:

Selected public health indicators

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Source: MINEPAT/DSCN; EDS 1991 and 1998; Health Sector Strategy

166. Indicators of the availability of health services show that much remains to be done in terms of training and recruiting medical and paramedical personnel, and in constructing and equipping health centers. For example, the per capita ratios of physicians, nurses, hospital beds, health centers and pharmacies shown in the above table indicate important shortfalls in comparison with WHO recommendations. In 2001, the human resource deficit was estimated at some 9000 persons. Moreover, health personnel are unevenly distributed throughout the country, there is little in the way of human resource planning, and working conditions mean that productivity is low. When it comes to infrastructure and equipment, much of the health system is outdated, facilities are unevenly distributed among the provinces, as well as between urban and rural areas, technical support centers are obsolete, and there is no proper management accounting system for health infrastructure and facilities. Finally, real maintenance expenditure is less than 2.5 percent of what is needed.

Table 13:

Service availability indicators

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Source: EDS 1991 and 1992; Health Sector Strategy

167. Public health spending in recent years has fallen far short of needs. For the year 2002, the health sector’s needs were estimated at CFAF 320 billion, or 5 percent of GDP, while the health budget represented only 1.1 percent of GDP. Consequently, households continue to bear most of the burden of health costs: direct payment for services accounts for 76 percent of total financing, compared to 18.5 percent from the government, and 5.5 percent from external financing.

168. The epidemiological profile of Cameroon, like that in most countries of sub-Saharan Africa, is dominated by infectious and parasitic diseases. There is also a rising trend in the prevalence of certain pathologies such as hypertension, diabetes and cancer. Infectious diseases such as AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis account for a particularly high share of general morbidity. Health statistics show that malaria alone is responsible for 40 to 50 percent of medical consultations, 40 percent of deaths among children under five years, and 23 percent of hospitalizations, and it consumes about 40 percent of annual family health budgets. As well, there has been a resurgence of diseases that were once on the verge of disappearance, such as tuberculosis (22,000 new cases on average each year), often found in combination with the rising incidence of HIV/AIDS (30 percent of tuberculosis victims are also seropositive). Finally, the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate has risen alarmingly in Cameroon, from 0.5 percent in 1987 to 2 percent in 1992, and 11.8 percent in 2002, placing Cameroon number 11 among the countries most affected by this pandemic.

169. Health and poverty in Cameroon. Apart from these overall trends, an analysis of the poverty profile shows significant differences between the poor and nonpoor in terms of their state of health and their access to care. Most people still turn to formal health services in case of illness. Among those who declared themselves ill in 2001, 3/4 were able to seek consultation at a formal health center, versus 1/4 in informal facilities. Formal health centers are more frequently visited by the nonpoor, and informal facilities by the poor.10

Table 14:

Consultation and immunization rates and health expenditures

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Source: DSCN: ECAM I and II Reports

170. The vaccination rate for nonpoor children is better than that for poor children, and children are better protected in the cities than in the countryside. In 2001, slightly more than half (55.3 percent) of infants between 12 and 23 months received the complete EPI vaccination dose (source: ECAM). According to the Ministry of Health, that rate is 43 percent.

171. The cost of health services rose nearly three times as fast as the average inflation rate over the last five years, by some 70 percent (from 13,000 CFA francs to 22,000 CFA francs), and it is apparent that financial capacity has a considerable impact on the demand for health services. Annual average health spending per capita is three times higher in urban than in rural areas (39,000 CFA francs vs. 13,000 CFA francs), and four times as high among the nonpoor as among the poor (32,000 CFA francs vs. 6,900 CFA francs).

172. According to regional health map data, 54 percent of people live less than five kilometers from an integrated health center. This average figure, however, conceals wide regional disparities, ranging from 43 percent in the province of Adamaoua to 78 percent in the province of Littoral. Moreover, the ECAM II report notes that rural people must travel five times as far as urban dwellers to reach the nearest health facility. Even more strikingly, 98.9 percent of people who must travel more than six kilometers to a health facility live in the countryside, indicating the serious problem of rural health care access.

2.4.3 Basic infrastructure services

173. As with health and education, safe drinking water and transportation and energy services, etc., are among the amenities of life. Infrastructure services also affect households’ capacity to reach markets and to participate in economic activity.

Table 15:

Access to drinking water, electricity and other basic infrastructure

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Source: MINEPAT/DSCN: ECAM I and II Reports

174. Access to safe drinking water and energy. For the population as a whole, potable water consumption rose substantially over the period. One household in two had access to safe drinking water in 2001, compared to only one in five in 1996. Similarly, nearly half of Cameroonian households (46 percent) make use of electric lighting.

175. Yet there are considerable discrepancies, both between urban and rural areas, and between poor and nonpoor households. For example, urban accessibility rates are three times as high as rural rates, both for water and for electricity. On the other hand, these gaps are insignificant as between poor people and the nonpoor, reflecting the “public” nature of these services: when they are available at all in a region or locality, they are accessible to the poor as well as to the nonpoor, consistent with the government’s “social” approach to policy in these sectors.11

176. Road access. An essential element of the quality of life, and of people’s ability to insert themselves in the economy, is the availability of properly maintained roads for transporting persons and goods. Isolation raises transaction costs and is a factor for poverty. Cameroon has a relatively dense network of interurban roads spanning some 50,000 kilometers, 53 percent of which are classed as the primary or trunk network. Of this network, 16 percent is paved, nearly 40 percent consists of dirt roads, and 45 percent is non-engineered rural tracks. Traffic counts for the year 2001 show that paved roads and dirt roads together carried about 90 percent of traffic (62 percent and 27 percent). Data also show that nearly 80 percent of paved roads, 73 percent of dirt roads, and 70 percent of rural tracks are in the bad or mediocre condition.

Table 16:

Traffic volumes and status of the road network in Cameroon

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Source: CP/DR, Oct. 2002 and Jan. 200312.

177. The limited extent of the paved network, and the poor state of the road system as a whole, pose a major obstacle for people in general, and for the poor in particular, in gaining access to basic services. The results of the ECAM show, in fact, that for people living in the countryside it takes on average an hour to reach a paved road, and that for the poor it takes longer than for the nonpoor.

178. An important lesson for formulating the strategy can be drawn from this analysis. Access to infrastructure services in Cameroon is much less satisfactory for rural than for urban dwellers. This factor may well be widening the economic gap between the cities and the countryside, which is home to half the country’s total population, and more than two-thirds of its poor. The situation is explained in part by the fact that it is costly to provide infrastructure services to sparsely settled areas. It also reflects the relative weakness of rural people’s influence on the budgetary process and of their ability to attract public spending on their behalf. Particular attention must therefore be paid to this situation when it comes to decentralizing public services, to ensure that some zones are not overlooked in favor of others, which would have the effect of fragmenting both the economy and society, and would constitute a major stumbling block to any effort to reduce poverty and inequality.

CHAPTER 3: GROWTH AND POVERTY REDUCTION STRATEGY

3.1 VISION AND OBJECTIVES

179. The government wants all stakeholders and beneficiaries to participate in the implementation of its poverty reduction policies and strategies, which draw on two sources of knowledge: on the one hand, a poverty profile built from a nationwide participatory consultation process and living standards surveys, and on the other, the lessons drawn from its long-standing efforts to carrying out macroeconomic, structural, and sector reforms. The central lesson from the analysis of poverty factors and trends is that economic growth, with its generation of many economic and revenue opportunities is essential to poverty reduction.

180. Cameroon’s history is a case in point. Between 1996 and 2001, poverty incidence dropped by 13 points, of which 11 points were attributable to growth and only 2 points to redistributive policies. Hence, in developing its strategic approach, the government has endeavored to strike an appropriate balance between the competing requirements of economic performance and social development, with an overarching objective of reducing poverty.

181. The ultimate objective of the government’s strategy is to achieve a sustainable and visible improvement in the standard of living of Cameroon’s population that would come from tackling the very roots of poverty. This, the government believes, will result from implementing policies designed to create the conditions for strong, sustainable economic growth and from aligning its poverty reduction policies with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). More specifically, the government’s targets for 2015 are to:

  1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, by halving the proportion of Cameroonians living below the poverty line and suffering from hunger;

  2. Achieve universal primary education by ensuring that all children are able to complete primary education;

  3. Promote gender equality and empower women, by eliminating gender disparities in primary and secondary education, if possible at all levels;

  4. Reduce by two-thirds the mortality rate at birth and among children under 5;

  5. Improve maternal health, by reducing the maternal mortality rate by three-quarters;

  6. Combat and stop the spread of HIV/AIDS, control the incidence of malaria and other major diseases, and reverse the spread of these pandemics;

  7. Ensure environmental sustainability by reducing by half the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water, achieve significant improvement in housing by integrating sustainable development principles in national policies, and reverse the current degradation of environmental resources; and

  8. Create a global partnership to develop information and communications technologies and to implement policies and strategies that offer decent and productive work prospects to Cameroon’s youth.

Table 17:

MDG Monitoring Indicators

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Source: DSCN/ECAM II, UNDP/CAMEROON.

182. Table 1 above shows how much progress has already been achieved and provides a measure of the efforts still ahead to reach the Millennium Development Goals. In selecting its strategic priorities and actions, the government of Cameroon wishes to convey its political commitment to an ambitious but still feasible strategy toward economic growth and poverty reduction. In turn, implementing the strategy will require further efforts to diversify the economy and significantly accelerate real growth, and to put into action targeted measures designed to convert growth into greater poverty reduction.

183. The growth and poverty reduction strategy proposed by the government is guided by seven clear-cut strategic priorities, each supported by a specific plan of actions. The government will periodically review the strategy in light of future changes in the environment, resource availability, and implementation progress. The strategic priorities are:

  • Priority 1: Promotion of a stable macroeconomic framework;

  • Priority 2: Strengthening growth through economic diversification;

  • Priority 3: Empowering the private sector as the main engine of growth and a partner in social services delivery;

  • Priority 4: Developing basic infrastructure and natural resources in an environmentally sustainable manner;

  • Priority 5: Accelerating regional integration within the CEMAC framework;

  • Priority 6: Strengthening human resources, bolstering the social sector, and promoting the integration of vulnerable groups into the economy;

  • Priority 7: Improving the institutional framework, administrative management, and governance.

3.2 A MACROECONOMIC FRAMEWORK THAT CREATES THE CONDITIONS FOR GROWTH

184. Maintaining a sound macroeconomic framework is the cornerstone of any growth and poverty reduction strategy. The government is committed to pursuing a prudent, two-pronged policy approach: maintaining macroeconomic equilibrium while creating an enabling environment for growth and private sector development; and allocating appropriate budgetary resources to priority sectors, ensuring actual progress toward poverty reduction and economic growth. In the short term, the two components may at times conflict, but they complement one another in the medium term. Budget policies that accord priority to social sector expenditures may at times be at odds with fiscal stability, increasing debt and debt service and reducing the government’s fiscal capacity to maintain this policy course in the medium term. However, insufficient or poorly targeted budgetary expenditures can lead to underinvestment in priority sectors and infrastructure, with an overall negative impact on both growth and poverty reduction.

185. Macroeconomic stability fosters growth and welfare improvement in the medium term. It alleviates the burdens of debt, inflation, and high interest rates that penalize all economic actors and more particularly the poorest households. It reduces the level of uncertainty and country risks and hence decreases the cost of capital. It contributes to maintaining a stable real exchange rate. The latter three factors help improve overall economic competitiveness and foster investment, production, and export diversification, thereby accelerating growth, reducing the volatility of the economy, and maximizing welfare.

186. In this context, satisfactory implementation of the government’s two latest economic and financial programs helped the economy return to a stable 4.7 percent growth between 1996 and 2001, with a moderate 3 percent inflation. The implementation of tax and budget reforms has also contributed to putting public finances in order and initiating a debt burden reduction process. Furthermore, domestic saving and investment have also improved as a result of the structural reforms.

187. Despite this progress, developments in 2002 indicate that improvements remain weak. The 4.2 percent estimated growth rate is lower than over the preceding 5 years. Also, the annual inflation rate fluctuated between 4.5 percent at end-June 2002 and 2.8 percent, as against 1.3 percent in 2001, mainly owing to variations in food prices; and the current account balance has begun to deteriorate (-0.8 percent of GDP) after being positive for two consecutive years.

188. These developments show that insufficient growth and lack of a solid growth foundation can also lead to macroeconomic disequilibrium. For example, despite a strict monetary policy, inflation could arise if supplies are unable to meet minimal levels of demand (for example, food crops in recent years in Cameroon); public finances could deteriorate as a result of losses in tax receipts due to income stagnation or contraction. In the medium term, low growth is insufficient to create the level of saving and investment needed to diversify the economy. Of course, it is possible to maintain growth driven by primary products (oil, agricultural products) with a relatively low level of investment, as has been the case in Cameroon during the last decade as a result of the rapid expansion of production in the primary sectors (food crops), and growth can be driven in the informal sector through labor-intensive activities and without new investments. In contrast, industrial diversification will require substantial investment and, therefore, a domestic saving and investment rate in excess of 25 percent of GDP. In the absence of diversification, the population will remain vulnerable to unexpected climatic or economic changes, making it harder to avert poverty.

189. The government is cognizant of the need to accelerate growth, strengthen the social sector, and consolidate macroeconomic stability. Therefore, it is determined to redouble its efforts to deepen ongoing structural reforms and to mobilize the population and development partners behind an ambitious yet realistic and sustainable program, aiming to progressively accelerate growth in the medium term while maintaining prudent tax and budgetary policies.

190. The government intends to achieve its objectives by according priority to developing the non-oil sector by diversifying production and exports, and improving tax and customs revenues. This will ensure that an appropriate framework for rapid expansion of the private sector is in place and that the privatization program is vigorously pursued, including the state divestiture from major agroindustries and the concession contracts with private operators for large utilities (railroad, electricity). Within the CAEMC, such increased diversification of the economy is consistent with increased regional integration.

3.3 CONSOLIDATING GROWTH BY DIVERSIFYING THE ECONOMY

191. The government understands that macroeconomic reforms alone will not suffice to diversify the economy and significantly reduce its dependence on the primary sector (agriculture and mining), which is vulnerable to changes in natural conditions and in the world market prices of its exports. Moreover, oil, which has greatly contributed to growth and public finances, has been declining for several years owing to the depletion of oil reserves. Therefore, increased diversification of the non-oil sector in the medium term is essential for Cameroon. With such a diversification, growth would return to the 6–7 percent range while revenue would be less volatile, making it possible to maximize the impact of growth in terms of poverty reduction and improvement of the population’s welfare.

192. This explains why the government has launched studies on the prospects for economic diversification in order to identify potential sources of growth. The preliminary findings indicate that: (i) Cameroon’s economy will rely on agriculture to maintain a growth level one point higher than the 1997–2001 level, contributing to poverty reduction, particularly in rural areas; and (ii) Cameroon has noticeably competitive assets in the industrial area that could be developed through appropriate policies and well-targeted measures.

Studies of Competitiveness and Sources of Growth in Cameroon’s Economy

Two large studies have been initiated by the government to analyze the competitiveness of the economy and identify potential sources of growth to reduce poverty. While the work is ongoing, preliminary findings have been used to strengthen the growth strategy as set forth in the PRSP.

I. Study of the sources of growth to reduce Cameroon’s poverty

This study intends to identify potential sources of growth outside the oil sector and to recommend development policies. Studies have been conducted by a group of Cameroon’s experts consisting of academic and private sector consultants. The following themes have been studied:

  • (i) Agricultural subsector;

  • (ii) Industrial and commercial subsector competitiveness;

  • (iii) Tourism;

  • (iv) Private sector development;

  • (v) Human capital;

  • (vi) Financial sector;

  • (vii) Infrastructure – power, telecommunications, and transportation;

  • (viii) Economic and trade policies.

A summary report is currently being prepared and will be available within the next few months.

Source: “Etude sur les sources de la croissance pour la réduction de la pauvreté au Cameroun,” BDS, 2002.

II. Diagnostic study on the competitiveness of Cameroon’s economy

This study, sponsored by the competitiveness committee, has been financed by GTZ. It is aimed at evaluating competitiveness by analyzing Cameroon’s economic framework as well as specific subsector issues. Specifically, the study expects to:

  • - Provide an overall picture of the competitiveness of Cameroon’s economy;

  • - Highlight the development and growth potential of productive sectors and subsectors, and identify the sectors and subsectors with high potential for contributing to reducing poverty and enhancing competitiveness.

An interim report is available, and work continues to finalize the study.

Source: Competitiveness committee.

3.3.1 Rural sector: a key sector for economic growth

193. Cameroon’s economy continues to be dominated by the rural sector through its contribution to growth as well as its large poverty reduction potential. According to projections, about half of the country’s population lives in rural areas and is employed in agricultural, pastoral, or forestry activities. The poverty profile shows that Cameroon’s poverty is primarily rural.

An Integrated Rural Development Strategy

The government aims at promoting a strong, sustainable, and equitable agricultural sector growth that: (i) reduces poverty; (ii) addresses the needs of a growing demand for food crops at the national level; (iii) integrates the global and subregional markets; and (iv) sustains the sector’s performance over time. It has drafted an integrated rural development strategy with four strategic priorities: modernizing production facilities, restructuring the institutional framework, enhancing incentives, and sustainably managing natural resources.

Modernizing production facilities involves: (i) improving access to, and the availability of, production factors such as land, water, and farm inputs for the neediest of the rural population; (ii) promoting access to innovative technology with a stronger link between agricultural research and extension; and (iii) enhancing the competitiveness of the productive subsectors. Emphasis will be placed on small holders while attention will be given to developing small- and medium-scale agricultural enterprises.

The government will encourage the establishment of consultation mechanisms and the development of contractual relationships between input supply companies and agricultural professional and interprofessional organizations. Similarly, the government will facilitate the emergence of a more effective private sector and NGOs that could effectively take over outreach and education activities, rural community organizations, input supplies, veterinary services, seed and plant production, support for trade activities, etc.

Restructuring the institutional framework is intended to promote greater professionalism in the rural sector, including farmers, ranchers, and fishermen, through capacity building. In the forestry subsector, priority actions include carrying out reforms and implementing the results of the institutional review, as well as implementing the forestry environment sector program, which is a key pillar of the government’s forestry and environmental policy. In the agricultural and livestock subsectors, measures will be carried out to improve the quality of public service delivery and to redirect policies and institutions toward the needs of the rural poor.

Enhancing incentives will allow the government to: (i) establish, in partnership with the private sector, conditions for more efficient market mechanisms so as to improve access by rural producers to new technology and other requirements, including from the financial sector; and (ii) put into effect and enforce the existing sector regulations.

Sustainable natural resource management will help the government organize and encourage private and community initiatives favoring environmentally friendly development by: (i) coordinating the management of renewable natural resources, involving all administrations and key users (NGOs), civil society, rural communities, etc.; (ii) restoring and safeguarding production potential; and (iii) ensuring reliable local management of rural community infrastructures. All measures will be designed to sustain natural resources, focusing particularly on protecting soil fertility, the conservation of water resources, the conservation of land pasture, and the conservation of biodiversity, etc.

The strategy adopted for the rural sector is a “proactive” growth promotion strategy built on: (i) smallholder agriculture; (ii) semi- and intensive farming; (iii) processing and marketing units of products and subproducts; and (iv) the specific regional agroecological features. The strategy is aimed at implementing active socioeconomic policies to ensure that the benefits of growth are shared. The policy includes rural infrastructure development activities (building village-level warehouses, markets, rural and feeder roads, access to safe drinking water and electricity, etc.) and community development. Emphasis will be placed on a gender-sensitive as well as participatory approach.

Source: MINAGRI/MINEPIA/MINEF.

194. During the 1970s and 1980s, rural sector performance was very weak given the vast potential of the sector. Hence, Cameroon has continued to import cereals to meet the needs of its population. Between 1971 and 1998, imports increased by a factor of 10 from 32,100 metric tons to 348,148 metric tons. Imports per capita increased from 7.2 kg to 24 kg during the same period, while cereal production per capita declined from 157 kg to 85 kg. The deterioration of the productive environment (changes in ecosystems, declining soil fertility, etc.) has threatened the relevance of the current production system. Similarly, the sector is facing cross-sector constraints, particularly a lack of rural infrastructure, inadequate dissemination of economic information, as well as reduced productive capacity. During the last decade, the supply response in agriculture has generally been unable to respond to market signals or meet the needs of rural households.

195. The government’s integrated rural development strategy will be implemented through several programs highlighting five priority areas: (i) local development; (ii) production development; (iii) institutional support; (iv) sustainable management of natural resources; and (v) financing mechanisms available to the rural sector. The government will also integrate into its rural development strategy cross-sector policies and actions related to land management reform and capacity building.

196. The strategy with regard to the local development priority will endeavor to: (i) strengthen community and commune ability to address local development issues; (ii) support infrastructure construction and the removal of specific constraints at the local level; (iii) develop income-generating activities; and (iv) ensure the active participation of local stakeholders in developing their communities through progressive decentralization. The National Participatory Development Program (PNDP), the Community Development Support Program (PADC), and the RUMPI project constitute the prime operational frameworks.

197. The production development component will focus on: (i) supporting farming development and a better integration of production activities (crop, livestock, and agroforestry production); (ii) developing high-potential subsectors; (iii) promoting the emergence and development of professional and interprofessional organizations; (iv) supporting applied research and demand-driven extension services so as to alleviate priority production and farming constraints; and (v) agricultural product processing.

198. Institutional support and renovation of vocational and professional training will help those in the rural sector flourish in their new environment. Key measures will involve building capacity, allowing: (i) administration to focus on key public functions and provide essential services (training, information, statistics, etc.); (ii) economic operators to improve their competitiveness; and (iii) professional organizations to improve their negotiation capacity and to become valid decision-makers in designing and implementing the strategy.

199. Sustainable natural resource management will be achieved through the forestry/environment sector program, which is the key operational framework (see paragraph 3.3.1.3).

200. Rural sector financing includes two subcomponents. The first (the National Microfinance Program) aims at improving the rural population’s access to microfinance institutions and at strengthening the capacity of these institutions. The second plans to implement mechanisms relating to medium and long-term financing for farmers and agriculture-based business investments.

The National Participatory Development Program (PNDP)

As an expression of its commitment to significantly reduce poverty by 2015, the government has formulated, with assistance from the international community, the National Participatory Development Program (PNDP). This program, within the context of progressive decentralization, will help the government formulate a mechanism to hold grassroots and public decentralized structures more accountable and get them more involved in their own development.

The PNDP is consistent with the integrated rural development strategy and attempts to create synergies for a functional partnership between grassroots communities, the state, civil society, NGOs, and donors. It is intended to promote an equitable, efficient, and sustainable development of the rural population. Its primary beneficiaries are grassroots communities and/or organizations, neighborhoods, local governments, and other community associations, etc.

The 15-year program will be deployed nationwide in three phases. Its four components are: (i) a rural community development support fund; (ii) support to communes in the context of progressive decentralization; (iii) building local capacity; and (iv) monitoring, evaluating, and communication.

The Rural Community Development Support Fund (FADCR) will cofinance microprojects and activities initiated by neighborhoods, village communities, and other civil society members, on the basis of “commune development plans” drafted in a participatory approach and approved by a communal joint community.

Support of the progressive decentralization of communes aims at preparing communes, institutions, and grassroots communities to better integrate progressive decentralization and poverty reduction in rural areas.

Building local capacity will try to improve the knowledge and skills of development participants in order to make their joint cooperation in poverty reduction efforts more effective. Potential targets of this capacity building exercise are grassroots communities, decentralized and local governments, deconcentrated government agencies, NGOs and service providers, microfinance institutions, etc.

The monitoring/evaluation and communication component will provide development participants with the information and decision-support/management tools needed to accomplish their goals.

Source: MINEPAT.
3.3.1.1 Agriculture

201. Following the construction of major roads to the Eastern and Southern provinces, marketing prospects for starch crops, cereals, fruits, and vegetables appear good in the short and medium term, particularly for plantain, potatoes, onions, and cassava. The support of household farming will be provided by the development of agricultural activities in urban areas. The goal is to foster the emergence of intensive, land-saving, and highly efficient production systems, to provide adequate supplies of local products to urban areas, particularly in fruits and vegetables. Such intensive production systems would offer employment opportunities to a large number of people, currently underutilized, and would therefore increase production.

202. Starch crops. The government’s policy is to increase the consumption of fresh and processed food in order to reduce food imports and improve national food security. The main strategic objectives are to: (i) improve farm productivity (enhancing the use of quality seeds and technology through extension services); (ii) market starch crops (stabilize urban supply and pricing); and (iii) promote export- or processing-oriented SMEs/SMIs. A special cassava program will be established because of the product’s social and economic importance (a third of cassava production is processed). In addition to meeting the requirements for fresh and processed products, the program will take into account subregional demands and national industry requirements for animal food, as well as starch production (see Annex 3.1 for more details on the cassava subsector).

203. Cereals. The national cereal policy aims, among other things, to: (i) consolidate cereal production in current production systems so as to increase food security and raise farmers’ incomes; and (ii) promote production, particularly in areas where competitiveness in domestic and subregional markets is good (see Annex 3.1 for more details on corn, millet, and sorghum production).

The Marketing Cost of Agricultural Products: Food Crops

Issues

The marketing of food crops incurs many costs (transportation, handling, warehousing, losses). Beyond a certain level, a cost increase would reduce availability and hurt the crop’s competitiveness, even if it enjoys a comparative advantage. Therefore, controlling cost is imperative to improving the consumers’ as well as the producers’ welfare.

Methodology

The cost of marketing food crops can be analyzed in terms of its percentage relationship to the total production cost and in terms of the gap between producer prices and retail prices. The gap illustrates the relative share of intermediaries and their profit margins in the marketing system.

Results

Intermediaries’ margins constitute the single most important source of cost increase. Transportation is second. For some products, such as potatoes, the intermediaries’ profit margin is more than 100 percent of producer prices. Transport cost depends on the distance and the season (rainy or dry season). In theory, the cost per kilometer ranges between CFAF 202 on average for a small truck and CFAF 239 on average for a large truck. Estimates in the table below are based on dry season costs, except for potatoes. The destination market is Douala for plantain and Yaoundé for corn and potatoes.

The table above indicates that intermediaries (wholesalers, merchants, retailers, carriers) are the primary beneficiaries of food crop marketing. Better-organized producers could decrease the number of intermediaries, thereby increasing their incomes. Maintaining feeder roads is also another important factor.

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Source: Study on improving the marketing and competitiveness of Cameroon’s agricultural products, Nicolas Gergely, April 2002.

204. The fruit and vegetable subsector holds promise in terms of production and export diversification. Subsector measures include: (i) making better use of domestic and subregional urban markets; and (ii) designing, initiating, and implementing specific development support programs for priority subsectors, such as pineapple, plantain, potatoes, gum Arabic, and onion. Emphasis will be placed on (i) facilitating trade in and exports of fresh products by opening up landlocked production areas; (ii) supporting the organization of wholesale marketing in primary harvesting areas, major trade centers, and border markets; and (iii) improving packaging structures (see Annex 3.1 on potatoes).

Comparative Advantages of Agricultural Subsectors

Issues

The agricultural sector contributes about 40 percent of GDP, represents 21 percent of total exports, and employs a large share of the population. Agricultural competitiveness and growth potential are central issues in the poverty reduction strategy. Which subsectors with comparative advantages would benefit from the implementation of supporting measures to increase production and achieve sustainable growth?

Methodology

A microeconomic study on agriculture subsector competitiveness has shed some light on this question. The study focused on Cameroon’s key marketed products, including basic food crops: plantain, cassava, corn, and potatoes, poultry from the animal subsectors, and cocoa and coffee. The study calculated the economic return of the production in each subsector. The economic return is seen as a comparative advantage indicator (the domestic resource cost coefficient or “DRC”). Assuming all national production is either exportable or can replace imports to generate or save foreign exchange, DRC measures the cost of gaining or saving foreign exchange through domestic production. When the cost is less than the international prices, the DRC is less than one and the national economy enjoys a comparative advantage.

Results

The figures in the following table show encouraging prospects for most of Cameroon’s agricultural subsectors. In general, regarding food crops, activities are economically profitable with the exception of intensive or semi-intensive aviculture with the purchase of provender. Simple arithmetic has been used to estimate the average DRC for each subsector. DRCs have been calculated for two or three geographical areas, but because of a lack of data, it has not been estimated for cassava and potatoes: the Ebolowa area (extensive model), the Southwest (semi-intensive model), and Mbam and Lékié (intensive model). Concerning Arabica coffee, an extensive model whereby coffee is intercropped with food crop cultivation, and a semi-intensive model have been used to evaluate subsector performance. The cultivation model for Robusta is typically semi-intensive. Available data have made it possible to calculate the DRC for each subsector as well as the equilibrium producer price. The results show that, while cocoa/coffee subsector activities are economically profitable given that all the DRCs are less than one, in contrast the financial return shows tremendous variation in international prices.

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Note: With respect to aviculture: (1) denotes intensive or semi-intensive aviculture, including the production of provender; (2) denotes intensive or semi-intensive aviculture with purchase of provender; (3) denotes traditional aviculture; (4) denotes improved traditional aviculture; and (5) denotes intensive egg production.

Implications for the rural development strategy

High marketing costs, as mentioned in the preceding box, weigh down highly perishable food crops, resulting in lower producer prices. Improving producer incomes will depend on creating appropriate feeder roads, promoting producer organizations, and improving information. These are the major supports for the sector in the rural strategy and the PRSP.

Source: Study on improving the marketing and competitiveness of Cameroon’s agricultural products, Nicolas Gergely, April 2002.

205. Traditional export crops will still play a major role in the economy of rural areas. For subsectors such as cotton, coffee and cocoa, and palm oil, where family farming plays an important role, key recommendations include:

  • Strengthening the capacity of producer organizations to improve production operations, marketing, and bringing products up to market standards;

  • Improving subsector economic performance in order to increase producer incomes and improve the ratio of competitiveness/cost for major domestic and external markets (see box);

  • Consolidating production systems while maintaining their diversity in order to better manage market-related risks. This includes support for producer initiative, as has been done for palm oil in low altitude forest areas, corn in the cotton producing area and central savanna, and fresh vegetables and tubers in most regions.

206. Other promising subsectors. The preliminary results from the sources of growth study highlighted Cameroon’s natural propensity for the development of new, promising growth subsectors, such as pepper, horticulture, watermelon, and organic farming. Development prospects for such activities exist in forest areas of the Littoral and Southwest provinces, and in the highland area of the West and Northwest provinces. Additionally, these areas are close to Douala, the main entry and exit port of the country, which is an important asset for export opportunities.

3.3.1.2 Livestock, fisheries, and commercial aquaculture

207. In addition to their important role in improving food security, livestock and fisheries also contribute to the creation of wealth, thanks to the employment they generate and other related activities, including: (i) production of organic fertilizers to improve agricultural yields; (ii) animal traction which improves labor productivity; and (iii) transportation of agricultural products, particularly from landlocked areas to collecting centers or to neighboring markets. The government’s strategy concerning livestock and fisheries is also geared toward improving productivity and competitiveness in this subsector, including ruminants, short-cycle cattle farming, semi-intensive cattle farming, nontraditional cattle farming, fisheries, and commercial aquaculture.

208. Ruminants. In pastoral and agropastoral areas, programs will endeavor to: (i) improve the management of pasture lands (Hurum) and of conflicts therein; (ii) train and organize cattle ranchers and agroranchers; (iii) develop cattle fattening or dairy producing activities, particularly in suburban areas of mid-sized towns (Bamenda, Garoua, Maroua, Ngaoundere, etc.); and (iv) improve dairy farm sanitation. Also, the development of producers’ organizations and professionalism will be emphasized in order to better integrate the poorest ranchers and agroranchers into the dynamics of agricultural growth.

209. Cattle fattening and processing. This activity is currently being developed around major cities in the Northern part of the country, using cottonseed oil and fodder. Promoting cattle fattening will be the objective of a program especially targeting women and youth to help reduce poverty. The government’s strategy for this area will include: (i) restructuring of the cattle subsector; and (ii) promoting a supply chain bringing together extensive breeding activities, animal fattening, and meat processing (canning). These will be consolidated through production contracts, making transactions safer between different levels of the subsector. Renewed economic viability of the subsector would lead to an improvement in livestock productivity per capita.

210. Periurban milk farming. This activity is being developed around major towns in the North and in Bamenda, with the development of a semi-industrial and a traditional marketing sector in urban markets (Maroua, Garoua, Ngaoundere, Bamenda). Small-scale ranchers, and very often women living near urban centers, are the key players. In order to ensure economic sustainability, government action will focus on structuring the subsector in order to improve production, processing, and marketing.

211. Short-cycle animal husbandry and village-level stock farming. Aviculture and pig farming are activities usually carried out by women. They play an important role in the nutrition, incomes, and savings of the poorest households in rural and urban areas, and therefore must be supported in the poverty reduction and food security strategy. A particular emphasis will be placed on types of stock farming with very low production costs. Activities are intended to decrease mortality by providing better access to a prophylactic system through a network of village-level female vaccinating agents, and to improve product marketing through producer organizations operating within the subsector.

212. Semi-intensive stock farming. This type of stock farming has growth potential, given the consistent increase in the urban population and their protein needs. Nevertheless, production costs are still too high, making it difficult to compete with imports. This gap could be bridged with a better organization of producers (health coverage, group purchase of inputs, group marketing, etc.). The government will promote professional and interprofessional structures to facilitate consultation and negotiation between the various levels of the subsector.

213. Nontraditional stock farming. The demand for nontraditional stock farming products remains very high in domestic and regional markets. Game ranching would decrease the capture of wild animals, contributing to the conservation of ecosystems. Activities will include improving domestication techniques for a better and more sustainable management of species.

214. Regarding the progressive retrenchment of the state from the productive sector, the government intends to establish consultation mechanisms to: (i) foster the emergence of joint trade organizations; and (ii) define an appropriate institutional and regulatory framework. Its objectives are to: (i) train and structure producers to improve the productivity of their stock in the context of the national agricultural extension and research program (PNVRA); and (ii) improve the accessibility of veterinary equipment and medicine, facilitating the development of private customers for veterinarians.

215. Fisheries. Cameroon has some comparative advantage in the area of industrial and artisanal fisheries. The latter have good growth potential that could benefit the poor population. However, since 1997, industrial and artisanal fisheries have followed different development patterns. While the modern sector has grown substantially, the production of artisanal fishery has been mostly stagnant. The population’s food requirements in the subregion, as well as the needs of agroindustry, provide growth prospects as regards the demand for fishery products. Cameroon’s coastal areas are particularly favorable to the development of fisheries for crustaceans and other high-value species, for which the demand should continue to grow both domestically and in the subregion.

216. However, several constraints hamper the development of this subsector, particularly: (i) low professionalism in the artisanal subsector; (ii) high cost of acquiring fishing equipment, which is a serious handicap for local formal sector operators; and (iii) difficulties in the transportation and conservation of products.

217. To foster development in the subsector, the government plans to: (i) improve productivity in artisanal fishery through better organization of fishermen, training, counseling for young fishermen, and facilitating their access to appropriate fishing equipment; and (ii) ensure satisfactory fishing in national waters based on performance contracts signed between the government and the Maritime Artisanal Fishing Development Mission.

218. Commercial aquaculture. While it was once a dynamic activity, aquaculture has declined as a result of technical and organizational problems. The national market offers enormous opportunities, as fish is still the single largest source of animal protein and accounts for the highest import volume. The key issue is to improve the production of young fish with technical solutions, allowing producer groups to become autonomous and to disseminate improved production practices among farmers. The government’s strategy aims to provide as many aquaculture producers as possible with the opportunity to become small businesses and rapidly increase their production and incomes by introducing new and more productive species. The number and dynamism of these small trade-oriented aquaculture enterprises will present, in favorable agroecological areas, the opportunity for integrated development based on a large number of independent producers.

3.3.1.3 Forestry

219. In recent years, the government has carried out major reforms aimed at increasing the forestry subsector’s contribution to GDP while ensuring the sustainable development of forestry products and protecting other natural ecosystems. The reforms have been fruitful, leading to: (i) a restructuring of the local industry; (ii) high job creation; (iii) an improvement in tax revenue, a portion of which is redistributed to communes and rural communities; and (iv) a more transparent logging rights award system involving the participation of independent observers in logging rights commissions.

220. The 1994 Forest Law and subsequent forest sector reforms have improved the welfare of the forest population, which now receives part of the annual forestry tax (RFA). This group also benefits from the social welfare activities undertaken by the logging companies (in the case of large multiyear logging concessions). The goal of these reforms is to have forestry become: (i) a key sector in poverty reduction; and (ii) a major area for Cameroon’s industrialization and exports.

221. Community forestry is of great relevance to the generation of income for the rural population. To sustain it, the government, with the support of its partners, has issued regulations that facilitate access to and direct community involvement in forest production activities. The government wants to further develop community forestry, helping local communities to become long-term rights holders and managers of forest and wild life resources. Community forestry objectives are aimed at: (i) generating income at the individual, group and community level; (ii) ensuring the sustainability of income streams and the forest resource base through simple management plans; and (iii) ensuring that communities feel empowered through training and employment measures.

222. However, because of persistent subsector problems, including illegal logging and weak enforcement of the minimal logging diameter (DME), forestry activities have not yet benefited from the full impact of the recent reforms. In order to improve the sector’s economic and environmental performance, the government will ensure the full implementation of the provisions set forth in the Yaoundé Declaration concerning sustainable conservation and management of tropical forests, and in the Forest Emergency Action Plan and the reforms introduced under the third structural adjustment credit (SAC III), including:

  • securing priority access by local people to forests for community-based forest management;

  • creating a forestry stabilization fund to ensure the efficient and transparent redistribution of forest revenue, including forestry taxes, to local communities;

  • making management plans mandatory for all production forests and supporting these measures through: (i) transparency in the awarding of further forest concession contracts and the enforcement of logging regulations; (ii) enhanced controls; and (iii) more stringent enforcement of penalties;

  • combating the illegal use of forestry resources;

  • the preservation and stability of the forest ecosystem, including the development of protected areas;

  • implementing regulations relative to nontimber forestry products (NTFPs); and making sure that the new Forest and Environment Sector Program (PSFE) is effectively implemented. The objective of this program is to help the public and private sectors establish better and more sustainable management of forestry and wildlife resources from an ecological and socioeconomic perspective, and to link good sector governance to poverty reduction goals.

223. The government intends to promote high value-added forest industries as a means of creating wealth, jobs, and new markets, both domestically and abroad. The strengthening of downstream support capacities in the wood subsector, involving many small-scale cabinet-making and woodworking enterprises, will have a positive economic impact on many households, whose incomes depend on this activity. Support to small and informal wood-based enterprise is envisioned in the form of training in technical and management skills, as well as product promotion.

The Forestry Environment Sector Program (PSFE)

The PSFE is a national sector development program prepared by the government and open to financing from all donors as well as to contributions from civil society and NGOs. It aims to create a consistent framework for all interventions made with a view to achieving the national forestry and wildlife policy objectives.

Through the PSFE, the government is seeking to introduce a management information system to effectively monitor and control forestry and environmental activities, by bringing together disparate efforts under various projects and ensuring that all projects are consistent with the country’s development objectives.

The PSFE, which will be implemented over 10 years, has six main components: (i) knowledge of research and ecological monitoring; (ii) the development of production forest from state domains, and enhancing the value of forestry products; (iii) preservation of biodiversity and increasing the value of wildlife products; (iv) community management of forestry and wildlife resources; (v) environmental management of development operations; and (vi) institutional strengthening, training, and research.

The PSFE takes into account and creates a consistent framework for a large number of pre-existing activities and projects, including those coming from the National Forestry Action Plan (PASN), the National Environmental Management Plan (PNGE), and the Emergency Action Plan (PAU). The promotion of reforestation and the management of woodlands are covered by specific PSFE subprograms which include: (i) revitalizing the promotion of tree planting under the National Forestry Development Agency (ANAFOR); and (ii) creating fuel wood master plans to supply urban centers in the Northern part of the country.

Source: MINEF.

SAC III Forestry Reform

For several years, Cameroon’s government has been engaged in efforts to improve the management of forestry resources and make them more sustainable. Accordingly, it has carried out important reforms that are regarded as pioneering efforts in the central African subregion. These reforms include:

  • The economic and financial audits of the forestry subsector (January 2000). Its recommendations, approved by the government, are included in the July 2000 national budget;

  • The publication of regulations concerning the design, approval, monitoring, and control of management plans for production (May 2001);

  • Establishing a guarantee system to ensure proper execution of management plans (November 2001); regulations concerned include the parameters necessary to calculate taxes to be paid, and the modalities for control and collection of forest fees;

  • The publication of a regulation giving local communities priority over industrial companies when exercising forest exploitation and management rights over lands located in the proximity of villages (December 2001). This regulation describes the modalities to be followed for a community to acquire the rights and to manage a community forest;

  • Transforming the National Forestry Development Office (ONADEF) into to National Forestry Development Support Agency (ANAFOR) in June 2002;

  • Signing of two conventions with well known international institutions (Global Witness and Global Forest Watch/World Resource Institute) to help supervise the implementation of forest management plans, introduce remote sensing, and provide support for MINEF’s field control;

  • Implementing the Secure Forestry Revenue Program (PSRF).

The focus of the forest sector reform in the coming years will be on maintaining independent observers with the commissions presiding over the competitive award of concessions, on maintaining the Independent Observers supporting MINEF in field inspections, as well as on the full implementation of the measures recommended by the forest sector institutional review. However, the government understands that the application of the above reforms remains insufficient and is committed to further improvements leading toward greater transparency in sector activities.

Source: MINEF.
3.3.1.4 Artisanal mining

224. Despite its potential, mining activity is essentially artisanal. It focuses primarily on gold, diamonds, sapphire, clay, natron, sand, rutile, and building and ornamental stones, etc. At the beginning of the 20th century, artisanal mining contributed about 20 percent of the national economy. Available statistics at the end of 2002 showed that about 30,000 people still work in the subsector, marketing most of their products illegally. Artisanal mining suffers from a lack of skilled manpower, a lack of interest by economic operators, the lack of a technical assistance strategy, the absence of mining artisans’ organizations, and a lack of access to microcredit. However, better and more sustained support could help the subsector realize its growth potential.

225. The new mining code established in the context of the subsector development lays the foundation for a new artisanal miner, defining him/her legally as a small-scale businessman engaged in formally marketing mining products. To achieve this objective, the national artisanal mining organization and promotion strategy includes: (i) strengthening institutional capacity; (ii) organizing artisans into professional organizations; (iii) increasing access to technical facilities and information; (iv) improving access to microfinance and microcredit; (v) facilitating and consolidating the marketing system; (vi) offering services to mining communities; and (vii) protecting the environment.

3.3.2 Industrialization to enhance and stabilize growth

226. Until the crisis of the mid-1980s, the industrial sector had evolved into an environment protected by tariff and nontariff barriers, resulting in excessive manufacturing costs. The high cost of power, transportation, and telecommunications, the inadequate infrastructure, and the low productivity of human resources have considerably reduced the competitiveness of Cameroon’s industry, despite tariff barriers or quotas, compared to products of its competitors or imported substitutes. The adjustment measures, such as the progressive liberalization of trade and of product as well as input prices have failed to trigger automatic adjustment in the industrial sector. The protectionist measures benefiting these industries in the past have not favored the development of a globally competitive industrial and technological base.

227. The government gives top priority to the industrial sector, which it regards as the key source of poverty reducing growth in the medium term. The public sector has the ambition of minimum annual growth of 6 to 7 percent, possibly reducing poverty by 50 percent by 2015. This objective can be achieved only with an increased contribution to the national product from industry and services. Furthermore, industrial development will have important spillover effects on agriculture and services, investment and high value-added exports. Moreover, it would offer outsourcing opportunities to the SME/SMI sectors, favoring the development of interindustry links as well as greater integration of the industrial network. Beyond the direct effect of creating jobs and generating revenues, spillover effects on agriculture and services would also contribute to improving the incomes of the poor.

228. Cameroon has some competitive advantages in the manufacturing industry: (i) the privileged geographical position of the country in the Gulf of Guinea, given a potential market of 200 million consumers in Central Africa, including Nigeria; (ii) the availability of a wide range of raw materials and skilled manpower; and (iii) the potential for developing core physical infrastructures (hydropower potential, road network, telecommunications, urban development), as well as financial, human, and institutional resources and making them available to manufacturing industry.

229. Yet the industrial sector’s performance remains well below its potential, as it is, like the other productive sectors, constrained by the lack of an appropriate transportation, power, and telecommunications infrastructure, etc. These constraints are analyzed in detail in the private sector section. More specifically, structural weaknesses also restrain the development of Cameroon’s industry and reduce its role in the economy. These weaknesses include: (i) the lack of a selective support policy globally promoting the manufacturing capacities of high potential subsectors in areas such as product design and development, the development of appropriate skills, technological expertise, export promotion, outsourcing to SMEs, access to financing, etc.; and (ii) weak vertical integration, with most inputs for the industrial sector, such as raw materials, intermediate products, and professional services (maintenance, advisory services, etc.) being imported.

230. The government is aware of these weaknesses and of the industrial potential of the sector. In the short term, it plans to engage in support activities, supplementing the private sector in order to improve the rate of investment in the industrial sector and strengthen the growth and competitiveness of manufacturing industry in order to: (i) diversify industrial production; (ii) increase manufacturing value-added; and (iii) increase the share of manufacturing exports, including nontraditional exports, in the total.

231. These actions include physical infrastructure development, institution building, and the implementation of policies supporting industry. First, the focus will be on providing selective direct support to competitive subsectors with high growth potential, taking into account opportunities in the national, regional, and global markets. Preliminary findings in early studies on the industrial subsector indicate that Cameroon could have a comparative advantage in agroindustry, textiles, and wood processing (see box below and Annex 3.3). Other activities include the strengthening of cross-sector services essential to industrial development, or sectors that could have a stimulus effect on industry. These sectors involve the production of key inputs for industrial subsectors or sectors that have a positive impact on the demand for industrial products. These are primarily sectors such as power (electricity and petroleum), transportation, financial intermediation, information and communications technologies, tourism, education, vocational and professional training, housing, and construction and public works.

232. The government is particularly committed to investing in the large-scale infrastructure needed for industrial development, including: (i) rehabilitation of the Wouri bridge, rehabilitation of the Douala and Yaoundé urban infrastructure, and construction of a bridge on the Mayo-Tsanaga; (ii) building infrastructure links between Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, the Central African Republic, Chad, and Nigeria; (iii) building a second bridge over the Wouri; and (iv) constructing a beltway highway around Douala with a connecting link to Limbe, where the harbor is expected to be developed as part of the ongoing redeployment of Cameroon’s industrial shipyard.

233. Cameroon’s industrial competitiveness depends upon a physical infrastructure and an institutional framework that should provide specialized services in the areas of standardization and quality control, promote exports and investment, create linkages between research institutions, training institutions and productive enterprises, and foster information dissemination and cross-industry relations. Experience in East and South East Asian countries has stressed the importance of combining physical and institutional infrastructures to strengthen industrial capacities. The government can also be an important driving force when working with private support organizations to foster development. The overall objective is to create an enabling environment for direct foreign and domestic investment. A well-functioning infrastructure will help reduce transaction costs while having a positive impact on the competitiveness of industrial enterprises and private investments in Cameroon’s manufacturing sector.

234. The government plans to develop an industrial redeployment strategy and will take the following actions:

  • Carry out an in-depth diagnostic study of the industrial sector: analyze opportunities, strengths, and weaknesses in order to identify and select competitive, high-growth sectors or subsectors, such as agrobusinesses, wood, aviculture, etc., or sectors with strongly positive externalities, such as construction and public works, energy, tourism, information and communications technologies (ICT), etc. The selection criteria will include export potential, the capacity to add value in manufacturing, technological expertise, the availability of critical factors, etc.;

  • Prepare selective strategies to strengthen the competitiveness of the subsectors chosen, including specific incentive measures;

  • Analyze export promotion activities for subsectors catering to international markets, modernize export-oriented business in these subsectors, develop partnerships through professional meetings and investment forums, and finally, promote trade;

  • Formulate a strategy to strengthen infrastructures that support industry (power, transportation, ICT, etc.), including the preparation and implementation of a powerful master plan, monitor the implementation of the transport sector master plan, prepare and implement an ICT master plan, and introduce the New Information and Communication Technologies Agency (ANTIC);

  • Draft policy measures to promote local industrial outsourcing, including such activities as the creation of an outsourcing exchange, the development of industrial partnership arrangements through company visits, sector-focused professional meetings, bilateral partnerships, and the dissemination of information on business opportunities and public procurement;

  • Conduct a diagnostic study of the industrial sector, support intermediary organizations, and devise specific strategies to develop their capacity;

  • Study the creation of business clusters, consortiums, or networks to improve access to markets, input factors (raw materials, intermediate inputs, technology, etc.), and support services (training, marketing, technology, business opportunities, etc.);

  • Evaluate the impact of privatization on the industrial sector by promoting and developing cross-industry relationships, outsourcing to local SMEs/SMIs, etc.;

  • Improve research and development activities by creating a consultation framework for research institutes (such as IRAD and CIRAD), universities and other higher-education professional institutions, and businesses;

  • Conduct out a human resource development study for the industrial sector.

235. The preliminary conclusions of the industrial subsector study conducted as part of the sources of growth study stress the importance of cluster development in the textile/garment industry, aviculture industries, tertiary wood processing sector, and tropical fruit processing sector. Annex 3.3 contains an analysis of these subsectors.

The Comparative Advantage of Industrial Subsectors

Issues

Because of the decline of the oil sector, growth recovery and poverty reduction will require the redeployment of the non-oil industry and high value-added services. Much as in the case of agriculture, the main issue is to identify subsectors with growth potential and in which Cameroon has a comparative advantage. This relates to the broader question of the competitiveness of Cameroon’s economy and each of its sectors.

Methodology

As for the agricultural subsectors, the competitiveness of these industrial subsectors is determined by the Domestic Resource Cost coefficient (DRC). Subsector competitiveness has been rated according to their DRC. The DRC measures, in terms of real resources, the opportunity cost of producing or saving foreign exchange. It is calculated by dividing the economic value of domestic resource inputs by the international economic value-added. (i) Values of DRC below 1 indicate an efficient use of resources. At this level, the cost of the foreign exchange earned or saved through domestic production is less than the international cost. (ii) Keeping in mind the effect of dynamic links and the fact that some subsectors that are noncompetitive in the short term could become competitive in the medium term with appropriate cross-sector policies, a second group of potentially competitive subsectors has been identified. These subsectors have DRC values ranging from 1 to 1.5. (iii) Subsectors with a DRC value of over 1.5 are considered noncompetitive. Negative DRCs indicate a very inefficient use of resources, corresponding to situations where free trade value-added is negative.

Outcome and lessons for a strategy

The identification of competitive manufacturing subsectors in Cameroon is based on a sample of 44 companies, contributing about 85 percent of the non-oil industrial value-added. (i) Using the above classification, the most promising growth sector (group 1) includes the wood, wood processing, and beverage industries. The wood and wood processing industries merit the authorities’ attention in the context of an industrial policy. (ii) Improving the competitiveness of agribusiness, chemical industries, and the rubber, textile, and steel industries should help boost industrial exports. These are potentially competitive subsectors in the medium term. Combined, groups 1 and 2 contribute about three-quarters of the value-added (76 percent) and account for over half of all manufacturing employment (58 percent). (iii) Finally, the cigarette and other manufacturing industries appear very costly and without a promising future. These results give selected and well-targeted support for an industrial redeployment strategy.

Cameroon – Competitiveness of Industrial Subsectors, 1997–2000

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= Negative free trade value-added.

Source: Study on subsector competitiveness, Arsène Nkama, 2000.

3.3.3 Developing production support services with high value-added

236. Similar to the manufacturing sector, with economic diversification there is room for considerable growth in the services industry. With a few exceptions, development in services is driven directly either by government (administrative, social, and infrastructure services) or by the productive sectors (trading services, such as commerce and finance). However, some services, such as tourism, depend on the natural endowment and on targeted policies.

3.3.3.1 Tourism, cultural goods and services

237. A list of all tourist sites prepared by the government reveals Cameroon’s vast potential for various kinds of tourism (safari, ecological, seaside, cultural, etc.) in every region. More importantly, the study shows that Cameroon could exceed the current number of 250,000 tourists per year.

238. The government intends to develop the tourism industry by carrying out specific measures and actions, especially implementing a marketing plan prepared by the Ministry of Tourism. The sector development strategy currently being finalized therefore focuses on: (i) tourism promotion; (ii) the development of priority tourist sites (site selection, improved access, and development); (iii) the preparation of a tourist investment code; (iv) enhancing the statistical data collection system for the industry; (v) modernizing the Ngaoundéré National Hotel and Tourism School (ENAHT); (vi) conducting studies to prepare for integrating young graduates into tourism; and (vii) promoting ecotourism by creating a legal framework and test sites.

239. The government expects these actions to: (i) increase the number of domestic and foreign tourists; (ii) boost private investment in tourism-related subsectors, such as the hotel industry, food industry, handicrafts, and transportation; and (iii) create jobs and income opportunities as well as bring in foreign exchange.

240. The government also intends to develop a National Heritage Development Plan that reaffirms Cameroon’s national identity, supports the development of tourism, and generates employment. Accordingly, it intends to carry out the following:

  • Initiate a national heritage survey that would list, study, and publicize artistic, historical, archeological, or ethnological heritage resources;

  • Facilitate the creation, production, and dissemination of works by Cameroonian authors, increase the supply of and demand for cultural goods, and enhance the social status of artists and authors;

  • Create a National Museum of Cameroon, which would become the cornerstone of the government’s policy for protecting and developing the natural heritage;

  • Define and implement film and audiovisual production development strategies aimed at resuming film production and at creating and developing film-related professions;

  • Create a National Art And Culture Institute that would serve as a development center for young artists, a life-long training center for all artists, and a center for training trainers in the different forms of art; and

  • Improve access to books by opening a modern national library and public reading center.

3.3.3.2 Information and communications technologies (ICT)

241. Following its liberalization in 1999 with the granting of mobile telephone licenses to two private operators (Orange and MTN), and although landline telephones continue to be managed by the traditional public utility (Cameroon telecommunications (CAMTEL)), growth in the telecommunications sector has been very strong. The number of fixed and mobile telephone subscribers rose from about 100,000 to 750,000 during 1999–2001, a 655 percent increase in three years. The subsector still has enormous growth potential, as the number current subscribers does not exceed 5 percent of Cameroon’s total population and the current range of telecommunications products remains limited.

242. During the participatory consultation, the difficulty of accessing, and the lack of, information were mentioned as a determinant of poverty. Moreover, the United Nations considers access to information, this is, access to the knowledge required for basic life functions, to be a major human development indicator. Given the requirements of the New Economy, which is heavily reliant on information, communications, and artificial intelligence, the government will take measures to greatly improve citizens’ access to information.

243. The government intends to: (i) open multimedia community centers in each of the 10 provinces to provide the landlocked population with Internet access to important health, education, agricultural, livestock, and environmental information; and (ii) install, with support from the UNDP and UNESCO, new rural radio stations in addition to the 15 already operational stations. The authorities also intend, through the Ministry of Communication, to support the national HIV/AIDS strategy through the implementation of a sector communication plan.

244. The government understands the economic potential of information and communications technologies (ICT) and is committed to promoting the development of this sector. In addition to reducing or eliminating some import duties and taxes for computer equipment, it created a National Information and Communication Technologies Agency (ANTIC) in April 2002. Within its missions, the agency must promote broader access to ICT as well as activities related to these new technologies, which are becoming increasingly popular among the population.

The Community Telecenters Project

The government has decided to equip 92 communities in rural areas with community telecenters, to promote integrated development in rural areas and improve the rural population’s access to information resources via technological innovation. These are common infrastructures providing information and communications technology services to improve the population’s standard of living, create income and employment, and to prevent rural outmigration.

This new type of partnership with the local government is part of an overall framework for universal access, connectivity, and reducing the digital gap between rural and urban areas. It also meets community aspirations expressed during the participatory process. The partnership will help: (i) create indirect employment by fostering the development of other activities around the telecenters, generating additional income for local governments; (ii) provide logistic support to the National Early Warning System of the Ministry of Agriculture; (iii) improve the population’s standard of living by making farming more profitable and making price, quantity, and product market information available to producers; (iv) disseminate technical information to professionals in rural areas (doctors, teachers, agricultural producers, engineers, etc.); and (v) extend the telecommunication network’s coverage to the more remote population.

Site selection for the community telecenters took into account the existence of commercial activities (border markets, cattle markets, cereal markets, major roads and border crossings, etc.), as well as synergy with other ongoing projects such as (i) the Belgium/Cameroon Telephone Extension Project connecting 67 localities and (ii) a project sponsored by the Japanese company NEC, connecting 21 localities.

The CFAF 1,445,000,000 Community Telecenter Project meets HIPC financial criteria. A pilot phase would create 12 test centers to: (i) verify the viability and feasibility of the project; (ii) evaluate the actual cost of installing telecenters; (iii) analyze results and assess the economic impact of telecenters on the environment; and (iv) foster the interest of other populations in telecenters and better target the population’s needs.

Source: MINPOSTEL.

245. The Community Telecenter Development Project is an important component of the government’s program (see box above). In addition to its direct benefits for communities, its development would help the government focus on improving information exchange between government agencies, perhaps developing a common format for the exchange of documents and information between different parts of the administration, thereby reducing the number of communication media linking public information systems.

246. In addition, the government’s program plans to strengthen school and university structures, promote the development of computer centers, help deploy new technologies, and create techno-poles where businesses, public and/or private, would partner with universities to promote knowledge and know-how (for instance helping the development of distance learning capacities), improve school and university curriculums, and henceforth develop a national knowledge base needed to accelerate growth.

247. Specific measures will be taken to: (i) streamline secondary, technical, and professional education subsectors and programs; and (ii) provide schools with computer equipment and maintenance. At the same time, the government wants to use the fiber optic backbone being built with the Doba-Kribi pipeline to study the feasibility of extending this multifilament backbone to Douala and Bafoussam to create a high-speed triangular network that will considerably reduce transaction costs for businesses and communication costs for households.

3.3.3.3 Trade

248. Domestic trade. More than a third of domestic trade is informal, making it difficult to develop owing to weak and obsolete means of transportation, a lack of professionalism in the business community, and poor distribution and payment systems.

249. The government intends to prepare and implement, in cooperation with the private sector and civil society, an external trade development strategy that will focus on: (i) better controlling marketing systems and ensuring oversight of and professionalism in trade activities; (ii) putting into effect trade facilitation sector policies (reducing official roadblocks, establishing standards, streamlining procedures, etc.); (iii) improving consumer protection; and (iv) preventing product adulteration and contraband.

250. Regional and international trade. The government’s strategy was prepared in the context of the CAEMC customs union and Cameroon’s membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements. Important progress is ongoing regarding the CAEMC: (i) the reduction of the common external tariff (to a maximum of 20 percent) as well as the number of tariff categories (from 5 to 4); and (ii) effective execution of the investment community charter provisions, specifically the provisions relating to trade and to the free movement of people, goods, and services.

251. Cameroon has also cosigned the WTO agreement to dismantle tariff barriers, in accordance with subregional agreements. The government will pursue ongoing trade and structural policies aimed at: (i) promoting an open trade and investment-friendly environment; (ii) protecting intellectual rights; and (iii) protecting the environment. In partnership with the private sector, the government intends to prepare an action plan that will help Cameroon’s businesses take advantage of export opportunities (in particular in the textile sector) made available by provisions in the June 2000 Cotonou Agreement and the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) of the United States.

A Single Processing Window for External Trade

Outcome after three years of operation. Cameroon’s single processing window for external trade has become a successful example of public-private partnership for the entire subregion. Streamlining external trade procedures has facilitated trade throughout the subregion:

  • - Conditions are met for all goods to clear the harbor in less than 7 days when documentation is appropriate and is being processed and monitored by well-organized, professional services;

  • - Obtaining release warrants takes an average of 3.5 days compared to 12 days just three years ago; second vehicles are cleared in less than 24 hours, compared to 3 weeks before the installation of the one-stop office;

  • - Improved transit organization and performance, especially on the part of customs, where staffing has been increased accordingly.

Prospects. The first phase in establishing a physical one-stop office was successfully implemented. In the second phase, the challenge is to computerize the one-stop office to reduce processing time in a sustainable fashion and improve service quality in the Douala port. This would have several advantages:

Operational advantages: The one-stop office computerization will improve the speed and productivity of the business and administration organization. Transport businesses and administrations will have access to the most modern secure communication systems and will be in contact with the world at a minimal cost.

Economic and social advantages: The computerized one-stop office will facilitate trade (by procedures that are simplified, less burdensome, accelerated, and more reliable), strengthen competitiveness (through cost reduction and productivity gains), and improve customs revenues (more transparency and traffic increase). Studies have been conducted by the one-stop office and other port stakeholders. They found that in respect to external trade, transport operators could directly save between CFAF 12,000 and CFAF 15,000 per customs declaration, thereby creating incentives for shipping agencies to use the Douala port for subregional destinations. The reform will be ITC-based, and will improve professional skills and working conditions.

Competitive and strategic advantages: Competition between ports has become more intense, particularly in Africa. In addition to improved services, such as processing time, security, reliability, and the availability of new services to port users (electronic portal, electronic status information: physical, customs, administrative, goods), the urban infrastructure in Douala will also be modernized. These combined actions will strengthen the competitiveness and attractiveness of the autonomous port of Douala, making it a choice harbor for neighboring landlocked countries.

Source: External trade one-stop office.
3.3.3.4 Transport

252. The transport sector’s growth has been strong (25.3 percent in 2001/02) owing to favorable economic conditions, such as projects like the Chad/Cameroon pipeline construction. Although the construction phase is coming to an end, Chad’s economic recovery, spurred by oil revenues, should maintain the economic health of Cameroon’s transport sector inasmuch as Chad’s imports are essentially transiting through Douala.

253. The sector is expected to experience considerable growth, partly because of the real sector’s spillover effect (product distribution) but also because of a deeper regional integration, allowing Cameroon to maximize its assets as a transit point. For instance, the Douala port reform and related investments will result in sustained medium-term growth for port activities. Furthermore, the construction of major roads through CAEMC and NEPAD (the Cameroon-Nigeria connection) will increase road transport, providing an essential extension to port activities (see details on this major transportation infrastructure development project in section 3.5.1).

3.4 REVITALIZING THE PRIVATE SECTOR

3.4.1 Improving the private sector environment

254. Recent structural reforms have improved the business environment with measures aimed at liberalizing the economy, accelerating the state’s retrenchment from productive activities, and thereby encouraging private sector development. These measures include price liberalization, the elimination of credit access problems, the simplification of customs procedures and tariffs, restructuring the banking sector, and transportation sector privatization and reforms.

255. Despite the progress made in private sector development, recent studies have shown the persistence of several obstacles. Broadly speaking, these obstacles are linked to excessive transportation and telecommunication service costs, insufficient power supply, cumbersome administrative and judicial systems, and the absence of sustained dialogue between the public and private sectors. These studies also identified specific constraints affecting SMEs/SMIs, microenterprise, and handicraft development, particularly in terms of policies and the support framework, and access to financing. There is still no SME/SMI development policy in this area, which would help the government impart strategic focus to its support for SMEs/SMIs and improve the division of labor and cooperation among partners (state, private sector, support organization, civil society, etc.).

256. To address these deficiencies, the government’s private sector revitalization strategy, which is aimed at significantly reducing poverty, plans to create an enabling environment to improve business competitiveness, mobilize domestic resources, and attract foreign private investment. The strategy targets major businesses, SMEs/SMIs, microenterprises, and private sector support institutions. It relies on the following components:

  • Promoting private sector support policies, institutions, and infrastructure;

  • Strengthening private sector involvement through capacity building;

  • Promoting policies targeting SMEs/SMIs, microenterprise, and handicraft development;

  • Further mobilizing financial resources toward SMEs/SMIs and microenterprises;

  • Improving the impact of the privatization program on SME/SMI development; and

  • Strengthening the legal and regulatory framework of OHADA.

257. Private sector support policies, institutions, and infrastructure promotion. Activities will focus on: (i) improving the physical environment of business by speeding up the development of the transportation, telecommunications, power supply and distribution infrastructures; (ii) improving the institutional and regulatory framework, making public service delivery to businesses more effective; (iii) strengthening the legal security of investments by improving the judiciary system and enforcing business laws, particularly the OHADA laws; (iv) strengthening the mechanisms for consultation and dialogue between public and private sector support intermediaries within a broader private sector interministerial committee; (v) developing private sector support organization capacities; and (vi) implementing instruments and structures planned in the Investment Charter, including the Competitiveness Regulatory Council, the Investment and Export Promotion Agency, the Industry and Commerce Observatory, etc.

258. Promotion of a public-private partnership (PPP) for the development of infrastructure. Given the scope of the country’s requirements as regards transportation, power, housing, education, health, and tourism infrastructures, as well as the high cost of investment in these areas, the government intends to promote appropriate public-private partnerships, such as operational leases, concessions, lease or management contracts, build, operate, and transfer (BOT) contracts, or build, own and operate (BOO) contracts to attract national or foreign private investors to executing and/or managing such investments.

259. The investments mentioned above usually entail projects, as well as nonrecourse or limited recourse financing, with a limited government commitment, especially as regards noncommercial risks (political, legal, administrative risks) which fall outside the control of the private partner. The government understands that the relevant legal and financial arrangements are complex and will be attractive to the extent that the country’s investment environment is secure. Therefore, the government has launched a study of the legal and institutional framework with a view to significantly improving private sector participation in infrastructure financing in Cameroon. One illustration of this is that invitations to bid have been sent to international private investors for a BOT to construct a second bridge over the Wouri River in Douala.

260. Many advantages and opportunities could come from increased private sector participation in the financing of infrastructures, along with better risk sharing between the public and private sectors by: (i) broadening the region’s access to nontraditional financing; (ii) minimizing infrastructure costs through competitive bidding; (iii) improving the country’s visibility on international capital markets (bonds, shares, commercial lending); (iv) accelerating infrastructure development so as to make it possible to focus public resources more on critical areas, such as health, education, etc; (v) transferring knowledge via local experts’ participation in various technical areas; and (vi) creating jobs and fostering the participation of local businesses in infrastructure construction.

261. Increased private sector participation in capacity development. The government intends to considerably increase private sector involvement in the preparation and implementation of a youth training program, effectively creating appropriate institutional mechanisms and incentives. It will: (i) create accelerated professional training institutes; (ii) develop applied research programs in targeted economic and trade areas; (iii) finance large-scale computer learning programs; and (iv) finance entrepreneurship development programs in higher and tertiary education. These activities are designed to correct deficiencies in human resources, particularly in the productive sector.

262. Targeted policies for the development of SMEs/SMIs, microenterprise, and handicrafts. The government will design policies and specific action plans for these business categories with a view to: (i) strengthening the capacities of high-growth potential and competitive SMEs/SMIs; (ii) fostering microenterprise and handicraft development by promoting entrepreneurship, particularly among women, as well as by imparting practical and professional knowledge through better information dissemination; (iii) promoting business cluster or network development programs targeting SMEs/SMIs and microenterprises; and (iv) accelerating the 10-year job creation program. This program is designed to create, within five years, about 300,000 jobs through 15,000 to 20,000 micro, small and medium-size enterprises (MSMEs). It will be financed by the government and the international community, including UNIDO, the UNDP, and the ILO.

263. Mobilizing financial resources for SME/SMI and microenterprise development. Based on in-depth studies, the government intends to create an advisory assistance fund to help SMEs/SMIs overcome obstacles. The fund will be financed by the national budget as well as donor resources. It aims to improve the quality of the credit applications prepared by SMEs/SMIs, build their management capacity, and improve their credit access and capacity to repay. Other measures to improve the channeling of financial resources to the private sector, particularly SMEs/SMIs, are described in section 3.3.5 on financial intermediation.

264. Improving the impact of the privatization program. Activities will be pursued to: (i) improve the impact on the competitiveness of other sectors, which would ensue from better performing privatized infrastructure services in the areas of power, transportation, and telecommunications, and particularly through outsourcing to SMEs/SMIs; (ii) make retraining or outplacement programs more efficient; and (iii) strengthen the competitive framework.

265. Legal and regulatory framework in the OHADA context. Priority will be given to strengthening the regulatory and legal framework, a prerequisite for future investments. Accordingly, the government will continue to implement new business legislation through the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA), of which Cameroon is a member. It will also fulfill its commitments outlined in the Investment Charter, particularly those relative to (i) protecting business and investment freedom; (ii) securing investments through the establishment of an institutional and regulatory framework; (iii) supporting investors and prompt dispute settlement procedures in respect of commercial and industrial investment and activities; and (iv) implementing an attractive and incentive taxation system for investors. In addition, promoting a competitive environment across all sectors is essential for private sector development, and especially for SMEs/SMIs.

3.4.2 Financial intermediation in support of the private sector

266. Cameroon’s government has already carried out an in-depth restructuring of the national financial sector, enabling this vital sector of its economy to improve its contribution to financing growth and reducing poverty. Despite these efforts, the banking sector still lacks resources to finance medium- to long-term loans. Moreover, access to credit and production factors, a prerequisite for increased economic participation by the poor, remains very difficult.

267. Indeed, financial intermediation remains shallow, with a ratio of money supply to GDP at 19.5 percent in 2002. The traditional banking sector has about 250,000 customers, while the decentralized financial sector has 200,000 customers, totaling 450,000 customers for a population of 15 million, reflecting the low rate of bank penetration. Similarly, the insurance sector has few products despite stronger monitoring of the sectors, which has improved its functioning. These statistics bear witness to the considerable potential for financial sector development in the years ahead. The government will continue to implement its financial intermediation diversification and strengthening policy.

268. The banking sector. The government has just completed a bank restructuring to improve their financial soundness. The Central Africa Banking Commission (COBAC) now supervises the banking system. To strengthen the reach of the sector, the government intends, through a reform of the postal financial system and a deeper restructuring of the banking sector, to promote the development of modern structures to mobilize savings and finance economic activities in secondary towns and rural areas. The government will also strictly enforce the commitment made by the party taking over the Banque internationale du Cameroun pour l’Epargne et le Crédit (BICEC), in the context of its privatization, to open new branches and offices close to economic operators, such as tradesmen, small retailers, SMEs/SMIs, and those operating in rural areas.

269. Nonbank financial sector. The government intends to strengthen the implementation of the Douala Stock Exchange (DSX) to effectively channel investors’ financial resources to potential users. Accordingly, emphasis will be placed on: (i) DSX management; (ii) promoting, monitoring, and controlling exchange operations; (iii) promoting individual investments; and (iv) preparing and enforcing judicial, legal, and regulatory provisions to protect operators against various crimes, such as insider trading.

270. The government also intends over time, on the basis of in-depth studies, to restore specialized financial institutions while partnering with the private sector in such areas as external trade, agriculture, and SMEs/SMIs. In addition to these institutions, it will enhance financial intermediation through the diversification of financial instruments, such as leasing, risk capital, mutual guarantees, mutual fund investment arrangements (OPCVM, SICAV, and Collective Investment Fund), guarantee funds, or regional development funds to be financed through budget allocations and by external financing. Feasibility studies will be conducted prior to the creation of such funds.

271. In partnering with insurance operators, the government will undertake activities to (i) promote the need for medical insurance coverage, life insurance, and mutual provident schemes with the help of administrative, medical, and political authorities; (ii) improve the accountability and supervision of risk insurance for fire, transportation, building construction, etc.; and (iii) insure public real property or real estate assets.

272. Decentralized financial sector. Cameroon’s decentralized financial sector has grown very quickly over the past two decades because of problems in the traditional sector and the expansion of informal economic activities. The combination of structural problems and banking sector crises has prompted strong expansion in microfinance saving and credit structures, including savings and credit cooperatives (COOPEC), the Cameroon Cooperative Credit Union League network (CAMCCUL), the Mutuelles Communautaires de Croissance (MC2) (a community level mutual fund network), the village level savings and loan association under the decentralized rural credit pilot project (CV), and the Cameroon development ACEP project.

273. However, the sector has grown without an appropriate regulatory framework, such as monitoring and surveillance systems such as COBAC. This shortcoming resulted in a lack of protection for depositors and in operations that fail to meet prudential standards. This led the government to establish operating modalities for savings and loan cooperatives. In particular, the government has taken measures to protect investors. In addition to revising the 1992 law on cooperatives, it placed COOPEC under COBAC’s control. The government will rely on a decentralized financial system and try to ensure that the poor have access to credit. It will enforce: (i) the COBAC treaty provisions for COOPEC; (ii) the appropriate supervision of existing cooperatives in accordance with the regulations in force; and (iii) appropriate execution of the national microfinance support program (PPMF). Furthermore, the government will continue restructuring the savings and loan sector to make savings more secure and to ensure that the resources mobilized become a strong catalyst for development.

274. The government intends to strengthen the monitoring capacity in the national microfinance program (PPMF) in order to further mobilize individual investor savings in favor of microenterprises. The success of these initiatives will be measured by their capacity to: (i) increase the lending volume of the microfinance institutions (MFIs) at the local and sector level; (ii) promote good business relations between the MFIs and commercial banks in order to introduce microcredits to their portfolios; (iii) develop new institutions and/or new microfinance networks; (iv) improve small business performance as well as microfinance institutions; (v) help microenterprises evolve into small-scale enterprises; (vi) strengthen the support capacity of Cameroon’s association of microcredit institutions; and (vii) develop nonfinancial support services for microenterprise (business development centers, workshops, handicraft houses).

The National Microfinance Program Support Project

The National Microfinance Program Support Project (PPMF) launched in November 2000 is part of the government’s poverty reduction strategy. The project is the outgrowth of an agreement signed in Rome in November 1999 between Cameroon’s government and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) for a total credit amount of SDR 8,050,000, equivalent to about CFAF 7 billion, over a period of six years.

The PPMF is aimed at promoting the microfinance sector, helping to develop microfinance institutions (MFI) in order to ensure that informal businesses as well as the poor have access to quality outreach financing services, thereby meeting their needs and ensuring sustainability. The PPMF will implement an efficient MFI regulatory and oversight system to help them become proficient with COBAC’s current regulations.

The PPMF is not an external financing mobilization project to assist microfinance. Moreover, it is not a line of credit to meet the needs for MFI working capital. The project will: (i) increase the number of people in rural areas having access to an MFI from 100,000 to 500,000, and then to 1,250,000 at the end of the first phase of this six-year project; (ii) from an institutional point of view, help improve the standing of MFIs with respect to the traditional financial sector, thus enhancing their credibility vis-à-vis donors assisting microfinance; and (iii) from an environmental point of view, increase production and consumption in order to modernize agriculture and preserve ecosystems.

Source: Financiers d’Afrique, F2, No.003, April 29, 2002.

3.5 INFRASTRUCTURE, NATURAL RESOURCES, AND ENVIRONMENT

3.5.1 Transportation infrastructure

275. During the 1980s, the transportation infrastructure significantly deteriorated because of a lack of road maintenance, the absence of new road construction, inadequate dredging of the Douala port approach channel and other bodies of water, and the lack of railroad track maintenance. During the participatory consultation, the population stressed that improving infrastructure was a major priority.

276. Since 1996, the government has been executing the Transport Sector Program (PST) that it prepared with its partners. The program provides a comprehensive framework for investment to rehabilitate the country’s infrastructure and has had some significant achievements: (i) creating a Road Fund (RF) in 1998 to secure resources for road maintenance; (ii) signing a concession contract for the railway; and (iii) liberalizing the maritime sector. The strong growth in the transportation sector is the consequence of favorable economic conditions, including the Chad-Cameroon pipeline project.

277. Additional ongoing reforms include: (i) in rural transport, the preparation and adoption of a rural road rehabilitation and maintenance strategy; (ii) preparation of additional strategies in river and lake transport, taking advantage of Cameroon launching its rural transport program (PTMR); and (iii) strategies aimed at developing transport means and services. The government has also carried out an important reform of the harbor sector.

3.5.1.1 Road infrastructures

278. Road and rural road infrastructure rehabilitation and development are priorities in the government’s poverty reduction strategy. To ensure that the transport and public works sector fully contributes to Cameroon’s development, the government has prepared, specifically for road infrastructure, a transport and public works sector strategy that has achieved the following objectives: (i) defining a priority road network allowing efficient allocation of available resources; (ii) refocusing the state’s mission on planning, programming, and monitoring; (iii) privatizing road maintenance, outsourcing it to SMEs; and (iv) making more efficient use of road network maintenance and development financing.

The Transport and Public Works Sector Strategy

The economic crisis that led to accelerated deterioration of the road network marked the start of a reform process, with the government’s adoption in 1996 of a transport sector strategy aimed at allocating more funds to road maintenance and development. Regarding the road subsector, the strategy has achieved the following:

  • Definition of a priority road network to which most available resources will be allocated;

  • Refocusing of the state’s mission on planning, programming, and monitoring;

  • Privatizing road maintenance, now outsourced to SMEs/SMIs.

In Cameroon, the Transport Sector Program (PST) includes all sector-specific strategies and serves as the framework for all road investments. It is supported by traditional development partners as well as by the Road Management Initiative (RMI) and the Rural Transport Program (PTMR), two programs financed by external partners under World Bank leadership of the Sub-Saharan Transport Policy Program.

Significant results have been achieved, particularly with the 1998 implementation of a Road Fund securing road maintenance resources. This scheme has considerably shortened payment to private enterprises, improved the programming of road maintenance, and helped revitalize private civil engineering and construction firms.

Source: MINTP.

Rural Road Maintenance and Rehabilitation Strategy

As an integral component of the transport sector strategy, the Rural Road Maintenance and Rehabilitation Strategy adopted by the government is based on community participation and the devolution of rural road management to the communes. It is being implemented as an IDA-financed pilot project that tests the sharing of responsibilities for the rehabilitation and maintenance of the priority road network between the central and local governments in the Center, Northwest, and Southern provinces, following a media campaign to raise awareness in the public. The central government will finance the rehabilitation of the network while communes (the bottom echelon in local government) and the beneficiary population will take responsibility for routine road maintenance once the roads have been repaired. Other rural road programs financed by other donors (AFD, AfDB, IDB, and EU) are being implemented under the same strategy, with a goal of rehabilitating about 8,000 kilometers of rural roads within the next few years by the central government, with routine maintenance being provided locally.

In the context of the government’s strategy to strengthen decentralized structures, the communes will assume full ownership of rural roads and become responsible for their maintenance once their rehabilitation has been financed by the central government. Maintenance at the commune level will include small- or medium-scale activities. For efficiency reasons, the communes will outsource maintenance to local SMEs, organizations, or existing associations.

The above provisions are part of a rural road management law project, which will translate into legal terms the rural road management and rehabilitation strategy adopted by the government and supported by all stakeholders, including the central administration, communes, civil society, and donors, following wide consultations at the central and provincial levels.

The law has the following objectives:

  • - Reducing poverty by improving accessibility and standards of living in rural areas;

  • - Bottom-up partnership development, resulting in greater participation of road site populations and road users in the management of rural roads, and particularly in financing, maintaining, and safeguarding them;

  • - Implementing a new institutional framework by: (i) refocusing Ministry of Public Works services on planning, programming, budget management, control and monitoring, and evaluation; (ii) devolving to the rural communes the responsibilities and competencies needed to create and maintain rural roads; (iii) creating rural road management coordination and consultation structures at the provincial level, with municipal councils; (iv) reinforcing the mayors’ prerogative of the public power to prevent, and to institute legal proceedings and punish, any willful damages to the rural road network (following a simplified and accelerated procedure); and

  • - Organizing a sustainable rural road maintenance fund ensuring financial availability and quick and efficient transparent payment procedures.

Source: MINTP.

279. Priority programs. The public works and transport sector strategy is reflected in a number of priority programs in the PRSP. The government intends to (i) extend the trans-African road in NEPAD; (ii) develop a subregional road network in the CAEMC zone; (iii) improve national network trunk roads; and (iv) improve maintenance of the existing network.

280. Program 1: The trans-African road. Cameroon represents a development pole for both subregions because of its strategic position between West and Central Africa. Implementing the former design of the trans-African road is therefore a development priority. The road links Nigeria to Central Africa, crossing Cameroon at Ekok, Mamgé, Bamenda, Bafoussam, Foumban, Nyamboya, Banyo, Tibati, Meidougou, and Garoua-Boulaï.

281. Program 2: CAEMC subregional network. The roads in this network link Cameroon to the neighboring CAEMC countries, including Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Chad, the Central African Republic, and Congo. The main trunk roads are: (i) Ambam-Kyé-Ossi; (ii) Amban-Eking; (iii) Ngaoundere-Touboro-Moundou (Chad); (iv) Garoua-Demsa-Nigeria border; (v) Mora-Limani-Banki (Nigeria); (vi) Sangmélima-Djoum-Congo border; and (vii) Kousséri—N’djaména (Chad).

282. Program 3: National network trunk roads. Good trunk roads are needed to meet the requirements of decentralization (linking the national capital to provincial capitals) and to permit the socioeconomic development of landlocked areas (linking the industrial harbor centers, consumption centers, and tourist sites). It is planned to extend the current paved road network to ensure connection between: (i) the two major urban centers in the country (Douala and Yaoundé) and/or provincial capitals; (ii) department capitals to provincial capitals; and (iii) major rural agricultural production areas to their natural markets, usually urban centers.

283. Program 4: Safeguarding the existing road network system. The existing road system should be maintained to ensure its sustainability and functionality. Therefore, rural roads have a high priority. In the New Rural Road Maintenance Strategy (NRRMW), road maintenance will be devolved to deconcentrated entities with a greater involvement of beneficiary populations. The strategy departs from the policies governing other road networks, in that it is more community-based and decentralized, and focuses on implementing labor-intensive activities. These also improve the accessibility of villages, plantations, and factories, facilitate the collection of agricultural products and the shipment thereof to markets and urban centers, and promote the supply of consumable and agricultural or industrial inputs to rural areas.

284. Auxiliary measures will be included in the rural road project, organizing the training of road site populations as well as road maintenance committees responsible for routine maintenance of the rehabilitated network, allowing effective control over the road network by local governments.

3.5.1.2 River and lake transportation

285. River and lake transportation has witnessed a strong development in areas where rivers and lakes are navigable. It is one of the most important means of transportation as it ensures the mobility of people in these areas and is virtually the only means of transportation for their freight. However, it is still penalized by poor lending, loading and unloading arrangements, and the lack of organized docking, resulting in the deterioration and loss of goods.

286. To correct these deficiencies, the government’s strategy in this area will: (i) create a structure to define and support the river and lake transportation development policy; (ii) formulate, in consultation with the private sector, a well-adapted legal and regulatory framework to improve the management and organization of such transportation; (iii) launch a pilot project, in partnership with the private sector; (iv) plan a strategic investment program; and (v) put in place a monitoring and evaluation scheme to better focus, organize, stimulate, and manage the supply of and demand for river and lake transport. Similarly, the government will finalize a strategy to promote less costly intermediate community transportation.

3.5.1.3 Port activities

287. The Douala harbor has a capacity of 7.5 million metric tons per year, which could be extended to 10 million. The volume of traffic was about 6.3 million metric tons in 2002, with an average growth rate of 8 percent per annum since 1994. The port has a strategic position at the bottom of the Gulf of Guinea that allows it to play an essential role in all Central African countries.

288. A large port reform program is being implemented to strengthen port performance. The key features of the reform include major institutional restructuring and infrastructure modernization and rehabilitation activities, as well as the transfer of management responsibilities for part of the industrial and commercial sectors to the private sector. These activities include the operation, management, and maintenance of the modernized container terminal in the port of Douala as well as towage and marine services in the port. The reform has been complemented by the establishment of a single processing window for external trade (GUCE) to reduce product handling and transit costs.

3.5.2 Construction and public works

289. The government will take appropriate measures to promote this branch of industry to substantially reduce construction costs in Cameroon. Emphasis will be placed on (i) improving the subsector’s efficiency (raw material processing, manufacturing and import of cement products and structural iron, etc.); (ii) enhancing the professionalism of SMEs/SMIs engaged in construction and promoting subcontracting to local SMEs/SMIs through international consortiums and other protective measures; (iii) promoting quality assurance in construction; (iv) initiating nationwide programs (social housing, roads, harbors, airports, etc.) to step up the contribution of construction and public works to GDP growth; (v) developing the subsector labor pool; and (vi) promoting new ways to finance infrastructure, including management or concession contracts relating to public/private partnerships developed for major public works.

3.5.3 Natural resources and environment

290. As Cameroon is richly endowed with natural resources, it has the potential to become self-sufficient in energy. This potential should be developed to stimulate economic development and reduce poverty.

3.5.3.1 Mining and power

291. In the mining sector, several deposits have been identified. Despite the promulgation of the mining code and its implementing provisions, investment continues to be scarce. The government will consequently make the new legislative and regulatory framework more attractive for large-scale investments in the sector. To this end, the authorities will finalize studies to make available specific information on the real potential of existing deposits and on prospecting for new deposits.

292. Promulgation of the mining and gas codes by the government clearly demonstrates its willingness to develop both sectors. In the area of solid mining, the new code guarantees the operator investment safety and provides incentives for the exploration and development phases. All those measures are designed to increase the chances of developing Cameroon’s mining resources.

293. In the hydrocarbons sector, proven reserves and oil production are steadily decreasing. However, as part of the effort to implement a new oil code, the government will pursue oil prospecting on the mainland and in the open sea. In the oil product subsector, the regulatory framework will also introduce competition in the downstream activities of the oil sector, which will result in job creation in the medium and long term through the promotion of local small- and medium-sized enterprises and industries (SMEs/SMIs). For efficiency purposes, the government will adopt a package of measures seeking to: (i) elucidate the role of the various operators involved in the hydrocarbons sector; and (ii) promote prospecting and private investment in the sector.

294. As regards the electricity subsector, despite the privatization of the power utility, Société Nationale d’Electricité (SONEL) and the existence of a legal and regulatory framework liberalizing and introducing competition in the electricity subsector, the supply of electrical energy and the quality of service rendered to the public in general still have huge shortcomings. In the face of such difficulties, the government has opted for a strategy aimed at: (i) facilitating maximum development of the existing potential, through appropriate incentives giving priority to basic hydroelectricity, additional natural gas, and renewable energy for remote areas not yet connected to the interconnected grid; and (ii) making sector management more transparent and efficient.

295. A new institutional framework was established with the creation of the Agence de Régulation du Secteur de l’Electricité (ARSEL) and the Agence d’Electrification Rurale (AER). The new framework opens the way for competition in the electricity sector. The specifications for the agreement governing the concession of SONEL provide for substantial investment to meet the high demand for electrical energy at a time when large-scale industrial investment projects are under consideration. At that level, the contribution of the government in its capacity as grantor is essential for the success of the investments.

296. On the basis of the different options open to the nation, the government will look into the best methods of supplying energy to the productive sector as well as to households. The authorities therefore plan, in the medium and long term, to build hydroelectric power plants, thermal stations, and ministations or other plants in areas outside the interconnected grid.

3.5.3.2 Water and sanitation

297. Problems of village water engineering and access to safe drinking water appeared to be a major handicap to the grassroots populations, according to the findings of the participatory consultations. Besides the main urban centers where coverage in safe drinking water is still to be improved, the rural world is still confronted with an acute water problem because of the adverse geoecological situation of certain regions and lack of an appropriate policy for the sector. Access to safe drinking water is low considering the average per capita income in Cameroon. It was estimated at 86.2 percent in urban areas and 31.3 percent for rural areas in 2001.

298. Faced with that situation with multifaceted repercussions (impact on public health, output, and agropastoral methods and techniques), the government has undertaken to implement a series of reforms, including the privatization of the Water Corporation (SNEC), which constitutes one of the major components. Such reforms are designed to promote access for all to safe drinking water by 2025 by substantially reinforcing the water supply projects approved under the “Rural Water Supply II” Program.

299. That program seeks to: (i) substantially improve the current coverage rate of the rural areas in terms of safe drinking water and raise the access rate to 75 percent by 2015; (ii) make adequate sanitation services available for the protection and evaluation of the quality and quantity of water, taking into account the protection of the natural ecosystem, public health, and human resource development, and (iii) to identify objective and relevant indicators for the programming and integrated management of safe drinking water and sanitation projects.

300. Besides extension and rehabilitation of the safe drinking water supply plants and pipe-borne water programs, drilling of boreholes and wells will, as a matter of priority, be accelerated in underprivileged areas. The specific medium-term objective is to implement a program for the production and distribution of safe drinking water in 113 secondary and densely populated semi-urban centers.

301. On the basis of available studies as well as hydrogeological considerations and the various ongoing programs jointly implemented with various development partners, a comprehensive program for the construction of boreholes and mini water supply systems was launched with HIPC funding. In FY03, considered a pilot period, it is also envisaged to acquire mobile water stations capable of supplying safe drinking during emergencies (severe water shortages in built-up areas and health facilities, severe drought, epidemics, civil and humanitarian incidents, volcanic eruptions, floods). Simultaneously, a safe drinking water supply program is envisaged for schools and health centers throughout the national territory. That program will be backed by a package of sanitation measures principally in urban and semi-urban areas, focusing on wastewater treatment, extension of the primary sanitation network, and the construction of new water purification plants.

3.5.3.3 Environment

302. Cameroon enjoys a striking ecological, cultural, and anthropological diversity. Nearly 90 percent of African ecosystems are represented there and are divided into vast Sahelian, Sudanese, forest, mountain, marine, and coastal zones. Development of those ecosystems has always been conducted in a disorganized manner, thus resulting in the destruction of vast ecosystems in the last few decades. Such damage primarily derives from diverse phenomena provoked and sustained by conscious or unconscious action by man—poaching, overgrazing, uncontrolled bush fires, and shifting agriculture.

303. Cameroon has among the richest, most diverse wildlife on the African continent, including about 409 species of mammals, 183 species of reptiles, 849 species of birds, 190 species of amphibians, and 39 species of butterflies. In order to preserve certain ecosystems, Cameroon opted for management of biodiversity through a network of protected areas. All the wildlife reserves in 2002 covered about 14 percent of the national territory, or 6,656,000 hectares. Among other facilities, the network includes ten national parks, six wildlife reserves, one wildlife sanctuary, three zoological gardens, 35 hunting zones, ten hunting zones under community management, etc.

304. In Cameroon, forests covering over 22 million hectares have been exploited for several decades now for lumber, timber, and firewood. Other nonligneous resources such as its wildlife and other forest products have been as well. That kind of exploitation does not go without perceptible impact on the environment. As a matter of fact, the forest is receding by about 100,000 hectares per annum.

305. In respect of biodiversity, in the last several decades Cameroon has recorded significant damage to its ecosystems (marine and coastal, humid tropical forest, and wooded tropical savannah notably) following the unsustainable exploitation of its biological resources. Such exploitation is due among other things to: (i) destructive agricultural, forestry, and pastoral practices; (ii) population pressure; and (iii) overexploitation of forest, water, wildlife, and floral resources.

306. Despite the existence of a Framework Law on environmental management and the adoption of the poaching control strategy included as part of the Emergency Plan of Action, coupled with the establishment of an Interministerial Environment Committee, poaching and biodiversity degradation still remain acute. To remedy the situation and preserve the various ecosystems, the government formulated a coherent strategy embodying the principles adopted in AGENDA 21 in Rio in 1992.

307. The strategy places emphasis on environmental appraisals, notably the impact studies required for any project pertaining to development, engineering works, equipment, or installation liable to damage the environment, as well as on environmental audits. Furthermore, the government has formulated a biodiversity strategy and an associated action plan. Implementation of that action plan will help promote sustainable management and exploitation of the various ecosystems and thereby (i) comply with international conventions, regional agreements, and sector plans on biodiversity, such as the International Convention on Intervention in the High Seas, the Kano Convention, the National Forestry Plan; and (ii) draw up a contingency plan for the management of hydrometeorological and/or geophysical disasters, etc.

3.6 ACCELERATING REGIONAL INTEGRATION WITHIN CAEMC

308. Cameroon constitutes a pole of growth within CAEMC. The country will pursue an openness and cooperation strategy within CAEMC in order to broaden the scope of markets while ensuring the overall competitiveness of the zone in relation to the rest of the world. The openness policy may induce a host of multiplier effects and, depending on the nature of their impact on the various countries, increase the stability and intensity of growth. Cameroon undertakes to maintain fiscal discipline as required by the convergence criteria, to enhance the depth of its financial and interbank markets, and to improve the physical infrastructure to allow for better integration of the labor, goods, and capital markets. Cameroon intends to rely on NEPAD in order to revitalize the regional integration process.

3.6.1 Macroeconomic Policies

309. Monetary policy. The government of Cameroon has undertaken to pursue efforts toward the modernization of the monetary policy within CAEMC, to achieve greater market liberalization. That policy must be reflected in (i) the progressive elimination of direct advances from the Central Bank to states with effect from 2003 (by one-tenth per annum over the next 10 years); and (ii) the creation of a regional state securities and private bond market. The government is determined to effectively implement the new exchange regulations in the CAEMC zone, particularly the devolution of authority for the management of foreign transactions from the public administrations to the commercial banks.

310. Fiscal Policy. To encourage the harmonization of development policies within the CAEMC zone, the member states have adopted macroeconomic convergence criteria. In keeping with these criteria: (i) the budget balance of each member state must be positive or nil by 2004; (ii) the overall public debt of each member country must not exceed 70 percent of GDP by 2004; (iii) domestic and external payments arrears must not be allowed to accumulate and must be eliminated by 2004; and (iv) the annual inflation rate in each country must not exceed 3 percent. Efforts are underway to secure tax harmonization in the zone, notably by introducing and harmonizing the value-added tax (VAT).

CAEMC Convergence Criteria

  • - Positive budget balance by 2004;

  • - Overall public debt below 70 percent of GDP;

  • - Nonaccumulation of payment arrears and settling existing arrears by 2004;

  • - Annual inflation rate lower than 3 percent.

  • (1) The basic budgetary balance excludes grants and externally financed investment.

  • (2) The public debt is the sum of the short- and long-term domestic and external debt.

  • (3) The accumulation of payment arrears is the sum of domestic and external arrears.

  • (4) The inflation rate is the growth rate of the consumer price index.

3.6.2 Trade policies

311. Trade policy and the Customs Union: In this regard, Cameroon will play a key role in defining an action plan to eliminate the shortcomings observed during implementation of the 1994 tax and customs reform (complexity of customs procedures, weaknesses in the transit system, etc.) and the informal border constraints (presence of numerous unofficial roadblocks). The government will review nontariff barriers in order to encourage a second reform aimed at streamlining and further liberalizing trade systems and introducing possible harmonization with neighboring regional groupings. In particular, Cameroon is committed to: (i) playing a major role in reinforcing regional integration within the BEAC zone through a substantial reduction in the common external tariff (to a maximum of 20 percent) and in the number of categories (from 5 to 4); (ii) specifying the practical and operational modalities of the common Investment Charter within CAEMC; and (iii) accelerating the establishment of the Community Development Fund (FODEC), as well as fostering cooperation with other Member States.

3.6.3 Financial policy

312. The government has just completed the reorganization of the system. Single-tier approval will henceforth help banks open branches in any member country. The government will pursue efforts to improve financial deepening through: (i) the implementation of reforms in the payment system (supported by IDA); and (ii) application of the regional legislation on microfinance adopted by COBAC. Furthermore, the government intends to speed up the operational phase of the Douala Securities Exchange. Efforts are underway to set up a common framework.

3.6.4 Infrastructure

313. Road transport: The CAEMC has drawn up a transportation master plan targeting the construction and rehabilitation of over 10,000 kilometers of roads by 2006 to link four of five capital cities within the zone. Links with Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo (2,000 kilometers) will be established after 2006. Several donors (EU, ADB, World Bank, AFD, etc.) which have been involved in funding the road network for a number of years would support the extension projects.

314. In more concrete terms, the objective is the construction of asphalted roads in the medium term to facilitate traffic flow from one country to another. Cases in point are (i) the Cameroon—Central African Republic highway, with the construction of the Bertoua—Garoua-Boulaï road covering a distance of 247 kilometers, which has been operational for over a year; (ii) the Cameroon-Chad highway, with the construction of the Ngaoundere (Cameroon)—Moundou (Chad) road covering a distance of 393 kilometers, including 265 kilometers within Cameroonian territory. This road functions on the principle of rail and road complementarities; (iii) the regional Gabon-Cameroon and Cameroon-Equatorial Guinea highways, with the proposed construction of two bridges, one spanning the Ntem River at Eboro, along the Yaoundé-Libreville highway; the other spanning the Ngoazik River along the Cameroon-Equatorial Guinea highway. The recent inauguration of the Nsimalen-Ebolowa highway in 2002 constitutes a decisive step toward linking Yaoundé to border towns in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea by asphalted roads.

315. Maritime/River transportation. Cameroon is in the process of completing institutional port reforms and transferring industrial and commercial activities to the private sector. Reduced costs and shorter delays will help improve competitiveness, benefiting all the countries of the subregion, notably the Central African Republic and Chad.

316. Air transportation. The liberalization of air transportation will be progressively implemented in accordance with the framework established by the Yamoussoukro Decision (2000). In particular, Cameroon will abide by ICAO rules to improve air transportation safety. Furthermore, studies and consultations are underway for the creation of a subregional airline.

317. Telecommunications. In an effort to consolidate the achievements toward economic and social integration, CAEMC Member States decided to promote the interconnection of their telecommunications networks. The Terms of Reference for the feasibility studies on the interconnection of the Telecommunications Networks of CAEMC Member States were adopted in August 2002. A Community Telecommunications Code is under formulation.

3.6.5 Labor market

318. Convinced that subregional integration is an effective strategy for its insertion into an increasingly global economy, Cameroon and the other CAEMC Member States agreed to accelerate a number of actions, including the immediate introduction of the CAEMC passport and the elimination of all impediments to the free movement of persons, goods, services, and capital.

3.6.6 Areas for sector cooperation

319. Forestry. Cameroon will reinforce regional cooperation in the sustainable conservation and management of the forests in Central Africa through COFIMAC, which is responsible for ensuring the proper implementation of forestry policies, conservation, and the protection of protected trans-border zones.

320. Health. As part of HIV/AIDS control efforts, the government will focus among other things on the regional road and river transportation corridors (particularly the Congo-Ubangi river corridor and Lake Chad). The actions will be supported by the UNAIDS program and the AfDB.

321. Education. Cameroon undertakes to maintain its support for subregional training institutions, namely, the Ecole Inter-Etats des Douanes (EIED) (Customs); the Institut Sous-régional multisectoriel de technologie appliquée, de planification et d’évaluation de projets (ISTA) (economic planning); and the Institut Sous-régional de Statistique et d’Economie Appliquée (ISSEA) (statistics).

322. Tourism. A Permanent Tourism Commission was created within the CAEMC. This Commission is responsible for all matters pertaining to tourism and especially for formulating any measures to promote tourism in the CAEMC zone.

3.7 STRENGTHENING HUMAN RESOURCES AND THE SOCIAL SECTOR

323. The population of Cameroon is estimated at 15.5 million inhabitants in 2002, with an average age of about 22. It is thus an essentially young population which is growing at an average annual rate of 3 percent. At that rate, it is expected to reach about 24 million by 2015. This rapid growth will require the accelerated creation of wealth in order to meet the basic needs of the population and facilitate access by all to essential basic social services.

324. Faced with this challenge, the government intends to promote the national population policy that was revised and adopted in March 2002. That policy seeks to achieve a suitable match between population growth, progressive human resource development, and the available accessible resources. The policy primarily seeks: (i) improvement in the health status of the population in general, and that of mothers and children in particular; (ii) the promotion of basic education for all, and especially for girls; (iii) intensification of the fight against unemployment; (iv) promotion of gender equality and equity; (v) environmental preservation; and (vi) improvement of the conditions necessary for safeguarding the well-being of the family and the individual, thereby ensuring personal advancement.

325. Beyond those social objectives, the human resource development strategy constitutes the lynchpin of the private sector growth and support strategy. It seeks to enhance Cameroon’s human capital and thus improve the overall competitiveness of the economy. To that end, the government created a Ministerial Department in August 2002 and will step up investment in technical education and vocational training. The development of vocational skills will require improving technical and vocational training that is essentially oriented toward the aforementioned sectors to be developed. Institutional mechanisms will be introduced to encourage greater private sector involvement in the formulation and implementation of training programs, including specific measures for vocational capacity building. Those guidelines are reflected in sector strategies and programs, particularly in the education and health sectors, as set forth below.

3.7.1 Education and training

326. The educational strategy seeks to attain the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), namely to raise the primary school access and completion rates to 100 percent by 2015 and to improve the girl/boy parity index to 1 over the same period.

Table 18:

Millennium Development Goals in Education (%)

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Source: Ministry of Education, Sector Strategy, 2000.

327. The findings of the 2001 Cameroon Household Survey (ECAM II) and the information gathered during the participatory consultation highlighted the importance of education and technical and vocational training as a decisive factor in poverty reduction. This being so, the government adopted a sector strategy for education in October 2000, seeking to achieve the following objectives: (i) improve access to education while correcting disparities; (ii) increase the quality of education provided; (iii) develop efficient partnership with the private sector and civil society; and (iv) improve the management and governance of the education system.

328. The strategy is focused on: (i) universal primary education; (ii) improved access and equity at the other levels of education; (iii) improved quality and relevance of the curricula; and (iv) improved management and governance.

329. Early childhood (subprogram 3): The government intends to promote preschool education and to encourage initiatives in favor of its community-based development in order to prepare children for subsequent learning. To that end, the government would: (i) increase educational facilities, especially in rural areas; (ii) involve local communities, NGOs, communities, and families in the funding of preschool education; (iii) diversify nursery school premises coupled with integrated, flexible programs; and (iv) train teachers and conduct effective monitoring and supervision of the functioning of preschool facilities.

330. Primary education (subprogram 4): To make this level of education universal, the government will take measures to increase education supply and boost education demand, especially for girls, through: (i) the construction and rehabilitation of school buildings; and (ii) the recruitment of and in-service continuing education for teachers. The government also encourages the enrollment of all children of school age and, jointly with certain development partners (UNICEF, UNESCO, NGOs, etc.), will mount an awareness and information campaign sensitizing parents and communities on the benefits of educating all children. This will go in tandem with poverty reduction.

Figure 1.
Figure 1.

Objectives, Priorities, and Programs for the Education Strategy, by Sector

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2003, 249; 10.5089/9781451808056.002.A001

Source: MENEDUC

331. General secondary education (subprogram 5): The main measures to be adopted will focus on increasing the number of classrooms and recruiting a sufficient number of teachers. The measures will help to: (i) increase the number of admissions into the primary cycle; and (ii) consolidate the partnership with the private sector, notably with regard to the increase in the number of classrooms and the improved management of private institutions, within the framework of a Secondary Education Law currently under preparation.

332. Curtailment of the dropout rate (subprogram 6), improvement of the quality of teaching (subprogram 7), and curriculum review (subprogram 8): In 2001/02, as previously observed (paragraph 2.4.1), the survival rate at the end of primary education is 56 percent whereas the access level in the first grade is 95 percent. Repeaters account for 25 percent in primary education, 21 percent in the lower cycle of general secondary education, and 31 percent in the higher cycle of general secondary education. The initial financial projections established from the education policy choices currently implemented by the Ministry of National Education clearly show the long-term budget unsustainability of such a strategy. Aware of the limits of such a policy, the government of Cameroon is in the process of preparing new policies to enhance the effectiveness of education spending and still achieve MDG targets.

Financial Cost of the Status Quo Policy in the Education Sector

The government devised a tool for performing simulations of the medium-term prospects for education and funding of the sector. The simulations show major budgetary imbalances in the absence of policy or educational measures to improve access, internal efficiency, the quality of instruction, and management and governance within the system. In this context, the cost of achieving the MDG objectives would call for additional funding on the order of CFAF 43 billion in 2003, and roughly CFAF 100 billion in 2011. Mobilizing funding to meet those needs would prove very difficult.

Source: MINEDUC.

333. Among other things, these policies address reducing grade repetition rates and increasing the transition rate from primary to secondary education, with the set objective of lowering the repetition rate, as soon as practicable, to a threshold of 10 percent at each education level (compared to average rates of 25 percent in primary education, 21 percent in the first cycle of secondary education, and 31 percent in the second cycle of secondary education). This presupposes the implementation of “activist” policies in both administrative and pedagogical areas.

  • In primary education, the authorities intend to review the evaluation and certification systems through the creation of three subcycles (SIL/ Cl 1 + CP/ Cl 2, CE 1/ Cl 3 + CE2/ Cl 4, CM1/ Cl5 + CM2/ Cl 6/ Cl 7). In this context, the content of curricula is structured over two years of study without any possibility of repeating two classes in the same subcycle. Teachers will be provided with educational tools for formative evaluation, to help them monitor the progress made by their students during the cycle and provide assistance to slow learners; for summary evaluation purposes, at the end of each subcycle a yardstick is applied so that access to the new subcycle may be properly regulated, based on relevant learning. The accompanying measures for this arrangement are: (i) revision of teaching methods; (ii) application of differentiated educational methods (remedial teaching and assistance to slow learners); (iii) systematizing the measurement of student educational achievements; (iv) reducing class size to a maximum of 50 students in the short term and to 47 by 2011; (v) assigning qualified, experienced teachers to classes in the first and last subcycles; (vi) the improvement of in-service continuing education for teachers; (vii) providing students and teachers with textbooks and instructional materials; and (viii) the formulation of a community-based early childhood development policy, etc.

  • Secondary education under the Education Orientation Law provides for two cycles of studies (the first cycle is limited to 5 years, the first two years of which are devoted to observation, and a second two-year cycle: 1ère/lower sixth and terminale/upper sixth). The authorities contemplate: (i) reinforcement of school counselling and guidance to help steer students with obvious skills for this type of education toward technical and vocational education; and (ii) increased accountability in schools in general, and in the education community at large, as part of the educational projects included in School Councils.

334. Technical and vocational education. Until 2002, the education strategy was characterized by the absence of a national development policy in the technical and vocational education subsector. In August 2002, a Ministry of Technical Education and Vocational Training was created. It is currently formulating a sector strategy to implement a national technical education and vocational training policy. Its key missions consist in:

  • Producing, in addition to the school map, a mapping of existing investment opportunities in human capital based on proven potential for socioprofessional integration;

  • Creating specific pilot technical and vocational training institutions by ecological zone, to take advantage of opportunities offered by the environment;

  • Re-examining the training certificate award strategy with a view to establishing a partnership with professional societies, corporations, and guilds;

  • Reorganizing the rural crafts/domestic science sections (SAR/SM) in order to foster a breeding ground for rural entrepreneurs and curb the rural exodus;

  • Readjusting training programs and courses, in concert with socioprofessional circles, civil society, and national and foreign partners;

  • Formulating and implementing an advanced training plan for staff and workers;

  • Conducting studies on training needs for the labor market;

  • Building the capacity of existing structures by equipping the workshops in Technical Schools and Vocational Training Centers;

  • Modernizing technical education and vocational training through the creation of highly efficient training institutions adapted to the needs of the regions;

  • Raising public awareness, through diverse techniques including information, education and communication (IEC), of the role and importance of technical education and vocational training, in order to dispel the derogatory perception of technicians’ skills.

335. Efficient partnership (subprograms 11 to 14), which is already reflected in the management of educational institutions and will be further developed, particularly in the areas of technical education, technology and vocational training, and the promotion of private education. To this end, government will mount an awareness, information, and training campaign among the various partners (parents, local communities, NGOs, religious denominations, trade unions, private promoters, development associations, donors, etc.), with a view to evolving a platform codifying the contribution of each partner in school projects in the framework of School Boards.

336. The government will build on the comparative advantages of the private sector to establish private educational institutions throughout the country to improve access to education and equity, and to enhance the quality and relevance of universal education. To this end, the government will strengthen the already existing cooperation with private promoters involved in education and training activities through the following measures: (i) simplification of procedures for founding private schools; (ii) making set tuition fees affordable to parents; (iii) offering incentives for the creation of private schools in rural areas; and (iv) broadening the scope of state intervention through multifaceted support ranging from subsidies for the transfer of teachers from public to private institutions to the improvement of educational infrastructure. In addition, the government will negotiate the debt incurred by the private education sector with the National Social Insurance Fund (Caisse Nationale de Prévoyance Sociale (CNPS)) and the Tax Administration, after prior auditing of the debt.

337. Management and governance (subprograms 15 to 17). The government will devote particular attention to promoting good governance in the educational sector, notably through the deconcentration and decentralization of resource management, participatory management, cost control, and institutional capacity building in the education sector. To this end, the competent authorities have issued directives including: (i) setting up a career development administration; (ii) transferring teachers and physical education/sports instructors’ career management from the Civil Service Ministry to the Ministry of National Education; (iii) improving the information system in the Ministry of National Education by drawing up a school map and regularly publishing a statistical directory of the education sector; (iv) including statistics courses and school record-keeping as part of teacher-training programs; (v) ensuring the regular production of management statistics at all levels of the educational system; (vi) facilitating access to new information and communications technologies within the educational system; and (vii) reinforcing the supervisory and evaluation structures in the Ministry of National Education.

338. Higher education. Conscious of the role and place of higher education as a laboratory for “know how” and considering the spiraling number of students, the government created five additional state universities following the 1993 reform: Yaoundé (Soa), Douala, Buea, Dschang, and Ngaoundere, thus bringing the total number of state universities to six. The basic orientations of the reform are as follows:

  • Participation of various partners in the management and funding of higher education;

  • The greatest possible autonomy in academic matters and management;

  • Equal access to higher education for all Cameroonians;

  • Professionalism and increased education supply;

  • Multidisciplinary and deconcentrated education;

  • Opening up to the local, regional, national, and international environment;

  • Efficient use of the existing infrastructure and available resources; revitalization of interuniversity and international cooperation.

339. Furthermore, in consultation with socioprofessional circles the authorities devised a regulatory framework leading to the founding of a number of private higher education institutions. On the basis of problems identified in the higher education and vocational training subsectors, the authorities plan jointly with the private sector and civil society to: (i) improve access to, and the quality and the relevance of instruction in, all the universities through the rehabilitation and construction of academic and social infrastructure, notably lecture rooms, auditoriums, university dormitories, tutorial and practical work rooms, laboratories, and libraries; (ii) set up a network built on information and communications technology in order to reinforce interuniversity and international exchanges; (iii) grant franchises for university services such as lodgings, restaurants, and transportation; (iv) develop programs adjusted to meeting the new needs of the labor market and facing the changes occurring in the modern world; and (v) control Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and HIV/AIDS in universities.

Sector Strategy for Education

Economic recovery, which brought about an increase in the budgetary allocation to the education sector (23.1 percent of the state budget in 1999/2000), helped the government to adopt measures aimed at making this sector one of the engines of growth and poverty reduction. Thus, in 2000/2001 the gross enrollment ratio was estimated at around 99 percent (90 percent for girls) and the net ratio was around 78 percent (67 percent for girls). The school access rate was about 95 percent and the completion rate about 56 percent. Major efforts were made to mitigate the constraints associated with the demand for education. In addition, there is a slight increase in preschool, primary, and secondary school enrollment as well as a slight reduction in regional disparities in education.

Furthermore, a number of actions were taken and others are being implemented, notably:

  • provisions for optional approaches (purchases, subsidies, etc.) under the national textbooks policy;

  • providing educational materials to all public primary schools;

  • STD and HIV/AIDS control campaign in schools;

  • The elimination of school fees in public primary schools (measure in force since the beginning of the 2000/2001 academic year) and allocation to schools, at the beginning of each academic year, of the required minimum (minimum package) of instructional materials;

  • construction and rehabilitation of classrooms in public primary and secondary schools, with focus on priority education zones (ZEPs);

  • elimination of CEPER’s monopoly in textbook publishing and distribution;

  • creation of a Conseil National d’Agrément (National Approval Board) for textbooks and instructional material), whose members have been appointed;

  • the launching (in order to build the 2,500 new classrooms required to reach the completion point for the HIPC Initiative) of construction of 1,145 classrooms under the Public Investment Budget (BIP) for FY00/01 and FY01/02; other HIPC—funded construction is planned;

  • recruitment of 1, 260 temporary teachers (IVAC) under HIPC funding during FY01/02;

  • integration of 1, 700 temporary teachers into the civil service in the Ministry of National Education;

  • formulation, with a view to multifaceted partnership with private education, of draft laws and decrees and implementing provisions relating to this category of education. Finalization of the draft laws will require detailed analysis during a consultative workshop prior to introduction in the official channels for adoption, signing, and promulgation;

  • formulation and publication of a statistical directory for 2000/01 and paving the way for the systematic local production of school statistics on a decentralized basis, followed by the production of provincial and national school maps;

  • formulation and signing of legislation on the implementation of the special status of the teaching profession;

  • formulation and signing of a new organizational chart for the Ministry of National Education, providing for decentralized staff management. Henceforth, career management, postings, and promotions, for instance, will be conducted at provincial level. Implementation of the new arrangements is being carried out under the SIGIPES program.

  • distribution of textbooks to students and teachers in priority education areas;

  • allocation of generic drugs and first aid products to all public and private primary as well as public secondary schools;

  • mounting of awareness and information campaigns to promote enrollment of large numbers of children, with particular emphasis on the ZEPs.

Several other measures are helping to promote the sector revitalization program. These include: (i) measures to reduce regional disparities and gender-based discrimination in access to school; (ii) provision for devolution of responsibilities to the communities (participatory management of schools/institutions); (iv) the construction of water supply points and latrines in schools; (v) control of STIs and HIV/AIDS in the school environment; and (vi) control of training costs, etc.

Source: MINEDUC

340. The government also plans to: (i) develop continuing and cooperative vocational education in all state universities through increased financing for higher education, diversification of learning opportunities, and the emergence of new technologies; (ii) develop, strengthen, and improve vocational training by taking the needs of companies into account; (iii) promote prospecting and the development of transfer and career enhancement activities; (iv) train and recruit highly qualified teachers and provide them with adequate educational tools and techniques in order to reduce migration to foreign universities; and (v) mobilize private funding in the higher education sector, through incentives.

3.7.2 Health

341. As indicated in the following table, the key health indicators of Cameroon deteriorated between 1991 and 1998.

Table 19:

Target Level in 2015 for Key Health Indicators

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Source: EDS 1991 and 1998; Millennium Summit documents.

342. Therefore, improving the health of the population is certainly a key objective for economic and social development and for poverty reduction. The government expects to do so by implementing the Health Sector Strategy adopted in October 2001.

343. In the context of its efforts to better control diseases, the government of Cameroon intends to reduce the overall morbidity burden attributable to the communicable diseases that so far have been highly prevalent throughout the country. Most of these diseases are preventable through an effective policy combining prevention, information, and treatment. This policy will help fill the wide gap in economic growth resulting from a heavy morbidity burden due particularly to infectious diseases (malaria, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, onchocerciasis etc.) commonly known as diseases of poverty. Controlling these diseases will unleash the productive potential of labor and thereby extend the range of productive opportunities, significantly raising the rate of economic growth.

344. Combating malaria. The government has restructured the National Malaria Control Program by creating the Central Technical Group (GTC) with a Permanent Secretariat as well as provincial units to combat this disease. The program has acquired 150,000 mosquito nets and an equal number of insecticides using HIPC funding. Distribution of these mosquito nets and insecticides to pregnant women began in early 2003, and the Ministry of Health will acquire 660,000 additional mosquito nets and insecticides during the year.

345. On the other hand, the government has adopted a National Anti-Malaria Strategic Plan in line with the “Roll Back Malaria” Initiative, which aims to halve malaria-related morbidity and mortality by the year 2010, particularly among the most vulnerable segments of the population (children under 5 and pregnant women). To this end, the government plans to: (i) improve the quality of care and treatment; (ii) intensify vector control; (iii) train personnel; (iv) promote malaria control; (v) develop partnerships; (vi) strengthen operational research; (vii) conduct integrated epidemiological surveillance; and (viii) set up supervision, monitoring, and evaluation mechanisms.

346. Combating STIs and HIV/AIDS. The government has effectively integrated AIDS drugs (ARVs and medicine for treating opportunistic infections) into the national supply and distribution system for essential drugs, reagents, and medical supplies. It also subsidizes antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), whose monthly cost for an individual ranges between CFAF 15,000 and CFAF 28,000 since August 1, 2002 in both the public and private health sector. The national HIV/AIDS control program procures condoms for target groups. Since the beginning of 2003, their distribution has been contracted out to NGOs through partnership agreements. The government has also decentralized the fight against AIDS by establishing an operational Provincial Technical Group (GTP) in each province.

347. The government will also continue implementing the 2000/2005 Anti-AIDS Strategic Plan adopted in September 2000. Its implementation will entail: (i) developing a communication plan involving the public and private media; (ii) raising awareness among youths in schools, at universities, and out of school, women, public and private workers, and persons living in rural areas; (iii) promoting the use of male and female condoms within target populations; (iv) encouraging voluntary testing; (v) creating anonymous prevention and voluntary testing centers in each health district; (vi) extending the national program for reducing mother-to-child HIV transmission; (vii) community participation through dialogue structures and associations; (viii) developing mechanisms for the medical and psychosocial care of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA); (ix) developing a solidarity system for PLWHA; (x) developing and strengthening partnerships (public, private, secular, etc.); (xi) strengthening epidemiological and behavioral surveillance; (xii) capacity building; and (xiii) expanding research.

348. Fighting Tuberculosis. The government has restructured the National Tuberculosis Control Program by creating a GTC with a permanent Secretariat and provincial units. The program has used HIPC funds to acquire drugs. The government has been able to reduce the cost of treatment from an average of CFAF 30,000 to CFAF 5,000 per month. It has also formulated a National Tuberculosis Control Program covering all the 10 provinces, which will be adopted soon. When this plan is implemented, the government will: (i) create a Diagnosis and Treatment Center (DTC) for every 50,000 to 100,000 inhabitants by using the “DOTS” strategy; (ii) enhance technical supervision by involving provincial hospitals; and (iii) build the capacities of other health workers outside DTCs to effectively handle cases.

349. Fighting onchocerciasis. The government will continue implementing the action against onchocerciasis in partnership with NGOs and other partners using the following strategies: (i) distribution of Ivermectine through communities to all persons eligible for treatment in hyper- and meso-endemic zones; (ii) passive distribution of Ivermectine in hypo-endemic zones; (iii) training of staff involved in onchocerciasis control; (iv) development of operational research; and (v) information, education, and communication targeting the population at risk.

350. The Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI). The authorities reorganized this program by creating a Central Technical Group (GTC) with a permanent Secretariat. They will also implement strategies contained in the five-year EPI plan of action centered on: (i) the mobilization of additional resources within the framework of vaccination independence (GAVI); (ii) basic training and in-service training for the health personnel responsible for implementation; (iii) the rehabilitation/renewal of equipment, vehicles, and the cold chain; (iv) development of communication for behavior change; (v) entering into contracts with health districts; (vi) implementing an injection safety policy; (vii) introducing new vaccines such as those against yellow fever and hepatitis B; (viii) strengthening the monitoring and evaluation of program activities; (ix) strengthening EPI management at all levels; and (x) enhancing epidemiological surveillance.

351. Essential drugs, reagents, and medical supplies. The government will improve access to such items by the population by making them available at all health facilities. The government has already reduced the prices of essential drugs, reagents, and supplies by about 40 percent to make them affordable to the population. A substantial supply of essential drugs, acquired under the HIPC program, will help improve their availability at health facilities.

352. To attain its main objectives in the sector, the government will implement the National Pharmaceutical Master Plan by: (i) developing an effective national system for the supply of drugs, reagents, and medical consumables (the SYNAME), with central facilities and branches with decentralized management; (ii) organizing an operational system t