flag Cameroon Cameroon: Investing

In this page: FDI in Figures | What to consider if you invest in Cameroon | Procedures Relative to Foreign Investment | Investment Opportunities


FDI in Figures

According to UNCTAD's World Investment Report 2021, FDI inflows to Cameroon, traditionally low compared to the potential of its economy, reached USD 488 million in 2020, a sharp decline from the USD 1027 million recorded in 2019, due to the global health and economic crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic. FDI stocks are estimated to account for USD 9 billion in 2020. According to UNCTAD’ Investment Trends Monitor, global FDI flows rebounded strongly in 2021, but FDI flows to African countries (excluding South Africa) rose only moderately. Most of the FDI comes from the European Union, particularly France and Germany, and targets the mining industry, including oil extraction. However, China has become the main investor in the country, pursuing large infrastructure projects. As part of its growing interest in Africa, China has been investing steadily in Cameroon (with total Chinese direct and indirect investments amounting to USD 2.43 billion in 2016 according to Cameroonian Ministry of Economy), allowing the construction of Kribi Port and Industrial Complex and Memve'ele Hydroelectric Dam. The African Cup of Nations, held at the beginning of 2022, stimulated investments in the sectors of tourism, real estate and infrastructure.

In the World Bank's 2020 Doing Business Report (latest report), Cameroon ranked on the 167th position out of 190 countries. This represents a slight decline from 2019 edition when the country was ranked 166th. Despite this ranking, Cameroon improved access to credit information by establishing a framework through the Central African Economic and Monetary Community for the licensing and operation of credit bureaus (Doing Business). Cameroon’s economy has the potential to become one of the most prosperous countries and among the best placed to receive foreign direct investment in Africa. While the country has many natural resources (oil, forestry, fisheries), as well as fertile land on which to build, it needs to improve and simplify its administration in order to boost entrepreneurship and fight against corruption. Poor infrastructure, weak rule of law and continuing inefficiencies of a large parastatal system in key sectors impede FDI growth. In addition, continuing Islamist insurgency, violence and tensions in the separatist, English-speaking regions negatively impact business climate.

Foreign Direct Investment 201920202021
FDI Inward Flow (million USD) 1,027675850
FDI Stock (million USD) 8,5388,9319,781
Number of Greenfield Investments* 23118
Value of Greenfield Investments (million USD) 1,188206191

Source: UNCTAD - Latest available data.

Note: * Greenfield Investments are a form of Foreign Direct Investment where a parent company starts a new venture in a foreign country by constructing new operational facilities from the ground up.

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What to consider if you invest in Cameroon

Strong Points

The key strong points of the Cameroonian economy are:

  • A long period of political stability under the regime in place
  • Low-cost labour
  • Abundant natural resources (agricultural, oil and mining)
  • A diversified export economy (oil, mining, agriculture, etc.)
  • Many ongoing infrastructure modernisation projects supported by IMF lending
  • Monetary stability because of its membership of the CFA Franc zone
  • The positive impact of the anti-corruption policy
  • Regulation on equity participation, allowing foreigners to own 100% of a company
Weak Points

The main weaknesses of the country are:

  • A complicated business environment as evidenced by its 167th place (out of 190) in the Doing Business ranking of 2020
  • One of the highest tax burdens on the private sector in the world
  • High risk of corruption
  • Lack of infrastructure
  • Risk of high political tension: insecurity in the north at the border with Nigeria, and uncertainty over the succession of President Paul Biya (88 years old and in power since November 1982)
  • Cameroon has trade deficits, relies on food imports, and is therefore exposed to foreign shocks.
Government Measures to Motivate or Restrict FDI
The Cameroonian government has targeted certain sectors as priority sectors for investment: transport, food industry, tourism and rural development. In order to attract more investors, significant programs are being implemented by the public authorities, with the support of financial backers, in order to improve judicial decisions, increase energy supplies, reinforce economic information, simplify procedures, support companies, and ensure the protection of the economic area against illegal threats.

Cameroon also has free trade zones in which all export companies can be set up. The free trade zones are only for the use of companies that produce goods and provide services meant exclusively for export. There are many advantages for such companies: exemption from all licenses, authorisation or quota limitation for both export and import, the possibility of being able to open a foreign currency account, no restrictions on sales operations, purchase of foreign currency, right to transfer profits abroad (25% has to be re-invested in Cameroon), tax and duty exemption for a period of 10 years from the beginning of operations and taxation at a general rate of 15% on profits starting the 11th year.

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Procedures Relative to Foreign Investment

Freedom of Establishment
In Cameroon, there is freedom of starting a trade.
Acquisition of Holdings
Foreign nationals can be 100% owners of a company.
Obligation to Declare
The World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies in the country gives information on the authorizations necessary for implantation.

Nevertheless, the candidate has to satisfy, according to the circumstances, the following conditions :
- to be registered either with the Registry of Commerce or with the Communal Repertory ;
- to have made a declaration of existence ;
- to possess a professional trader's card ;
- to dispose of property and material installations when they are necessary ;
- to respect other professional obligations, especially in tax matters ;
- to obtain a prior authorization (for foreign nationals)

Competent Organisation For the Declaration
Cameroon Info
Government Portal
Requests For Specific Authorisations
For more information, click on Invest in the Franc Zone.

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Latest Update: March 2023