Economy of Cameroon
For a quarter of a century following independence, Cameroon was one of the most prosperous countries in Africa. The drop in commodity prices for its principal exports —petroleum, cocoa, coffee, and cotton — in the mid-1980s, combined with an overvalued currency and economic mismanagement, led to a decade-long recession. Real per capita GDP fell by more than 60% from 1986 to 1994. The current account and fiscal deficits widened, and foreign debt grew. Yet because of its oil reserves and favorable agricultural conditions, Cameroon still has one of the best-endowed primary commodity economies in sub-Saharan Africa.
France is Cameroon's main trading partner and source of private investment and foreign aid. Cameroon has an investment guaranty agreement and a bilateral accord with the United States. USA investment in Cameroon is about $1 million, most of it in the oil sector. Inflation has been brought back under control. Cameroon aims at becoming emerging by 2035. Finance and Banking
Cameroon's financial system is the largest in the CEMAC region. Access to financial services is limited, particularly for SMEs. Aside from a traditional tendency for banks to prefer dealing with large, established companies, determining factors are also found in interest rates for loans to SMEs being capped at 15 percent and being heavily taxed.
Less than 5 percent of Cameroonians have access to a bank account. While the microfinance sector is consequently becoming increasingly important, its development is hampered by a loose regulatory and supervisory framework for microfinance institutions (MFIs). The banking sector is highly concentrated and dominated by foreign commercial banks. 6 out of the 11 largest commercial banks are foreign-owned, and the three largest banks hold more than 50 percent of total financial system assets.
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