Within Cameroonian public opinion, negativism is reflected in comments touching on the country's economy. “We will never be an emerging nation by 2035”, hurls one user in a forum on social media. “Cameroon is only condemned to remain poor”, states another. “Actually, has this country ever known enviable growth?”, questions an academic on the same forum. “It was always poverty”, reckons the person he is talking with.
However, these forum users seem to have a short memory. Because, in 1982, when President Biya assumes the highest office, Cameroon has a healthy economy. Earnings per head is one the highest in Black Africa and puts the country at the middle income level. Annual growth of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which was stagnating at 2% in the 70’s, jumps to 10% at the beginning of the 80’s to stabilise around 7% from 1982. Oil represents then 63% of the total exports, followed by cocoa and coffee.
Only, after the severe economic and financial crisis which Cameroon faced at the end of the 80’s and which led it to adopt adjustment programmes with the Bretton Woods institutions, the growth rate even became negative. But in 1994, with the devaluation of the CFA franc, this growth returned again to positive to reach 3.4% over the 1994-1999 period. Furthermore, the satisfactory execution of the first three-year programme supported by the Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, facilitated the admission of Cameroon to the Heavily Indebted Poor Country Initiative (HIPC) in 1999, which enabled it to benefit from important additional resources to finance its poverty reduction and governance improvement programme. The impact of poverty is significantly reduced between 1996 and 2001, moving from 53.3% to 40.1% during the period.
The government adopted in 2009 the long term economic and social development vision, which defines the directions to make Cameroon an emerging nation by 2035. During the same year, the Strategy Document for Growth and Employment (DSCE), reference framework for government action during the first decade of the Vision was adopted. Its implementation is effective since 2010 particularly the start of major infrastructure projects and production support. The country’s growth rate is currently around 5.9%.