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Understanding Cameroon’s Role as Central Africa’s Business Hub

May 09, 2019
4 min read
Understanding Cameroon’s Role as Central Africa’s Business Hub

Cameroon’s position in the Gulf of Guinea makes it a vital player in Central Africa. With 10,050 miles of the border shared with Nigeria and multiple entry points into the Central African Republic, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, the Republic of Congo, and Gabon, it’s a gateway between Central and West Africa with goods going in every direction.

The seaports of Douala and Limbe are critical to Cameroon’s position, as well as the volume of trade the Kribi deep port is going to bring when it’s completed. The landlocked countries of the Central African Republic and Chad receive most of their imports through Douala, while Chad exports oil through the Cameroon-Chad Pipeline that runs across Cameroon. Wood from Gabon and the Republic of Congo are exported through Cameroon with consumer goods going in the opposite direction.

A key facilitator in trade between Central African countries is a network of roads that carry food and commodities from Cameroon to its neighbors. The Nigeria-Cameroon highway supplies the region, and in the north, Cameroon is in league with Nigeria, Chad, and Niger over trade in the Lake Chad Basin. Central African countries also share a common central bank in BEAC, and a common currency, the Central African Franc CFA. Cameroon is a member of OHADA, a legal framework to harmonize corporate law across Central and West Africa with the aim of facilitating trade between African states and attracting investment.

Cameroon has built strong ties through membership of the Commonwealth and Francophonie. It is the only CEMAC country that has a trade deal with the EU and is the United States’ most reliable partner in the Gulf of Guinea. China has invested heavily in Cameroon’s road infrastructure and is financing the construction of the Kribi seaport. Trade relations with Japan, India, and Thailand ensure goods filter through to Cameroon’s Central African neighbors.
Cameroon’s influence is manifested in policy design in the common CEMAC market. CEMAC has worked over the years to craft laws, reduce tariffs, and encourage free movement of people and capital. For the free flow of people and money to occur, difficulties in the implementation of these policies have to be overcome.

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