By Tansa Musa and Bate Felix
Cameroon's economy is expected to grow by 5.5 percent in 2012 despite the Arab spring and a sovereign debt crisis that has hurt the European zone, the central African nation's most important export partner, a World Bank official said on Monday. Non-oil economic activities particularly growth in the primary and tertiary sectors, which helped Cameroon's economy grow in 2011 to 4.1 percent, will be the main drivers, World Bank's region lead economist Raju Jan Singh, told a news conference. Singh said the economic momentum observed in Cameroon, the Central African region's largest economy and gateway port, was expected to carry over into 2012 due to various infrastructure projects. "Furthermore, the trend in declining oil production is expected to reverse. As a result, Cameroon economic growth could amount to 5.5 percent in 2012," Singh said.
However, oil production contracted by 10 percent in 2011 due to depleting reserves and aging equipment but significant exploration in the last two years will see oil production grow by 15 percent in 2012, Singh said.
Cameroon's oil output has fallen by two-thirds since the 1980s to about 66,000 barrels per day.
The country's President Paul Biya, 78, who won reelection in October, plans to build roads, power plants, and a deep sea port while boosting investments in the mining sector, with the goal of securing emerging market status for the country by 2035.
Aside from its oil, Cameroon, the world's fifth cocoa producer, is the region's main port and breadbasket, supplying Chad, Central African Republic, Congo Republic and Gabon.
The International Monetary Fund has said Cameroon is performing below its potential because of lack of infrastructure and administrative hurdles that were hurting business.
Singh said though Cameroon has improved its ranking in the 2012 Doing Business, moving up seven places compared with 2011, its investment climate remains overall unfavourable to the development of the business sector.//Reuters