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Speaking of Africa - Spotlight on Cameroon

Africa is a continent consisting of 54 countries. The differences between these countries are sometimes immense. This applies to the mentality of the people, the geography and also the economy. From now on, we want to take a closer look at the countries of the second largest continent in a series of blog posts entitled "Speaking of Africa - Spotlight on...", dispelling a few myths and familiarising readers with the diversity. We start with Cameroon, which is one of the next destinations on the agenda for the rollout of our "Enable Wealth in Africa" mission.

Africa in miniature

Located in Central Africa, the country is often referred to as "Africa in miniature" as it encompasses a variety of landscapes and climate zones. In the south there is tropical rainforest, in the centre and west there are hills and highlands, and in the north there is the Sahel zone. The highest point in the country is Mount Cameroon, an active volcano.

Cameroon is a country with rich natural resources and cultural diversity, but it faces economic and political challenges. The country's geography is impressively varied and the many languages spoken are evidence of a complex social structure. Economically, it is relatively well developed compared to many other African countries, but the distribution of wealth remains a problem. The political situation is not trivial, particularly in terms of governance and due to regional conflicts.

Two official languages - 250 local languages and dialects

Cameroon has two official languages: French and English. These reflect the colonial history in which the former German colony was divided between France and Great Britain after the First World War. There are also over 250 local languages and dialects, making Cameroon one of the most linguistically challenging countries in the world. The confusion of languages already indicates that Cameroon, with its 28 million inhabitants, is not a truly unified country. The population is very young, the median - the value that lies exactly in the centre of a data distribution - is 17.5 years (the median age worldwide is 30.3 years, in Germany 44.9 years).

Politically speaking, Cameroon is a republic, but for decades it has been dominated by a single party, led by President Paul Biya. The 91-year-old Biya has been in office since 1982, making him one of the longest-serving presidents in Africa. The country has struggled with political tensions and conflicts in recent years, particularly in the English-speaking regions, where there are demands for greater autonomy or independence. Presidential elections have been announced for 2025, and Paul Biya's son Franck Emmanuel Olivier Biya is rumoured to be his successor.

Rich natural resources

Cameroon's economy is based on a mixture of agriculture, mining, oil production and services. Important agricultural products are coffee, cocoa, cotton, bananas and palm oil. The country also has significant deposits of crude oil and natural gas, which make up a large part of its exports. In addition, five-time Africa Cup of Nations winner Cameroon also has potential in the tourism sector, although this has not yet been fully utilised. According to the World Bank, those 28 million Cameroonians generated almost 48 billion US dollars in 2022, with growth of four per cent in 2023, which is enough for 27th place in Africa (the continent as a whole grew by 3.9 per cent in 2023). Cameroon is therefore right in the middle. Since 2015, Cameroon's growth has always been above 3.3 per cent, with peaks of 5.7 per cent. Only in the coronavirus year 2019 did it plummet to 0.3 per cent.

Speaking of which, unlike its European counterpart Belgium, Cameroon is the second most successful football nation on the continent after Egypt with seven trophies. That says something about a country that is actually divided when it sticks together in the national team.

Compared to other African countries, Cameroon has a medium income level. It has a relatively stable economy, but there are still major differences in the distribution of wealth. Many people live in poverty, especially in rural areas. Living standards vary greatly between urban and rural regions.

The poorly developed infrastructure in rural areas means that only 54.6% of residents have constant access to water and only 25.6% have access to sanitary facilities. The electrification rate in rural areas is just under 32%, with a strong disparity between urban and rural areas.

Sustainable power generation dominates

Cameroon is very open to renewable energies and currently produces 62% of its electricity from hydropower. Due to its size and population structure - Cameroon's population density is just under 61.6 inhabitants/km 2 (Germany 235.0 inhabitants/km2 ) - grid expansion is the decisive hurdle to giving more people access to electricity and thus to education and prosperity. A decentralised supply with the help of solar systems and micro-grids is therefore predestined to fundamentally improve the situation. Today, solar energy plays virtually no role at all in Cameroon, accounting for 0.2% of electricity generation. With an annual average of 6.3 hours of sunshine per day, the conditions for this are significantly better than in Germany, for example (4.3 hours).

In May 2012, EWIA's partner SunErgy concluded an agreement with the Republic of Cameroon to supply 92 villages with around 115,000 families or 600,000 people as well as schools, health centres, private and public companies etc. in the French-speaking south-west region with solar power. Together with the investment company KGAL, which specialises in infrastructure projects, EWIA intends to intensify its activities in this area.


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