Yaoundé, also spelled Yaunde, city and capital of Cameroon. It is situated on a hilly, forested plateau between the Nyong and Sanaga rivers in the south-central part of the country. Founded in 1888 during the period of the German protectorate, Yaoundé was occupied by Belgian troops in 1915 and was declared the capital of French Cameroon in 1922. From 1940 to 1946 it was replaced as the capital by Douala, but after independence it became the seat of the government of Cameroon in 1960, of the federal government in 1961, and of the united republic in 1972.
It has a population of more than 2.8 million, and is the second-largest city in the country after the port city Douala. It lies in the Centre Region of the nation at an elevation of about 750 metres (2,500 ft) above sea level.
Data and Facts
- Cameroon is the second most linguistically diverse nation after Nigeria, with 287 living languages including colonial versions
- Yaoundé is in the Guinness World Records as the site for the largest business lesson. It was on August 6, 2016 that Freedom Faithnet Global conducted a business lesson attended by 2,464 people in Cameroon’s capital city
- Cameroon is often known as "Africa in miniature" because of its geographical and cultural diversity
The National Assembly makes legislation. The body consists of 180 members who are elected for five-year terms and meet three times per year. Laws are passed on a majority vote. Rarely has the assembly changed or blocked legislation proposed by the president.
The 1996 constitution establishes a second house of parliament, the 100-seat Senate, was established in April 2013 and is headed by a President of the Senate who is the constitutional successor in case of untimely vacancy of the Presidency of the Republic. The government recognises the authority of traditional chiefs, fons, and lamibe to govern at the local level and to resolve disputes as long as such rulings do not conflict with national law.
The president appoints judges at all levels. The judiciary is officially divided into tribunals, the court of appeal, and the supreme court. The National Assembly elects the members of a nine-member High Court of Justice that judges high-ranking members of government in the event they are charged with high treason or harming national security.
Cameroon is viewed as rife with corruption at all levels of government. In 1997, Cameroon established anti-corruption bureaus in 29 ministries, but only 25% became operational, and in 2012, Transparency International placed Cameroon at number 144 on a list of 176 countries ranked from least to most corrupt. On 18 January 2006, Biya initiated an anti-corruption drive under the direction of the National Anti-Corruption Observatory. There are several high corruption risk areas in Cameroon, for instance, customs, public health sector and public procurement. Numerous regional political groups have since formed. The primary opposition is the Social Democratic Front , based largely in the Anglophone region of the country and headed by John Fru Ndi.
Biya and his party have maintained control of the presidency and the National Assembly in national elections, which rivals contend were unfair. Human rights organisations allege that the government suppresses the freedoms of opposition groups by preventing demonstrations, disrupting meetings, and arresting opposition leaders and journalists. In particular, English-speaking people are discriminated against; protests often escalate into violent clashes and killings. In 2017, President Biya shut down the Internet in the English-speaking region for 94 days, at the cost of hampering five million people, including Silicon Mountain startups.
Most of Yaoundé's economy is centred on the administrative structure of the civil service and the diplomatic services. Owing to these high-profile central structures, Yaounde has a higher standard of living and security than the rest of Cameroon. Major industries in Yaoundé include tobacco, dairy products, beer, clay, glass goods and timber. It is also a regional distribution centre for coffee, cocoa, copra, sugar cane and rubber.
Local residents engage in urban agriculture. The city is estimated to have «50,000 pigs and over a million chickens».
In 2010, under Mayor Jean Claude Adjessa Melingui, Yaoundé began a flood reduction project, the Yaoundé City Sanitation Master Plan, to deal with «severe floods [that] disrupted the city 15 to 20 times a year, affecting as many as 100,000 people at a time.» After four years, the frequency of flooding had been reduced from fifteen to three times a year, and cases of water-borne diseases such as typhoid and malaria were reduced by almost half. Although Melingui died in 2013, local officials are continuing his efforts to transform the city. Ongoing improvements to sanitation infrastructure are being carried out under a «$152 million plan, largely financed by loans, primarily from the African Development Bank and the French Development Agency», slated for completion in 2017.Despite the security issues and humanitarian crises that have plagued the central African nation, its economy remains stable. In fact, there is diversification of its productive economic activities, with the services sector contributing about half of the total domestic production.However, like many African countries, Cameroon has long suffered from corruption, which dominates almost all the sectors, particularly in the capital city. Oil, gas and mining revenues are rarely reported, which implies massive graft. In addition, there is weak protection of real and intellectual property, and the judicial system is vulnerable to political manipulation. According to Yaoundé City Council data, over 130 floods struck the city between 1980 and 2014, causing massive loss of life and economic damage. However, there has been a reduction of flooding in the city since the establishment of a sanitation master plan to address the issue. Another measure was to relocate people living along the drainage routes and in low-lying flood zones.
Cameroon has Central Africa’s most diversified economy, but it remains one of the continent’s most difficult operating environments for businesses due to a range of issues, from poor electricity supplies to generalised corruption. Economic growth is slowing because of the recent drop in oil prices, the weakness of local demand and the security crises in the north and Anglophone regions of the country.
Oil is Cameroon’s top export, representing more than half of total exports. To cope with the downturn, the government signed a deal with the International Monetary Fund to help it to implement a programme of economic and financial reforms. In 2017, the country’s gross domestic product dropped to 4%, down from 6% in 2015.
Despite the downturn, the government in Yaoundé has big plans for the economy. In 2009, Cameroon launched the Document de Stratégie pour la Croissance et l’Emploi , with the goal of making the country an emerging economy by 2035. Analysts and donor governments doubt Cameroon’s ability to meet that target, as economic growth is falling. The DSCE calls for economic growth of at least 5.9% from 2016 to 2020 in order for the economy to create enough jobs and wealth. The government is now forecasting growth of 4.2% for 2018. The IMF predicts that growth will rise from there but still not reach the target of 5.5% until 2021.
Doing business in Cameroon is a headache for many company executives due to several long-standing problems. The operating environment was worse in 2017, according to to the Groupement Inter-patronal du Cameroun , the country’s top business lobby, and it is not due to be any better this year. Even though it climbed three places since the last survey, Cameroon remains in the bottom 30 countries in terms of the ease of doing business. The survey is based on 10 measures , from how long it takes to create a business to how difficult it is to pay taxes.
One area of improvement was in terms of setting up a business, but there is a lot of room for improvement in many other fields.
The many complaints of the SME sector led the government to launch a bank for SMEs, the Banque Camerounaise des Petites et Moyennes Entreprises.
Cameroon has a large youth population, with more than 60% of the populace under the age of 25. In spite of many economic challenges, consumers in Cameroon have enjoyed increased annual disposable incomes in recent years, resulting in rising consumer expenditure . While still struggling with poverty , the country has a growing urban middle class that has benefited from an increased number of young professionals. The retail sector is becoming more formal and modern.
Cameroon’s economy suffers from factors such as stagnant per capita income and a relatively inequitable distribution of income. The Government of Cameroon provides subsidies for electricity, food, and fuel. Though this contributions helped many households, at the same time they had their toll on the federal budget and diverted funds from education, healthcare, and infrastructure projects.Price and accessibility are the main drivers for the majority of Cameroonians consumers, though a smaller segment of wealthier consumers also take into account brand recognition and quality.
As the family is central in Cameroonians’s life, advertising campaigns centered on family image are likely to have a stronger impact. Durable products such as fridges and microwave ovens are becoming more common in urban areas. The basic Cameroonian diet consists of starchy foods and cereals. Even though Cameroon has a large variety of food products as compared to its neighboring central-African countries, it has a deficit in meat products such as those from cattle or fishing. The demand for drinks is principally that for beer and in second place for fizzy drinks. Since the devaluation in 1994, the consumption of sweetened condensed milk, milk powder and yogurt has risen faster than the demographic rate.
All the import procedures are gathered at the Guichet unique des opérations du commerce extérieur . This one-stop shop gathers all the services involved in the import process. Procedures for importing and exporting goods to Cameroon include formalities for obtaining the status of importer/exporter involving registration in the Trade and Personal Property Credit Register, obtaining the trader card and professional exporter/importer card. The minimum wage was XAF 32,270 per month in 2014 according to the ILO . At the beginning of 2018, this amount was still in force and several proposals for its increase were discussed.
Yaoundé Nsimalen International Airport is a major civilian hub, while nearby Yaoundé Airport is used by the military. Train lines run west to the port city of Douala and north to N'Gaoundéré. Many bus companies operate from the city; particularly in the Nsam and Mvan districts. Frequent buses run on the road between Yaoundé and Douala, which has witnessed several fatal accidents. Travel time by road between Douala and Yaounde is approximately 3 hours. Traffic in the city can be heavy during weekdays, but is very light during the weekends. Yaoundé has made significant progress in infrastructure, especially road construction.
The Cameroon government is backing a new technology hub to be called «Cameroon Silicon River» in its capital city Yaoundé, in a move that is likely to move attention from its small, but already thriving ecosystem in the country’s southwest region. The new tech hub is modeled after Buea’s Silicon Mountain and will take a sizable portion of the 11.92 billion CFA francs 2019 budget of Cameroon’s ministry of scientific research and innovation. The government says Cameroon Silicon River will be a platform for research and innovation where young, creative, and enterprising Cameroonian software developers and other technologists will have the infrastructure and support they need.As Africa experiences the highest rate of growth of digital consumerism in the world, Cameroon finds itself at the forefront of the continent’s technological boom.
This rise of the tech industry in Cameroon is quickly changing the landscape of the country, and the investment opportunities these companies are bringing in, as well as the digital products they produce, could prove key to building Cameroon’s economy and improving the lives of its impoverished citizens. Despite the steady improvement of living conditions in Cameroon, many citizens still struggle to survive. As a result, numerous startups in the country have set out to use advancements in technology to work for people in need. Similarly, Agro-Hub set out to help farmers, who make up nearly 70 percent of Cameroon’s population, as they fight to keep their work profitable. The startup helps farmers adapt to market changes, sell their products and find a community among other farmers who may offer help.
As unemployment remains a constant issue, web platform Njorku helps people from Cameroon to find jobs by offering an easy-to-use interface for both people looking for work and recruiters trying to find well-suited candidates. These startups, only a few among many, use technology to solve real-world issues with practical solutions. As they succeed, the users they target also succeed.Seeing the possibilities that can arise when people are educated and knowledgeable about technology, many tech industry professionals both within Cameroon and abroad have invested time and resources to prepare young people for participation in the industry. The Genius Center in the Cameroon city of Douala teaches children coding, computer skills and the ability to think of digital solutions for real-world issues, preparing them not only for employment but also to use these skills to improve their communities.
While Africa’s fast-growing population raises alarms of poverty and unemployment, the rise in technology training provides hope for job openings increase and creation of well-educated workers who are capable of performing in these roles.As the tech industry in Cameroon continues to grow, significant changes are necessary for the growth to be sustainable. The country is still reeling from a three-month government-imposed internet shutdown in English-speaking regions that ended in early 2018, leaving tech professionals wary of the government as it announces plans to support the industry in the coming years. Due to tech professionals’ suspicion of the government and Cameroonian business peoples’ hesitation to invest in this industry, many startups have sought investment from investors outside of the country. For Cameroon to fully enjoy the benefits of this growing industry, domestic investors must understand and support the rapidly evolving direction in which the world market is trending.
Social Wellness and Human Resources
According to current projections, Cameroon’s population is projected to increase throughout the rest of the century. Cameroon’s current population of about 26.55 million is expected to increase to 50 million by 2050 and then 89.62 million by 2099. Despite negative net migration, Cameroon’s population growth rate is 2.59%, adding over 600,000 people to the population every year. This is likely because of Cameroon’s high fertility rate of 4.60 births per woman. Additionally, the birth rate is 34.71 births per 1,000 people and the death rate is 9.028 deaths per 1,000 people.
Cameroon has a young population with a median age of 18.7 years and 41.25% of the population being between zero to 14 years old. It was claimed in the latter part of the 19th century by German traders during the ivory industry’s peak. «The country’s name is derived from Rio dos Camarões —the name given to the Wouri River estuary by Portuguese explorers of the 15th and 16th centuries. In 1884 the Germans extended the word Kamerun to their entire protectorate, which largely corresponded to the present state» . This evolved into the name ‘Cameroon’ that we are familiar with now. Yaoundé’s population is 2.5 million, which makes it the second-largest city in the country after Douala, which has more than 3 million residents. Douala is the 27th most expensive city on earth, and the most expensive African city. Cameroon’s population is made up of its indigenous ethnicity, the Baka, also known as the pygmies. Kirdi and Fulani peoples are also a good percentage of the residents of Cameroon. Cameroonians usually have large, extended families with both polygamous and monogamous marriages in practice. Thanks to the encouragement of large families with many children, more than 60% of the current Cameroonian population is under 25 years of age. The current median age of those residing in Cameroon is 18.5 years of age, with a total life expectancy of approximately 59 years.
Languages in use here include the official use of English and French, with at least 24 major African language groups that are used regularly. Religious affiliation within Cameroon boasts a whopping 70% Christian belief base. 21% is of the Islamic faith, and a marginal 6% still maintain indigenous belief systems dating back to the cultural inception thousands of years ago . Islamic believers are concentrated in the north of Cameroon while Christian believers are dense in the southern and western region of the country.