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Growth and Poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa$

Channing Arndt, Andy McKay, and Finn Tarp

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198744795

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198744795.001.0001

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Slow Progress in Growth and Poverty Reduction in Cameroon

Slow Progress in Growth and Poverty Reduction in Cameroon

Chapter:
(p.293) 13 Slow Progress in Growth and Poverty Reduction in Cameroon
Source:
Growth and Poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa
Author(s):

Samuel Fambon

Andy McKay

Joseph-Pierre Timnou

Olive Stéphanie Kouakep

Anaclet Désiré Dzossa

Romain Tchakoute Ngoho

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198744795.003.0013

Abstract and Keywords

The chapter analyses the growth performance of the Cameroonian economy from independence in 1960 to date, and uses this as a background for the analysis of poverty, inequality, and non-monetary outcomes. The analysis of poverty and inequality takes data from three comparable and nationally representative Cameroonian household surveys that were conducted in 1996, 2001, and 2007 respectively; these are complemented by an analysis of the four demographic health surveys conducted in 1991, 1998, 2004, and 2011. This analysis puts more emphasis on spatial differences. Some policy recommendations are given, generally focusing on the need for stronger and sustainable economic growth and for greater policy attention to be paid to poverty reduction, especially in disadvantaged regions of the country.

Keywords:   Cameroon, poverty reduction, economic growth, household surveys, demographic health surveys, policy

13.1 Introduction

Cameroon is a country in Central Africa stretching over an area of 475,000 km2, with a population of about 22.5 million inhabitants in 2013 and a density of about 39.7 inhabitants per km2. It is a member country of the Franc Zone.1 Its currency, the franc of the Communauté Financière en Afrique Centrale (the CFAF), is issued by Banque des États de l’Afrique Centrale (BEAC),2 and pegged to the euro at the fixed parity of €1 = CFAF655.55. Cameroon is endowed with huge potentialities not only in agriculture, but also in minerals. In addition, the country has oil resources at its disposal, which contributed about 43 per cent of its exports in 2004, and accounted for 11.1 per cent of its GDP (IMF 2005). Compared with other sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) countries, Cameroon has a relatively diversified production base and resources, for it produces and exports a wide range of non-oil products.3 Although the country has been a producer and net exporter of oil since 1978, agriculture remains the pillar of the economy and employs about 70 per cent of the labour force.

It has the largest population by some margin in the Central African region and is the region’s leading economy. In its first twenty-six years after (p.294) independence in 1960 its per capita GDP in 2005 US$ grew at 2.5 per cent per year, reaching a maximum value of US$1,356 in 1986. At that point it was among the wealthiest SSA countries outside South Africa. This, however, was not a case of consistent GDP growth over this period. Per capita growth between 1960 and 1977 averaged only 0.4 per cent per annum, but with the discovery of oil and the start of its production from 1978 per capita growth between 1977 and 1986 averaged 5.4 per cent per annum. This growth burst was not sustained, and ever since 1986 Cameroon’s per capita GDP has been significantly lower. The following twenty-eight years were not a case of consistent decline; but since 1990 Cameroon has not had a per capita GDP level in excess of US$1,000. It still remains relatively well-off among countries in SSA; and it has not been significantly affected by conflict as have some of its neighbours. But given its resources, its economic achievement has been disappointing.

This chapter focuses predominantly on Cameroon’s record in terms of poverty reduction. But this needs to be understood in the context of its overall economic performance. Hence, in this chapter we begin by reviewing some of the factors accounting for its growth performance (section 13.2), summarizing the situation in different subperiods, and then drawing in particular on the insights of the AERC study of Kobou et al. (2008). In section 13.2 we use household data to look at the country’s record in reducing monetary poverty and at the distributional pattern of growth (section 13.3). This is then complemented by analysing its record in terms of non-monetary outcomes (section 13.4). In this analysis a strong emphasis is placed on regional differences in this spatially diverse country. Section 13.5 concludes.

13.2 The History of Growth Performance in Cameroon

The growth history of Cameroon from its independence in 1960 to date is conveniently summarized by Figure 13.1, which shows the evolution of per capita GDP in local currency values. This is a case of a slow gradual growth, averaging 0.6 per cent a year over the full period, but punctuated by a relatively short-lived growth surge over the period 1976–85 during which per capita growth averaged 6.3 per cent. The growth surge is relatively straightforwardly explained: it reflects the discovery and production of oil, at a time when the initial oil price was high. The long-run performance calls for a more detailed explanation, but has been the subject of a detailed and authoritative political economy analysis by Kobou et al. (2008) on which we draw in sections 13.2.5 and 13.2.6.

To first summarize the history of Cameroon over this period, it is convenient to subdivide into four distinct sub-periods: (i) 1960–77, before the (p.295)

Slow Progress in Growth and Poverty Reduction in Cameroon

Figure 13.1. GDP per capita of Cameroon in constant local currency values

Source: World Development Indicators, 2014

exploitation of oil; (ii) 1978–86, when the oil sector played a major role in the country’s economy; (iii) 1987–93 during which the economy witnessed a serious economic crisis; and (iv) the period from 1994 to date, or the CFAF post-devaluation sub-period relative to the French franc. The following paragraphs briefly present Cameroon’s economic performance over each of these sub-periods.

13.2.1 Prior to Oil Exploitation: 1960–77

Following independence in 1960, Cameroon adopted an interventionist approach to industrialization and economic development. Trade policy kept import prices high, terms of trade were stable, and there was a rapid expansion of agricultural exports. Real GDP grew at an average rate of 3.1 per cent over this period, but as the accompanying population growth averaged 2.4 per cent, the per capita growth rate was much smaller. Growth was also quite volatile during this time. The private investment/GDP ratio rose from 11 per cent in 1963 to about 19 per cent in 1977; by contrast, public investment as a percentage of GDP remained very low at 2 per cent. Government revenues during this sub-period accounted for about 18 per cent of GDP, and the average total budget deficit was low at about 1 per cent of GDP (Ghura 1997).

13.2.2 The Arrival of Oil: 1978–86

This sub-period starts with the production and exportation of oil in 1978. Real GDP rose by about 8.8 per cent per year during this sub-period, driven to a (p.296) significant extent by the increase in oil production, which grew from less than 5 million barrels in 1978 to more than 66 million barrels in 1986. The oil sector also contributed significantly to the budget of the state, with oil receipts rising from less than CFAF 20 billion (1.4 per cent of GDP and 9 per cent of total revenues) in 1980 to CFAF 330 billion in 1985 (9 per cent of GDP and 41 per cent of total revenue). Total government revenues rose from an average of about 17 per cent of GDP over the sub-period 1965–77 to 21 per cent over the sub-period 1978–86 (Ghura 1997).

When the government officially announced the discovery and exploitation of important oil fields in Cameroon, it made a conscious effort to avoid contracting ‘Dutch Disease’. This risk was reduced in the first instance by the fact that a large proportion (about three-quarters) of oil revenues were saved abroad. Oil receipts were excluded from the normal budgetary process and a special off-budget account created for oil revenues, which was directly managed by the Presidency of the Republic. The government sought to pursue the Green Revolution. And traditional exports, such as cocoa and coffee, which might lose out in such circumstances, benefitted from the government using its liquidity position to increase agricultural export prices. The government sought to keep the real exchange rate from appreciating.

But at the same time, taking advantage of the rise in public resources, the government, like those of many other oil-producing countries at the time, embarked between 1980 and 1984 on an expansionary fiscal policy characterized by significant consumption and investment spending.4 Ambitious development programmes were initiated in economic and social infrastructures, notably in transport, communications, health, education, and housing. The rise in budgetary and extra-budgetary resources generated by the oil sector made it possible to increase the investment rate and to control the level of the country’s indebtedness. A large amount of money was spent on capital outlays using domestic resources with very little foreign borrowing. During this subperiod, external funding accounted for only 6 per cent of total expenditure, while the external debt amounted to only 27 per cent of GDP in 1988/9 (World Bank 1989).

Dutch Disease effects may have been relatively mild over this period, but at the same time policy was inconsistent with sustained growth (Kobou et al. 2008). During this time there was an accumulation of poor performances of public enterprises whose continued survival came to depend increasingly on government subsidies—a situation which led to serious public finance (p.297) imbalances.5 A coup attempt was experienced in 1984 which turned out to be a prelude to the decline which was to follow shortly.

13.2.3 The Economic Crisis: 1987–93

The sub-period 1987–93 was marked by a severe economic crisis in which there was a 40 per cent fall in real GDP. Economic activity shrank in several sectors, in particular in the construction and public works sectors, but also in cash crops, retail trade, and oil. Three major factors account for the deterioration of the economic and financial situation in Cameroon during this subperiod: (i) the persistent and concomitant fall of the US$ and the prices of export products such as oil, cocoa, coffee, and cotton; (ii) the associated appreciation of the effective real exchange rate against the US$; and (iii) the decline in the country’s oil output.

Between 1986 and 1992 the terms of trade declined by about 40 per cent (Ghura 1997), while the effective real exchange rate appreciated by about 40 per cent on a cumulative basis between 1985 and 1992. This was due to inflation triggered by expansionary fiscal policies and the appreciation of the French franc (Ghura 1997). To these causes must be added lax macroeconomic management. As a result of increased government spending in this period and a fall in revenue, the budgetary balance showed an average deficit of 7 per cent of GDP between 1987 and 1993, compared with a surplus of 1 per cent during the sub-period 1978–86. External and internal borrowing as well as external arrears essentially financed the budget deficit, and debt increased sharply. Investment plummeted by more than 70 per cent between 1985/6 and 1992/3, and consumption per head fell by nearly 40 per cent.

Enterprises faced serious problems of payment arrears due to external creditors and domestic suppliers, as well as failures to reimburse debts to domestic banks. The deterioration of financial conditions during the sub-period 1987–93 revealed the problems facing many domestic banks which were found to be undercapitalized, poorly managed, and only marginally profitable (Doe 1995). This situation worsened before and after the highly contested presidential elections of October 1992 when serious confrontations occurred between the government and the opposition (Fambon 2010). These incidents were further aggravated when opposition leaders adopted civil disobedience as their movement’s call for action, and instructed their members and the population at large to stop paying taxes. The result was that the government became financially handicapped and was unable to honour its financial commitments, including its payroll.

(p.298) To reverse this downward trend, the government attempted by the late 1980s and early 1990s to stimulate the economy with the help of a strategy based only on domestic adjustment measures.6 Given the need to maintain the common parity of the CFAF, the key elements of this strategy were to reduce the budget deficit by raising tax rates; to cut salaries and subsidies to public enterprises; and to restore external competitiveness by reducing domestic costs and restructuring public enterprises. But given the extent of macroeconomic imbalances, it became apparent by the end of 1993 that strategies solely based on internal adjustment would not be sufficient to shift the economy back to a sustained growth recovery path. It was not possible to restore competitiveness given that domestic prices (including salaries and producer prices) had displayed significant downward rigidities. Moreover, owing to declining government revenues, fiscal adjustment mainly consisted of deep cuts in investment budgets and non-salary spending on maintenance and other essential services, which was harmful to Cameroon’s economic growth.

13.2.4 The Post-Devaluation Period (1994 to Date)

While the domestic adjustment strategies by themselves failed to stem the crisis and revitalize the economy, the devaluation on 14 January 1994 of the CFAF vis-à-vis the French franc by 50 per cent provided a major opportunity. At the time the government adopted stabilization and structural reform programmes supported by the IMF and the World Bank, which sought to control inflation and re-establish growth, based on expectations that the competitiveness of exports from the rural and urban sectors could provide adequate primary and total budget surpluses likely to boost public savings to finance high-priority public and social spending. A second programme followed in August 1997 (which became the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) in November 1999).7 The combined effects of these measures succeeded in restoring the country’s economic growth starting in 1995 after almost a decade of economic decline. Considerable improvements were achieved in the export and public finance sectors.

(p.299) With Cameroon’s external competitiveness restored and growth re-established, GDP per head increased by about 1.6 per cent annually while inflation remained moderate at a rate of about 2 per cent per year during the same period. Private investment rose from 11 per cent to 13 per cent of GDP over 1996–2000. In addition, the fiscal reforms initiated in 1994 boosted non-oil revenues by two percentage points of GDP, owing mainly to improvements in tax administration and the introduction of the value added tax in 1999. Balance of payments stability was maintained with a current account deficit of 3.2 per cent of GDP on average during 1998–2000. Furthermore, the satisfactory execution of the reform programme gradually restored Cameroon’s creditworthiness vis-à-vis the international financial community. In the context of these various reforms, the public authorities were able to finalize the country’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP), an interim version of which was adopted in August 2000 (Government of Cameroon 2003). The finalization of the PRSP in 2003 made it possible for the authorities to negotiate the completion point of the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative, and completion was achieved in April 2006.

Since then, the economy has generally experienced macroeconomic stability with moderate inflation and reasonable economic growth. Growth has slowed down in recent years, though—for instance falling from 2.9 per cent in 2008 to around 2 per cent in 2009. This slowdown in growth might be attributed to the deterioration of the country’s trade balance, the stagnation of the international economic climate, and to fiscal problems linked to the combined effects of the international economic and financial crisis, the food crisis, and the energy deficit. In view of this situation, the government took emergency measures to stimulate the agricultural sector, by giving priority to the production of food crops such as maize, rice, potatoes, and plantain bananas. The economy has performed better in the last few years.

To sum up, it may be said that economic growth in Cameroon was quite variable over the period, notably with major changes in economic policy orientations and the vagaries of domestic and external shocks. Poor macroeconomic management in the oil windfall period led to subsequent long-lasting problems in later years.

13.2.5 Sources of Growth and Total Factor Productivity

Kobou et al. (2008) conducted a growth accounting analysis of Cameroon from 1960 to 2000 and showed that economic growth in Cameroon was basically driven by the major factors of production without showing any impact of technical progress (Table 13.1). Thus, for an average annual GDP growth rate of 1.16 per cent per head, the physical capital ratio recorded an average annual growth rate of 1.6 per cent versus 0.29 per cent for the human (p.300)

Table 13.1. Contribution of factors to growth in Cameroon

Subperiod

Real GDP per worker

Contribution of capital per worker

Contribution of education per worker

Contribution of global productivity of factors

1960–77

1.41

1.40

0.22

−0.22

1978–85

7.66

3.17

0.47

4.01

1986–2000

−2.58

1.00

0.28

−3.86

Mean

1.16

1.61

0.29

−0.74

Source: Data based on Kobou et al. (2008)

capital ratio. The average annual growth rate of total factor productivity (TFP) was negative and stood at −0.74 per cent during the period 1960–2000.

However, this overall view of the period 1960–2000 conceals some contrasts that appear in sub-periods. Between 1960 and 1985, the physical and human capital ratios contributed two-thirds of per capita GDP growth, while TFP contributed the remaining one-third, but the positive TFP contribution occurred only in the 1978–85 period. This change of factors in the growth process may be linked to the deliberate action of decision-makers who sought to provide Cameroon with appropriate infrastructure and production units likely to contribute significantly to large-scale industrialization. But between 1986 and 2000 the pattern is very different. The capital and labour ratios increased at an average annual rate of 1.28 per cent, but which was lower than the rates previously recorded, but TFP was shrinking at an average annual rate of −3.86 per cent, which weighed heavily on the growth process. Between 1960 and 2000 economic growth was driven by both capital and labour, but more by capital. Under these conditions the country could not achieve sustained growth, since it is productivity rather than the capital stock which is crucial in the growth process.

The authors combined this framework with a regression model to provide a comprehensive picture of the macroeconomic factors which affect economic growth, analysing the roles by the macroeconomic framework, investment, and human capital.8 By concentrating on the variables of the ‘new’ growth theories (see, for instance, Easterly et al. 1991; Renelt 1991; Levine and Renelt 1992), the authors found that Cameroon’s per capita GDP growth rate stood at 1.37 percentage points below the world average over the entire period of the study. Their analysis showed that unproductive government expenditure had (p.301) a particular negative influence on growth, contributing −0.34 percentage points to the deviation of the growth rate.

Finally, the trend in the contribution of the different sectors to GDP has changed over time. The agriculture sector was the sole engine of growth and foreign exchange earnings until the late 1970s when oil became the primary engine of growth. By contrast, the analysis of the evolution of real GDP by sector of activity clearly shows that between 2000 and 2007, economic growth was above all driven by the service sector, and notably by telecommunications which achieved a growth rate exceeding 25 per cent per year during this period. The contribution of this sector to growth in this period is more important than that of the primary and secondary sectors combined.

13.2.6 Policy and Political Economy Factors, Sources of Growth, and Total Factor Productivity

Kobou et al. (2008) present a detailed analysis of the factors which have underlain Cameroon’s ultimately disappointing growth performance. Some of the key messages have already been discussed in section 13.2.3. Cameroon has access to foreign exchange through natural resources such as timber and oil, but also through agricultural exports. To some extent, the combined use of these different resources has helped the country to shield itself against adverse shocks, with Cameroon often increasing its exports of timber when revenue from oil exports fell. But its economic performance remains very responsive to terms of trade fluctuations. In addition, and as seen in section 13.2.3, this resource wealth has been associated with lax macroeconomic management, notwithstanding the potential advantages of the fixed exchange rate.

They argue that markets for goods and services, as well as labour, fail to function well in Cameroon as a result of extensive government intervention. Farmers have often adopted a survival strategy, failing to use purchased inputs and often withdrawing from cultivating cash crops. The manufacturing sector was very highly protected until the late 1980s, but as a result it displayed a very low productivity, and the environment was not conducive to the conduct of business. Small firms, which potentially could be more dynamic, particularly faced numerous sources of disadvantage. This all created a very difficult environment for the conduct of economic activity. As noted in section 13.2.5, more recent growth has occurred mostly in the services sector, with agriculture and manufacturing continuing to perform poorly. Boosting productivity will require institutions and policies which affect the incentive to generate and disseminate innovations in the country.

The political economy context is also very important, with Kobou et al. (2008) arguing that this has been a major constraint on growth. Governments in Cameroon have faced a continual challenge to seek to maintain peace in a (p.302) context of ethnic and regional tensions. The country has avoided open conflict, but peacebuilding has been a permanent focus of the government. Kobou et al. (2008) identify at least four groups in the population: the North, the Centre and South, the West, and the English-speaking regions of the Southwest and Northwest. To add to this are religious differences with the country approximately equally divided between Christianity, Islam, and traditional beliefs. To seek to maintain social cohesion in this environment has been a major focus of all governments. The authors argue that this has led to some suboptimal decisions; for instance, they contend that both ministerial appointments and employment in the public sector have been seen much more as a means of sharing power and resources among different interest groups. The public-sector payroll was used as a means of creating employment for these groups. While this may have maintained peace, it has failed to provide effective service delivery.

To sum up this review, growth performance has been disappointing for most of the period since independence with the exception of the relatively short-lived and ultimately unsustainable growth burst the country experienced between 1978 and 1986. Ineffective management of the natural resource wealth was definitely a major part of the explanation; but even aside from the resource wealth, weak institutions and poor implementation of policy would appear to have been a common theme in Cameroon.

13.3 National-Level Patterns of Changes in Poverty, Inequality, and Household Welfare

13.3.1 Data Sources and Consumption Trends

What have been the consequences of the above record of economic performance for the evaluation of poverty and living conditions in Cameroon? The investigation begins in this section and the next with the analysis of monetary poverty and inequality, for which the data come from the three ECAM (Enquête Camerounaise Auprès des Ménages) household surveys from 1996, 2001, and 2007 (Institute of Statistics 1996, 2001, 2007). This then corresponds entirely to the last of the four sub-periods described in section 13.2. There is little comparable data before this period.

The three ECAM surveys collect similar data, which includes detailed information on consumption. The ECAM2 and ECAM3 surveys have samples of 10,992 and 11,369 households, while the ECAM1 sample contains only 1,731 households. Household welfare is measured here as household consumption expenditure per adult equivalent; further detail on the precise definition is provided in Appendix 1 of Fambon et al. (2014). A poverty line for Cameroon was set in 2001 based on a consumption basket comprising sixty-one food items which provided 2,900 kcal per adult equivalent; the non-food (p.303)

Table 13.2. Average consumption in Cameroon in ECAM surveys

Average consumption per adult

1996

2001

2007

Annualized growth, 1996–2001, %

Annualized growth, 2001–7, %

Cameroon

310.5

391.7

411.6

4.8

0.8

Urban

400.6

484.4

515.4

3.2

1.0

Rural

235.0

315.0

280.4

4.9

−1.9

Adamaoua

314.3

361.8

2.4

Centre

337.2

320.6

−0.8

Coast

321.8

340.5

0.9

Douala

538.4

621.5

2.4

East

371.3

359.2

−0.6

Far North

344.5

310.5

−1.7

North

357.3

328.0

−1.4

Northwest

327.9

378.4

2.4

South

358.0

428.5

3.0

Southwest

413.9

464.0

1.9

West

348.8

341.5

−0.4

Yaoundé

584.8

649.3

1.8

Source: Computed by the authors from ECAM1, ECAM2, and ECAM3 survey data (National Institute of Statistics 1996, 2001, and 2007)

component of the line was determined by a regression of the food share on the logarithm of the ratio of total household expenditures over the food poverty threshold, and other household consumption variables.

We begin by analysing the change in household consumption between the survey years, which are presented in Table 13.2. Household consumption grew by 26.2 per cent in total between 1996 and 2001 and 5.1 per cent between 2001 and 2007; over the same periods the changes in per capita GDP were 9.6 per cent and 4.7 per cent. Between 1996 and 2001 annualized growth rates of consumption were high in both urban and rural areas, especially in the latter, but between 2001 and 2007 consumption fell sharply in rural areas, while it continued to rise, though at a slower rate, in urban areas. By region there was quite a big diversity in growth rates between 2001 and 2007. There were quite fast positive growth rates in Douala, the South, Adamaoua, the Northwest, and Yaoundé, but in other regions growth was negative, especially in the North and Far North, which were among the poorer regions to begin with.

13.3.2 Patterns of Monetary Poverty

Summary poverty indices for the national level are presented in Table 13.3. The national poverty headcount fell significantly between 1996 and 2001 from 53.3 per cent to 40.2 per cent, a period over which per capita GDP (p.304)

Table 13.3. Trends in monetary poverty in Cameroon, 1996–2007

Survey period

1996

2001

2007

P0

0.533

0.402

0.399

(0.0326)

(0.0146)

(0.0134)

P1

0.191

0.141

0.123

(0.0167)

(0.0085)

(0.0062)

P2

0.090

0.070

0.050

(0.0095)

(0.0061)

(0.0031)

Watts

0.2665

0.2091

0.1611

(0.0249)

(0.0174)

(0.0086)

Note: Figures in parentheses represent standard errors.

Source: Computed by the authors from ECAM1, ECAM2, and ECAM3 survey data (National Institute of Statistics 1996, 2001, and 2007)

grew by about 10 per cent. The P1 poverty measure showed a reduction of five percentage points during the period, falling from 19 per cent in 1996 to 14 per cent in 2001; and the severity index fell from 9 per cent in 1996 to 6.9 per cent in 2001, a decrease of two percentage points. But there was no significant change in the poverty headcount between 2001 and 2007, a period over which per capita GDP also increased less. The greater reduction of poverty over 1996–2001 compared to 2001–7 is seen for all indices presented in Table 13.3. This shows that the government did not take advantage of either the macroeconomic stability the country experienced during the period 2001–7, or of the opportunities offered during this period, notably by the resources released by the IMF and the World Bank following the achievement of the decision and completion point of the HIPC debt-relief initiative.

But the poverty severity measure P2 does show a significant reduction between 2001 and 2007 from 7 per cent to 5 per cent; and the Watts index too shows a significant reduction. Thus, the poverty reduction which did happen over this period occurred mostly at the bottom of the distribution.

Poverty incidence curves (Figures 13.2 and 13.3) confirm the significant poverty reduction from 1996 to 2001 and the very limited progress between 2001 and 2007. These curves suggest that the patterns of changes in poverty discussed above are not likely to be sensitive to the precise location of the poverty line, in any reasonable range. But they do also show evidence of greater poverty reduction at the bottom of the distribution between 2001 and 2007.

These periods show substantially better progress in urban areas than rural areas, as seen in Table 13.4, even though poverty levels were significantly higher in the latter. This is in line with the results in section 13.3.1 on consumption growth rates. There was a significant reduction in urban poverty (p.305)

Slow Progress in Growth and Poverty Reduction in Cameroon

Figure 13.2. Poverty incidence curve for Cameroon, 1996–2001

Source: Computed by the authors from ECAM1 and ECAM2 data (National Institute of Statistics 1996 and 2001)

Slow Progress in Growth and Poverty Reduction in Cameroon

Figure 13.3. Poverty incidence curve for Cameroon, 2001–7

Source: Computed by the authors from ECAM2 and ECAM3 data (National Institute of Statistics 2001 and 2007)

(p.306)

Table 13.4. Trends in monetary poverty in urban and rural areas, 1996–2007

Urban

Rural

1996

2001

2007

1996

2001

2007

P0

0.414

0.221

0.122

0.596

0.499

0.550

(0.030)

(0.012)

(0.008)

(0.046)

(0.019)

(0.018)

P1

0.147

0.063

0.028

0.214

0.183

0.175

(0.013)

(0.004)

(0.002)

(0.024)

(0.012)

(0.009)

P2

0.069

0.027

0.010

0.101

0.093

0.072

(0.007)

(0.002)

(0.001)

(0.014)

(0.009)

(0.004)

Watts

0.205

0.085

0.035

0.299

0.275

0.230

(0.020)

(0.006)

(0.003)

(0.036)

(0.026)

(0.012)

Average per adult consumption

400,607

484,450

515,391

235,881

315,012

280,224

Note: Figures in parentheses represent standard errors.

Source: Computed by the authors from ECAM1, ECAM2, and ECAM3 survey data (National Institute of Statistics 1996, 2001, and 2007)

between 1996 and 2001 according to all indices, which continued between 2001 and 2007. Rural poverty fell less according to all measures between 1996 and 2001, while the rural poverty headcount increased significantly between 2001 and 2007. At the same time, though, the P1 and P2 measures fell in rural areas over this period, though not to a statistically significant extent. This again shows an improvement in the situation of the extreme poor in rural areas, a pattern confirmed by the rural growth incidence curve for this period (not presented here), which shows a very similar pattern to the national curve over the same years.

Similar information for the twelve commonly identified provinces of Cameroon for 2001 and 2007 is presented in Table 13.5. Consistent with the above results on both consumption growth rates and poverty, these data confirm that the two major cities of Yaoundé and Douala have by some way the lowest levels of poverty and have made the most progress between these years. Among the other regions, the Southwest, West, and South had the lowest levels of poverty in both 2001 and 2007, and poverty also fell over this period. The poorest provinces in both years were the North, Northwest, Adamaoua, the Far North, the Centre, and the East, though the ranking differs from year to year. Four of these provinces (the exceptions being the Centre and Northwest) showed increasing poverty headcounts between 2001 and 2007, this being large and statistically significant in the North and Far North (increases of 14.6 and 24.1 percentage points respectively).9 Poverty severity (p.307)

Table 13.5. Poverty in Cameroon by region

2001

2007

Region

Population Share

P0

P2

P0

P2

Douala

9.7

0.186

0.020

0.055

0.002

(0.016)

(0.003)

(0.012)

(0.001)

Yaoundé

8.7

0.183

0.021

0.059

0.002

(0.020)

(0.003)

(0.012)

(0.001)

Adamaoua

4.5

0.458

0.067

0.530

0.054

(0.049)

(0.010)

(0.044)

(0.010)

Centre

7.8

0.604

0.135

0.412

0.031

(0.044)

(0.038)

(0.031)

(0.005)

East

4.8

0.47

0.077

0.504

0.062

(0.051)

(0.019)

(0.052)

(0.011)

Far North

17.7

0.418

0.056

0.659

0.112

(0.042)

(0.010)

(0.036)

(0.010)

Coast

4.9

0.441

0.088

0.308

0.027

(0.047)

(0.020)

(0.027)

(0.004)

North

7.3

0.491

0.069

0.637

0.086

(0.034)

(0.007)

(0.039)

(0.008)

Northwest

11.5

0.528

0.143

0.5100

0.068

(0.052)

(0.029)

(0.034)

(0.008)

West

12.1

0.381

0.050

0.290

0.023

(0.030)

(0.006)

(0.029)

(0.004)

South

3.4

0.386

0.052

0.292

0.026

(0.082)

(0.016)

(0.047)

(0.006)

Southwest

7.5

0.35

0.069

0.275

0.025

(0.057)

(0.019)

(0.038)

(0.006)

Cameroon

100

0.402

0.070

0.399

0.050

(0.015)

(0.006)

(0.013)

(0.003)

Note: Figures in parentheses represent standard errors.

Source: Computed by the authors from ECAM2 and ECAM3 survey data (National Institute of Statistics 1996, 2001, and 2007)

was particularly high in the Far North and the North in 2007. The worse situation of these two northern provinces is consistent with the consumption growth data presented in section 13.3.1. Thus there is some evidence of increasing spatial differentiation over this period, with the north of the country in particular becoming worse off relative to the rest, aligning with one of the social divides noted above and in Fambon et al. (2014).

The significant poverty increase in the Far North province may be due to situational obstacles such as the advent of floods and invasions of granivorous birds in this province of the country in 2007, which resulted in a serious loss of goods and harvests that negatively affected the population. In addition, structural obstacles such as anarchic agricultural practices and the chronic rainfall deficit contributed to the fall in agricultural production and the aggravation of (p.308) food insecurity. Moreover, the peasants are victims of an inability to store which leads them to sell the bulk of their agricultural output at harvest time, only to borrow money during hard times at high interest rates to buy vital commodities to make ends meet.10 In the East province, the increase in poverty may be explained by the slowdown in forestry activity which is very important in this region. Moreover, some companies in the timber industry were delocalized to establish their headquarters in Douala, a move likely to limit the employment opportunities of the population and the tax revenues of the municipalities of the province. The poverty increase in the regions of Adamaoua and the North may be due to the loss of earnings in terms of revenues caused by the completion of the construction work of the Doba-Kribi pipeline.11 Regional-level inequality data are not presented here, but generally show reductions over this period, many statistically significant, but inequality in the North and Far North does not show a statistically significant change during this time.

A decomposition of changes in poverty between 2001 and 2007 into growth and redistribution components using the technique developed by Datt and Ravallion (1992) (not presented here) shows that the growth effect plays an important part in accounting for urban poverty reduction and rural poverty increase, but that there is also a strong poverty-reducing redistribution effect in urban areas. By-province growth effects contribute to strong poverty reduction in Douala, Yaoundé, the Centre, and the South, and there are strong poverty-reducing redistribution effects in Douala, Yaoundé, the Southwest, Coast, and the Centre. The increase in poverty in the northern provinces of the North and the Far North reflects sharply adverse growth and redistribution effects; in Adamaoua there is also an adverse redistribution effect. A similar decomposition by the main activity of the household shows a sharp poverty reduction among those in non-farm activities, both formal and informal though faster in the latter, but a sharp poverty increase among those working in agriculture. These changes predominantly reflect growth effects.

13.3.3 Distributional Pattern of Change

Values of summary inequality measures for Cameroon for the three years are summarized in Table 13.6, which also includes separate values for urban and rural Gini coefficients. The overall pattern shown in this table is of no (p.309)

Table 13.6. Trends in inequality in Cameroon, 1996–2007

Survey period

1996

2001

2007

Gini coefficient

0.406

0.408

0.390

(0.0169)

(0.0078)

(0.0060)

Urban Gini

0.449

0.406

0.352

(0.0203)

(0.0096)

(0.0075)

Rural Gini

0.346

0.369

0.322

(0.0310)

(0.0161)

(0.0065)

GE(0)

0.272

0.291

0.248

(0.0227)

(0.0142)

(0.0077)

GE(1)

0.317

0.316

0.279

(0.0300)

(0.0155)

(0.0106)

GE(2)

0.544

0.556

0.445

(0.0786)

(0.0528)

(0.0286)

Note: Figures in parentheses represent standard errors.

Source: Computed by the authors from ECAM1, ECAM2, and ECAM3 data (National Institute of Statistics 1996, 2001, and 2007)

significant change in inequality at the national level between 1996 and 2001 according to the Gini coefficient or Generalized Entropy (GE) Indices, but there were significant reductions in all these measures of inequality between 2001 and 2007. Looking at the urban–rural disaggregation, urban inequality consistently and significantly fell over this period. In rural areas, however, inequality increased between 1996 and 2001, before falling back significantly between 2001 and 2007. These patterns may seem difficult to reconcile with the regional patterns of change seen in Table 13.5, but are consistent with the poverty incidence curves showing better progress at the bottom between 2001 and 2007.

The growth incidence curve (GIC) comparing 1996 and 2001 shows positive growth throughout most of the distribution except at the very bottom and top (Figure 13.4). On the other hand, the GIC for 2001–7 (Figure 13.5) shows very little growth in consumption, but a pro-poor pattern of change with the only positive change being seen in the first quintile. This is consistent with the reduction in inequality in this period, with little change in the incidence of poverty, but a reduction in the severity of poverty associated with the improving outcomes for the poorest.

13.4 Changes in Non-monetary Poverty

The main source for the analysis of non-monetary measures of poverty is the Demographic and Health Surveys conducted in 1991, 1998, 2004, and 2011. (p.310)

Slow Progress in Growth and Poverty Reduction in Cameroon

Figure 13.4. Cameroon growth incidence curve, 1996–2001

Source: Computed by the authors from ECAM1 and ECAM2 data (National Institute of Statistics 1996 and 2001)

Slow Progress in Growth and Poverty Reduction in Cameroon

Figure 13.5. Cameroon growth incidence curve, 2001–7

Source: Computed by the authors from ECAM2 and ECAM3 data (National Institute of Statistics 2001 and 2007)

(p.311)

Table 13.7. Summary national-level indicators from DHS surveys

Indicator

1991

1998

2004

2011

Under-five mortality rate

144

146

148

128

% of children fully vaccinated

40.0

35.8

48.2

53.2

Height-for-age below −2 SD

22.9

29.3

29.7

24.1

Weight-for-height below −2 SD

3.8

5.9

6.7

6.2

Weight-for-age below −2 SD

16.3

22.2

19.4

18.1

% of respondents with secondary education or above

26.5

33.3

39.1

46.2

Fertility rate

5.8

4.8

5.0

5.1

% of households with electricity

29.0

40.7

47.1

53.7

% of households with adequate drinking water source

63.9

64.2

71.6

74.4

% of households owning radio

54.0

52.5

62.5

56.1

% of households owning bicycle

15.7

13.3

18.2

14.7

Source: Computed by the authors from DHS surveys

Some summary national-level figures, including heath indicators (mortality, malnutrition, and vaccination), education, ownership of durable goods, and housing amenities, are presented in Table 13.7.

Cameroon’s under-five mortality rate remains high for a middle-income country, and did not fall at all during 1991–2004. Only since then has the mortality rate fallen, though it still remains at 128 per thousand live births. In terms of malnutrition, the numbers of those stunted and underweight are also quite high; and malnutrition if anything worsened over the 1991–2004 period. Again, since then the situation has moderately improved, though the rates still remain quite high. And while the situation in relation to the number of children under 12 months, who had been fully vaccinated, improved over the 1998–2011 period, by 2011 nearly half of children in this age range still were not fully vaccinated. This suggests significant questions about the coverage or effectiveness of the health care system in Cameroon. Fertility remains high in Cameroon, but decreased from 5.8 in 1991 to 4.8 in 1998, remaining more or less at that level since.

Education, however, improved significantly over this period; by 2011 the proportion of the population who had secondary education or more almost doubled compared to twenty years before. The number of households with access to electricity also increased substantially over this period, though there was a much more modest improvement in the proportion having access to an adequate drinking water source. Ownership of durable goods did not increase much over this time, except for the percentage of households having a refrigerator, this presumably also being linked to the greater access to electricity. In short, many of these indicators give an impression of very slow improvement over most of this period, though the situation in relation to health indicators in particular improved more noticeably in recent years. But the absolute level of outcomes remains disappointing for a country with Cameroon’s level of per capita GDP.

(p.312) The time pattern of change here is somewhat different from what was seen for consumption poverty. For the latter, the situation improved between 1996 and 2001, but made limited progress between 2001 and 2007. The DHS indicators by contrast show least progress between 1991 and 2004, but quite good progress between 2004 and 2011. However, this difference is not surprising; the surveys relate to different years, and consumption estimates in particular can be quite sensitive to the economic conditions when the surveys were carried out. In addition, there is no reason why monetary and different non-monetary measures should show the same trends.

We now turn to a disaggregated analysis of some of these indicators. Here, the 2004 and 2011 DHS surveys enable an estimation of indicators at the level of the twelve provinces of Cameroon, but the smaller sample size in 1991 and 1998 means that disaggregation is only possible into five regions, which are an aggregation of the twelve regions. To enable comparability, the tables show figures for these five regions for each of the four survey years, in addition to the more detailed figures for the last two survey years. In some cases, other forms of disaggregation will be shown, for instance by urban/rural or by wealth quintile defined using the DHS asset indices.

Table 13.8 presents data for under-five mortality. Mortality rates are higher for boys than girls. Over time, mortality rates change very little (in fact slightly worsen) between 1991 and 2004, before finally falling between 2004 and

Table 13.8. Disaggregated under-five mortality rates for Cameroon

1991

1998

2004

2011

By location

Region: Yaoundé/Douala

103

91

93

75

Yaoundé

112

76

Douala

74

75

Region: Adamaoua/North/Far North

199

202

186

171

Adamaoua

136

129

North

204

191

Far North

185

168

Region: Centre/Southeast

124

146

148

110

Centre

120

121

South

153

103

East

186

96

Region: West/Coast

109

91

123

101

West

126

99

Coast

113

105

Region: Northwest/Southwest

87

98

116

93

Northwest

98

68

Southwest

143

127

Boy

144

148

154

135

Girl

143

144

141

122

Total

144

146

148

128

Source: Computed by the authors from DHS surveys

(p.313) 2011. By region, sharp differences are seen; in particular mortality rates are much higher in the Adamaoua, North, and Far North provinces in all four years and the detailed data for 2004 and 2011 confirm that it is in the North and Far North provinces that rates are highest. These rates are twice as high as those in the region with the best mortality outcomes, the main cities of Douala and Yaoundé. It is clear from these figures that the high national-level mortality figure reflects in particular very poor outcomes in the northern part of the country. The other regions have mortality rates more similar to those of the main cities, though even here important differences are apparent, notably between the Northwest (where rates in 2011 are lowest in the country) and the adjacent Southwest (where rates are much higher). The patterns of change in most regions are similar to the national pattern, with the only improvements coming between 2004 and 2011, and this improvement is less in the Adamaoua, North, and Far North provinces.

Malnutrition levels are also highest by some magnitude in the same northern regions, as demonstrated on Table 13.9 reporting on the case of stunting. Improvements over time are also lower in this region compared to others.

Table 13.9. Percentage of under-three-year-olds with height-for-age Z score less than −2

% with height-for-age Z score less than −2

1991

1998

2004

2011

by location

Region: Yaoundé/Douala

8.7

14.7

19.6

10.2

Yaoundé

13.7

11.0

Douala

25.0

9.4

Region: Adamaoua/North/Far North

29.0

35.6

34.5

32.7

Adamaoua

25.5

25.9

North

42.0

34.8

Far North

32.5

32.9

Region: Centre/South/East

23.0

30.8

27.6

20.6

Centre

25.9

14.8

South

27.7

21.9

East

30.1

29.4

Region: West/Coast

23.0

21.2

27.5

21.6

West

29.3

22.1

Coast

22.4

20.2

Region: Northwest/Southwest

22.7

25.8

30.2

22.7

Northwest

30.0

25.5

Southwest

30.6

18.7

by wealth quintile

Lowest

31.7

36.4

35.4

36.8

Second

29.1

32.2

33.5

31.4

Middle

30.8

31.9

33.6

21.6

Fourth

17.3

26.0

25.4

17.0

Highest

9.1

15.3

13.5

9.9

Total

22.9

29.3

29.7

24.1

Source: Computed by the authors from DHS surveys

(p.314) Again the best outcomes are seen in the main cities. An analysis by wealth quintile shows (i) very large gaps by quintile; and (ii) that the improvements between 2004 and 2011 are largely confined to the top three quintiles, with the situation in the poorest quintile actually worsening over this period. Other malnutrition indicators show the same patterns (Fambon et al. 2014).

In relation to health inputs, the analysis of Fambon et al. (2014) shows that vaccination rates are consistently much lower in Adamaoua/North/Far North, and especially in the latter two provinces, and the rate actually fell in the Far North between 2004 and 2011. Rates in the lowest quintile are less than half of those in the richest quintile, and again the outcome worsened between 2004 and 2011 in the first quintile. Here, the best outcomes are actually not in the big cities, but rather in the Northwest and Southwest, both of these regions showing a big improvement between 2004 and 2011.

In relation to education (Table 13.10), the same regional pattern is apparent in all tables so far, with significantly worse outcomes in all the northern provinces especially in the North and Far North. By 2011, fewer than 12 per cent of respondents had secondary education or above; this contrasts dramatically with Douala/Yaoundé where an impressive 79 per cent are educated to this level. Education levels are much higher in other regions compared to the northern regions, but range from 69.7 per cent in the South to 44.8 per cent in the Northwest. All regions show the same pattern of consistent improvement

Table 13.10. Percentage of respondents with secondary education or above

Percentage of respondents with secondary education or above

1991

1998

2004

2011

By location

Region: Yaoundé/Douala

62.5

72.8

71

79.3

Yaoundé

74.6

79.5

Douala

67.7

79.1

Region: Adamaoua/North/Far North

3.7

5.8

7.7

11.8

Adamaoua

20.3

22.6

North

6.6

12.6

Far North

5.2

7.9

Region: Centre/South/East

34.4

38.1

46.7

55.3

Centre

46.7

57.5

South

60.7

69.4

East

34.5

42

Region: West/Coast

32.7

45.2

47.3

58.8

West

45

56.9

Coast

52.9

63.8

Region: Northwest/Southwest

22.8

32

37.9

48.7

Northwest

31.6

44.8

Southwest

47

53.8

Total

26.5

33.3

39.1

46.2

Source: Computed by the authors from DHS surveys

(p.315) in education rates over the period analysed here, but the gaps between regions remain constant or in some cases widen.

Tables for other non-monetary indicators presented by Fambon et al. (2014) mostly show the same patterns of regional difference. Big spatial differences are apparent in most indicators to the disadvantage of the north of the country, and in most cases the indicators stagnated between 1991 and 2004, only starting to improve since.

13.5 Conclusions and Policy Priorities

The overall pattern coming from this analysis is of good progress in reducing monetary poverty between 1996 and 2001, which then slowed down or stopped between 2001 and 2007. In terms of non-monetary measures of poverty there was very little progress over the 1991–2004 period except in education, but indicators then improved between 2004 and 2011. In both cases there has been progress for part of the period but this has not been sustained over the full time. Overall progress has been disappointing and this is in line with disappointing growth performance. Given the rates of growth over the period, the rate of change in monetary poverty is not very surprising; Cameroon has failed to reduce poverty because of poor growth performance which is a consequence of many of the factors highlighted in this chapter, including weak institutions and poorly formulated policies.

In addition to this, given Cameroon’s income level, and comparison with other countries in SSA, the levels of the outcomes of the non-monetary indicators do raise serious questions about the effectiveness of public service delivery in health and education, among other areas. The main cities may have respectable outcomes in these indicators but much of the rest of the country lags significantly behind. There has been progress in recent years, but the levels of mortality and malnutrition remain high for a middle-income country.

Also striking in these results is the extent and consistency of spatial inequality shown by both monetary and non-monetary welfare measures. Again, the difference between Yaoundé and Douala compared to the rest of the country is striking; but perhaps the most striking feature is that the northern parts of the country are so much more deprived compared to the rest of the country. Even if successive governments have been concerned to limit regional divergences, this does not seem to have been particularly successful, in particular in relation to the north of the country where some of the non-monetary outcomes compare with levels in much poorer countries in SSA. These regions in particular appear not to have benefitted from economic growth or effective service delivery. The extent of divergence could be a potential source of increased tension in the future.

(p.316) In terms of priorities, Cameroon’s seeming inability to sustain a reasonable growth rate seems to be one key factor; better and more effective policy formulation would seem to be a major policy priority here. This chapter suggests that this raises quite fundamental questions, not just about the effective management of resource wealth but also putting in place institutions that would support faster sustained growth. The fixed exchange rate is potentially an advantage, but with other institutional and policy weaknesses this is not sufficient by itself. Putting in place an appropriate framework for business, reducing support to public enterprises, addressing market failures including those in the financial sector, and prioritizing agricultural production would appear to be important early priorities.

An equally important priority is to address what appears to be a chronic problem of effective delivery of public services; this can offer benefits for growth as well as for social outcomes. Progress may have been made recently, but the overall outcomes in terms of non-monetary indicators, especially in the poorer regions, remain disappointing for a country with the overall income level which Cameroon has.

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank UNU-WIDER’s Growth and Poverty Project for supporting this work, and Cameroon’s National Institute of Statistics for providing the household survey data used in this analysis. They are also grateful to Macro International Inc. for making available the Cameroonian DHS data used in this study.

References

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Datt, G. and M. Ravallion (1992). ‘Growth and Redistribution Components of Changes in Poverty Measures: A Decomposition with Applications to Brazil and India in the 1980s’, Journal of Development Economics, 38: 275–85.

Doe, L. (1995). ‘Managing Cameroon’s Banking Sector—In and Out of Crisis: The Role of the Government’, African Development Review, 7: 103–66.

Easterly, W., R. King, R. Levine, and S. Rebelo (1991). ‘How Do National Policies Affect Long-Run Growth: A Research Agenda’, Working Paper WPS 794. Washington, DC: World Bank.

Fambon, S. (2010). ‘Poverty and Growth in Cameroon during the Post-Devaluation Period (1996–2001)’, Journal of African Studies and Development, 2(4): 81–98.

(p.317) Fambon, S., A. McKay, J.-P. Timnou, O. S. Kouakep, A. Dzossa, and R. Tchakoute (2014). Growth, Poverty, and Inequality: The Case Study of Cameroon’, WIDER Working Paper 2014/154.

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Government of Cameroon (2003). Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper. Yaoundé: Government of Cameroon.

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Levine, R. and D. Renelt (1992). ‘A Sensitivity Analysis of Cross-Country Growth Regressions’, American Economic Review, 82(4): 942–63.

Mbaku, J. M. (1993). ‘Foreign Aid and Economic Growth in Cameroon’, Applied Economics, 25: 1309–14.

Most, S. J. and H. Van Den Berg (1996). ‘Growth in Africa: Does the Source of Investment Financing Matter?’, Applied Economics, 28(9): 1427–33.

National Institute of Statistics (1996). Database of ECAM1. Republic of Cameroon, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Programming, and Regional Development.

National Institute of Statistics (2001). Database of ECAM2. Republic of Cameroon, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Programming, and Regional Development.

National Institute of Statistics (2007). Database of ECAM3. Republic of Cameroon, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Programming, and Regional Development.

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Tchoungui, R., S. Gartlan, J.-A. Mopo Simo, F. Sikod, A. Youmbi, and M. Ndjatsana (1995). ‘Structural Adjustment and Sustainable Development in Cameroon: A World Wide Fund for Nature Study’, ODI Working Paper No. 83. London: Overseas Development Institute.

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Notes:

(1) Cameroon is also a member of the Communauté Economique et Monétaire de l’Afrique Centrale, of the Commonwealth, and of the Communauté Economique des États d’Afrique Centrale.

(2) The BEAC is the central bank of six Central African countries, namely: Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, and Chad. The other members of the CFAF currency area are: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Niger, Senegal, Togo, and since 1984, Mali, whose common central bank is the Banque des États de l’Afrique de l’Ouest.

(3) These products are mainly cocoa, coffee, cotton, palm oil, bananas, rubber, and aluminium, etc.

(4) A large number of public agencies, marketing boards, and public enterprises were set up and developed in all the sectors of the economy, often supported by government subsidies. Moreover, the transport sector suffered from the strong intervention of the government and was dominated by publicly owned rail, urban, air, and maritime transport enterprises, including road maintenance, etc.

(5) It is estimated that the amount of subsidies disbursed to public enterprises in 1984/5 comes to CFAF 150 billion (Tchoungui et al. 1995).

(6) It is opportune to note that, when faced with unfavourable economic circumstances, Cameroon’s public authorities first committed themselves in 1987 to an adjustment policy supported by an autonomous programme, and without the intervention of Bretton Woods institutions. This programme aimed to reduce government spending and to alleviate the weight of the public sector broadly defined. These measures turned out to be inadequate in stemming the economic crisis. Thus, the government ended up adopting an IMF stand-by agreement and a structural adjustment credit from the World Bank.

(7) This programme was supported by a Structural Adjustment Credit of the World Bank and the Structural Adjustment Programme II of the Development Aid Fund.

(8) It should be noted that several other studies have been carried out on Cameroon’s economic growth, but they do not take account of the variables of the new theory of economic growth. In effect, the study by Amin (2002) indicates that labour and capital inputs are the main factors which affect economic growth in Cameroon. Mbaku (1993) and Most and Van Den Berg (1996) show that domestic savings have a stronger impact on growth.

(9) It is opportune at this point to mention the fact that the region of the Far North has been for a decade the privileged target of poverty reduction projects and programmes, as well as actions for the benefit of women in the Far North province such as PREPAFEN, the programme for the improvement of rural family income (PARFAR), and the Logone and Chari project. In this respect, poverty should have decreased faster than elsewhere in the country.

(10) In addition, the slowdown of the activity of the Société d’Expansion et de Modernisation de la Riziculture in the plain of Yagoua (SEMRY) and the cessation of that of the Programme National de Vulgarisation et Recherche Agricole (PNVRA), which supervise the peasants, further complicated the situation of households in this region of the country.

(11) It can be noted that this type of project offered in 2001 both the possibilities of direct incomes and of incomes mainly induced in the informal sector of the regions concerned.