Natural resources, energy and environment
Cameroon has large resources of oil, natural
gas, precious stones and minerals, but only the oil is
fully utilized. Electricity is mainly extracted from
hydropower. Illegal logging is a problem, even though
the government is trying to stop it.
Oil began to be mined in the late 1970s and
production reached its peak with 186,000 barrels a day
in 1985. Since then, daily extraction has more than
halved. There is a risk that Cameroonian oil will soon
run out unless new major oil sources are discovered.
Some smaller deposits were found during the 2010s.
Major exports by Cameroon with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.
In 2013, Cameroon gained full control of the oil and
natural gas-rich Bakassi after winning over Nigeria in a
court dispute over ownership of the peninsula. However,
the recovery has been hampered by the fact that sporadic
violent acts make the security situation bad (see
Foreign Policy and Defense).
Cameroon exports its oil in the form of crude oil.
The country's only refinery does not have the capacity
to refine the domestic oil. Instead, imported oil is
refined from Nigeria, which is then re-exported there.
Abbreviationfinder: A popular acronym site in the world covering abbreviation for each country. For example, CM stands for Cameroon.
Cameroon has tried to increase openness in the
corrupt oil industry by joining the International
Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).
The companies and governments of the EITI countries
undertake to openly account for all their transactions
relating to the extraction of natural resources. The
purpose is also to distribute income from natural
resources more evenly within the countries.
Corruption and bureaucracy
Cameroon has natural gas assets that began exploring
in 2006. Only a small part of the gas resources are
still extracted. In the long term, natural gas is
expected to be more important than oil.
There are also plenty of gems and minerals. The
diamond reserves are estimated to be so large that they
could make Cameroon one of the world's leading diamond
producers. In the past, illegal mining of gold and
diamonds has taken place in eastern Cameroon, and most
of it is smuggled out of the country. Limestone is mined
for the cement industry. The country holds unused
reserves of uranium and tin.
Interest from foreign mining companies has increased
since Cameroon introduced a law that promotes
investment, and planning is underway for future
extraction of iron ore, bauxite, cobalt, nickel and
manganese, for example. However, many projects have
resigned or suffered severe delays due to extensive
bureaucracy and corruption.
Power failure and power outages
More than half of the electricity is extracted by
hydropower. The rest is produced in power plants, most
of which are fueled by oil and some by natural gas.
Hydropower is under development with the help of
companies from China, France and the US. Investments in
geothermal heat and solar power are made on a small
Electricity production is uneven and is hampered by a
lack of rainfall combined with the fact that the
hydropower plants are in poor condition. The state
electricity company has been forced to ration
electricity, and power outages are commonplace. The
electricity grid also covers only a small part of the
country. About 60 percent of Cameroon's population have
access to electricity, but in the countryside, only
one-fifth. Firewood and charcoal are the most important
energy sources in Cameroonian homes.
Environmental problems and logging
A 110-kilometer oil pipeline was built between
Cameroon and Chad in 2000–2003. The building was
criticized by environmental organizations who felt that
it harmed nature as well as threatened people and
already endangered animals in Cameroon's rainforests.
The criticism has continued even after the oil pipeline
became clear; oil has leaked into the sea from a
terminal outside the port city of Kribi in southern
Another environmental problem is the forest
companies' harvesting of rainforests. Cameroon has
signed an agreement with the EU to increase the control
of the Union's imports of tropical timber to reduce the
illegal logging in Cameroon. The EU buys most of
Cameroon's sawn timber, but most of the unprocessed
timber is exported to China and other overseas countries
which are not subject to the increased control. Illegal
felling is still occurring in Cameroon as control is
inadequate and corruption is widespread. Cameroon is
also one of the African countries with the largest area
of nature-protected land, around 14 percent of the
FACTS - ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
Energy use per person
334 kilos of oil equivalent (2014)
Electricity consumption per person
274 kWh, kWh (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions in total
7 004 thousand tons (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant
0.3 ton (2014)
The share of energy from renewable sources
76.5 percent (2015)