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.
- COUNTRYAAH: 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. Visit itypeusa for more information about 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 scale.
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 Cameroon.
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 land area.
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)