Work is underway in Cameroon: infrastructure projects are increasing, some thanks to the next Africa Cup of Nations which the country is organising for 2019. Is it sufficient to put the country on the path of emergence?
Investments in Cameroon: seeing the wood for the trees
Over the last two years, Cameroon has carried out essential work. This includes the construction of the Kribi port, the completion of the Nachtigal hydroelectric project and the bridges over the Wouri and river Cross. These major works come, in general, with significant tax and customs advantages provided for by the 2013 law on private investments. They should not conceal certain weaknesses of the Cameroon in other key business sectors in taking the path of emergence, in particular that of industrial transformation.
The Ministry of Industry's announcement in July 2018, according to which nearly 360 industrial projects are seeking investors in the sectors of local raw material transformation, as well as the concerning financial situation of the CDC, the country's second largest employer and prodTaxation in Cameroonucer of rubber, bananas and palm oil, illustrate this weakness.
Taxation in Cameroon: a legal framework that needs to be adapted
he inadequacy of current taxation in the key sector of industrial transformation hinders the industrialisation of Cameroon's economy and its emergence. The majority of established economic operators face a Cameroonian tax regime described by some as confiscatory and unattractive for foreign investors. It does not even make it possible to meet the Government's budgetary requirements (the tax revenue for the first half of the year will have fallen).
With a corporation tax rate of 33%, the minimum amount of which, payable even in the case of a loss, amounts to 2.2% of revenue with no limitation, capital-gains taxation on direct or indirect transfers of securities that is difficult to implement, the repetition of tax audits for the same financial years and a costly tax procedure, Cameroon represents one of the African countries seeking or achieving emergence.
If we are to believe the work completed in 2017 by the African think tank, Observatoire de l'Émergence en Afrique, Cameroon appears in the penultimate group, those countries with the potential for emergence, behind those considered on the threshold of emergence (such as Algeria, Senegal and Benin) or having achieved it (such as Mauritius, Rwanda and Ghana). To determine this emergence index, 23 criteria grouped together into four aspects (political, economic, human and social) have been taken into consideration.
Taxation does certainly not create emergence alone, but having a modern, coherent and attractive tax regime oriented towards the development of industries and services contributes to it significantly.
Expert Opinion in Jeune Afrique Magazine, July 15, 2018, written by Pierre Marly and Deana D'Almeida, members of our Africa Practice, skillled legal team of Africa specialists.