France and Cameroon

Political relations

France and Cameroon have long-standing and strong relations punctuated by bilateral visits. Our civilian cooperation, which is substantial and multifaceted, highlights confident relations in all sectors: governance, health, education, infrastructure, rural development, environment, higher education, research and culture.

President Biya has made several visits to France, including an official visit in 2009, and attended the Nice Summit in May 2010, as well as the celebrations of the 50ᵗʰ anniversary of the African independences in Paris in July 2010. On the occasion of a working visit, President Biya met the President of the French Republic at the Élysée Palace on 30 January 2013. He also took part in the Élysée Summit for Peace and Security in Africa in December 2013, and attended the Paris Summit for Security in Nigeria in May 2014 and the COP21 Climate Conference in December 2015.

French President François Hollande made a State visit to Yaoundé on 3 July 2015. The previous visit to Cameroon by a French Head of State dated back to Jacques Chirac’s visit in 1999.

Mr François Fillon, Prime Minister, visited Yaoundé in 2009. Two agreements were signed on that occasion: one in the field of defence, replacing the 1974 agreements; the second designed to ensure transparent and coordinated management of migratory flows.

Mr Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs, visited Cameroon in March 2013. He returned in April that year for the liberation of the Moulin-Fournier family and in December when Father Georges Vandenbeusch was freed. Mr Fabius made a further visit to Cameroon in February 2015.

Mr Claude Bartolone visited Yaoundé in October 2014 on the occasion of the first visit to Cameroon by a President of the French National Assembly since the country’s independence.

French Ministerial visits have taken place regularly. Since 2010:

  • Mr Jean-Louis Borloo, Minister for Ecology, Energy and Sustainable Development, to attend the celebrations of the 50ᵗʰ anniversary of Cameroon’s independence on 20 May 2010.
  • Mr Henri de Raincourt, Minister for Cooperation, in 2011, for the signing of the second debt relief and development contract (C2D).
  • Mr Edouard Courtial, Minister of State for French Nationals Abroad, in February 2012, during a visit to the French community.
  • Mr Bernard Cazeneuve, Minister of the Interior, in May 2015.
  • Ms Annick Girardin, Minister of State for Development and Francophonie, in November 2015.
  • Mr André Vallini, Minister of State for Development and Francophonie, on 30 June-1 July 2016.
  • Mr Jean-Marie Le Guen, Minister of State for Development and Francophonie, on 17 December 2016.

Economic relations

Trade relations

Cameroon is France’s leading trading partner in Central Africa, excluding oil. Cameroon is France’s second-largest customer (after Gabon) and our second-largest supplier (after Congo) in Central Africa and a significant partner for French imports of certain products (tropical fruit, aluminium, wood and oil). France was Cameroon’s third-largest supplier in 2014 behind China and Nigeria – the position of which varies depending on petrol sales.

After a marked fall of 7.5% in 2014, French exports to Cameroon fell by 1.5% to €644.5 million in 2015, accounted for primarily by pharmaceuticals, food industry products, communication equipment, computers and automobiles. France’s imports (€294 million, +27%) are dominated by agricultural products (tropical fruit, cocoa) and forestry products, as well as aluminium and crude oil. All in all, the trade balance has fallen from €423.4 million to €350.3 million.

In the first half of 2016, French exports to Cameroon totalled €329.4 million (a fall of 1.9% on the first half of 2015), while French imports from the country fell 29.3% to €119.4 million. Our trade balance in the first half of 2016 remains positive at €210 million (+25.8%).

A diversified French economic presence

France is one of the three leading investor countries in Cameroon, with the United States and Malaysia (Chad-Cameroon pipeline). France is present in Cameroon through about a hundred subsidiaries of French groups in the following sectors: oil, agri-food, cement industry, wood, public works and civil engineering, telecommunications and logistics. The establishment of about 200 SMEs founded by French nationals also reflects the vitality of the economic ties between our two countries. The stock of French foreign direct investment (FDI) in Cameroon stood at €906 million in 2014, down 18% on 2013.

Total has pulled out of its exploration and production (E&P) activities in Cameroon in favour of Perenco (French group specialized in operating mature fields), while preserving its distribution network. EDF holds a majority stae in the Nachtigal Hydro Power Company, created on 7 July 2016 in order to operate the Nachtigal hydroelectric dam near Yaoundé. Its construction is expected to cost around $800 million, and its electricity will essentially be sold to the aluminium industry.

In the field of mobile telephony, Orange enjoys a favourable position on the Cameroon market, which is becoming increasingly competitive with the arrival of other operators. French companies are also present in the agri-food sector (Compagnie Fruitière, Vilgrain, Castel), construction (Vinci, Fayat, Bouygues) and industry (Lafarge, Air Liquide). The Bolloré Group is present in all ports (management of the Douala and Kribi ports container terminals), railways (Camrail concession, Douala-Ngaoundéré line), and transit operations. It has also opened the first cinema in its Canal Olympia network in Yaoundé. This non-exhaustive list illustrates the interest of French groups for Cameroon.

French bilateral aid

In the context of additional bilateral debt forgiveness, the first debt reduction and development contract (C2D) for a duration of 5 years (2006-2011), received a total allocation of €537 million included in a Partnership Framework Document (DCP) for a total of €653 million. The second C2D amounting to €326 million for the period 2011-2016 focuses on two sectors: agriculture and rural development (60%) and infrastructure and urban development (34%).

A third and last C2D was signed in Yaoundé on 30 June 2016, representing €611 million of grants to be provided by the Agence Française de développement (AFD, French Development Agency) over eight years (2017-2025). Project assistance is focused on two sectors, agriculture and rural development (€182 million) on the one hand and infrastructure and urban projects (€156 million) on the other. The contract also includes a budget dedicated to sectoral budget assistance, focused on social sectors and populations in the most fragile regions (€185 million).

The AFD is very active in Cameroon and finances many development projects, including by means of sovereign soft loans (through the C2D). A first loan agreement worth €60 million was signed for the upgrading works on the Douala Eastern Access, while a second loan agreement for €100 million was signed to build the second bridge over the Wouri River in Douala, for which €33 million has also been mobilized under the second C2D. For example, agreements have been signed for the French share of funding for the Lom Pangar Dam (€50 million), the construction of a West access route to Douala (€75 million) and sanitation projects in Douala (€130 million). (in French)

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

Since 2012, our research cooperation has received C2D funding worth €8.2 million and has focused on agricultural and medical research. Professional cooperation areas benefit from our technical assistance within the Higher Education for Professions in Central Africa Expert Support Team (PAPESAC). In the field of higher education, our action relies on traditional grants, missions and invitations. In total, the French technical assistance facility in Cameroon mobilizes 29 international technical experts.

In the field of cultural cooperation, the missions of the French Institute in Cameroon are intended to:

  • ensure high-quality grassroots cultural action, by turning French cultural institutions and Franco-Cameroonian Alliance française branches into centres of reference;
  • promote the French language in the context of official bilingualism in Cameroon;
  • build the capacities of private cultural actors by developing training courses using new information and communication technologies;
  • help shape public cultural policy with a positive economic impact.

This policy is also supported by three Alliance française branches in Garoua, Bamenda and Dschang, and six accredited schools throughout the country.

Other areas of civilian cooperation

The French partnership (excluding the C2D) aims to strengthen governance in Cameroon by funding cooperation tools in combating corruption, enhancing the operational capacity of the police and supporting decentralization, urban governance, public finance and the harmonization of business law. The second priority is the emergence and structuring of civil society through the current supporting Priority Solidarity Funds and the contribution of the Social Fund for Development.

The agreement on concerted management of migratory flows is behind several inclusive development projects (€12 million) in priority sectors like vocational training, support for job-creating productive activities, health, renewables and sustainable development.

Military cooperation

CCameroon occupies a special place within the peace and security architecture in Central Africa and the Gulf of Guinea.

It is France’s leading partner in the area of security and defence cooperation. The renewed Defence Partnership Agreement signed on 21 May 2009 entered into force on 1 August 2012.

This partnership aims to support African collective security mechanisms at regional and continental level. It focuses on training at regionally-oriented national schools (ENVRs), the Advanced Joint Services Defence Course (CSID), the International Security Forces Training School (EIFORCES) and the Law Enforcement Improvement Centre (CPTMO).

Updated: 22 February 2017

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