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France and Cameroon

Political relations

France and Cameroon have long-standing and strong relations punctuated by bilateral visits. Civilian cooperation between the two countries is extensive and diverse (first debt reduction and development contract (C2D) for 2006-2011: €537 million; second C2D for 2011-2016: €326 million) and highlights trust-based relations in many sectors: governance, health, education, infrastructure, rural development, the environment, higher education, research and culture.

President Paul Biya made an official visit to Paris in July 2006. He made a working visit to France in October 2007. He again made an official visit to France on 21-24 July 2009 and attended the Nice Summit in May 2010, as well as the celebrations of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the African Independences in Paris on 13-14 July 2010. On the occasion of a working visit to France, President Biya met the President of the French Republic at the Elysée Palace on 30 January 2013. He also took part in the Élysée Summit for Peace and Security in Africa on 5-6 December 2013, and attended the Paris Summit for Security in Nigeria on 17 May 2014 and the COP21 Climate Conference in early December 2015.

Conversely, the 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, French Prime Minister, visited Yaoundé on 21-22 May 2009. Two agreements were signed on that occasion: the first, in the field of defence, replaced the 1974 agreements; the second one was designed to ensure transparent and coordinated management of migratory flows (Cameroon is the main point of origin of the African diaspora in France).

Mr Laurent Fabius, French Minister of Foreign Affairs, visited Cameroon on 15-16 March 2013. He returned there on 19 April for the release of the Moulin-Fournier family and on 31 December when Father Georges Vandenbeusch was freed. Laurent Fabius again visited Cameroon on 21-22 February 2015.

Mr Claude Bartolone visited Yaoundé on 26-27 October 2014 on the occasion of the first visit to Cameroon by a President of the French National Assembly since the country’s independence.

Ministerial visits have taken place regularly:

• Mr Jean-Marie Bockel, French Minister of State for Cooperation and Francophonie, on 1-3 October 2007.
• Mr Brice Hortefeux, French Minister of Immigration, Integration, National Identity and Mutually-Supportive Development, on 18-20 May 2008.
• Ms Anne-Marie Idrac, French Minister of State for Foreign Trade and Mr Alain Joyandet, French Minister of State for Cooperation and Francophonie, on 5-7 October 2008 to attend a meeting of Finance Ministers of the Franc Area.
• Mr Alain Joyandet, French Minister of State for Cooperation and Francophonie, on 8-10 March 2009.
• Mr Jean-Louis Borloo, French 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, French Minister for Cooperation, from 29 June to 1 July 2011, for the signing of the second C2D.
• Mr Edouard Courtial, French Minister of State for French Nationals Abroad, on 1-3 February 2012, during a visit to the French Community.
• Mr Bernard Cazeneuve, French Minister of the Interior, on 15 May 2015.
• Ms Annick Girardin, French Minister of State for Development and Francophonie, on 1-3 November 2015.

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). Since 2012, though China is ahead, France has been Cameroon’s second-largest supplier, excluding oil.

The trade balance between France and Cameroon showed a surplus of €479.7 million in 2013. French exports have increased (+5.2%) to €707 million and consist mainly of pharmaceutical products (€129.4 million), food products (€101.6 million), industrial and agricultural machinery (€97.3 million) and agricultural products (€76.9 million). French imports (€227.7 million, +4.8%) are dominated by agricultural products and forestry, fishery and aquaculture products, up by 8.8% compared to 2012.

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 and SMIs founded by French and Cameroonian nationals also reflects the vitality of economic links between our two countries.

Total has pulled out of its exploration and production (E&P) activities in Cameroon for the benefit of Perenco (French group specialized in smaller drilling), while preserving its distribution network. ENGIE is currently developing a natural gas liquefaction project (Cameroon LNG (liquefied natural gas) project) at the Kribi site with Cameroon’s Société Nationale des Hydrocarbures (SNH), which could amount to a $4 billion investment. At the end of 2013, EDF signed an agreement with the Cameroonian government, Rio Tinto Alcan and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to build a hydroelectric facility (dams and power plants) in Nachtigal, near Yaoundé, whose cost is estimated at US$800 million. The facility will ultimately be operated by EDF and the power sold primarily to the Rio Tinto Alcan aluminium company.

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 interests are also represented in the banana sector by the fruit producer Compagnie Fruitière. The Bolloré Group is present in all ports (management of the Douala container terminal), railways (Camrail concession, Douala-Ngaoundéré line), and transit operations. The Bolloré Group has shown interest in the management of the terminals of the future Kribi deep-sea port, an industrial and mining hub. Lafarge, a leader in the building materials sector, is active in Cameroon, through its subsidiary CIMENCAM. 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%).

The French Development Agency (AFD) is very active in Cameroon and finances many development projects, including by means of sovereign loans subsidized through C2D funds. 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).

www.tresor.economie.gouv.fr/pays/cameroun (in French)

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

Since 2012, our research cooperation has received C2D funding worth €8.2 million and it focuses 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 Alliances 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

Cameroon 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 Garoua National Regionally-Oriented Aeronautic Centre (PANVR Garoua), the Advanced Joint Services Defence Course (CSID), the International Security Forces Training School (EIFORCES) and the Law Enforcement Improvement Centre (CPTMO).

Updated: 17/03/2016