The Political Economy of Mineral Exploitation in Cameroon
The objective of this article is to explore the political economy of mineral exploitation in the Republic of Cameroon. Cameroon has been predominantly an agricultural economy since independence. However, since the 1980’s, the petroleum sector has been the country’s main foreign exchange earner. Due to dwindling oil output, there has been a drive towards the exploitation of other minerals (e.g. gold, diamond, bauxite, cobalt, uranium, nickel) to boast economic development. This article argues that Cameroon’s economic and political structures are similar to states that have suffered from the resource curse. The implications are that mining rents may be used to fund the mechanisms of repression that protects the government’s short-term political ambitions at the expense of Cameroons long term economic development. The government can at best influence sustainable development and reduce conflicts linked to mineral resource capture by either promoting agricultural development or institute a system where revenues generated from mineral exploitation is directly invested in the provision of social services to local communities. In perspective, the current enthusiasm by Cameroonians about future economic benefits from mineral exploitation should be treated with caution.