Cameroon Market Entry
|Religion||animists 40%, Christians 40%, Muslims 20%|
|State system||presidential republic|
|Head of State||Paul Biya|
|Head of government||Joseph Ngute|
|Currency name||West African Franc (XAF)|
|Time shift||0 h (in summer -1 h)|
|Nominal GDP (billion USD)||109.3|
|Economic growth (%)||3.1|
According to cheeroutdoor.com, Cameroon gained full independence from France on January 1, 1960. Cameroon is a unitary republic practicing a presidential system with a multi-party political system. However, political and executive power is firmly in the hands of the President of the Republic with the assistance of the Prime Minister. The president is elected for a 7-year term by direct popular vote. The President also appoints the Prime Minister and, on his proposal, new members of the Government. The president of Cameroon has been Paul Biya since November 6, 1982, and he is also the chairman of the strongest domestic political party, the RDPC. Paul Biya was re-elected for a seventh consecutive presidential term in October 2018.
Basic conditions for the use of Czech goods on the market
- Market entry
- Forms and conditions of operation on the market
- Marketing and Communications
- Issues of intellectual property protection
- Public procurement market
- Payment terms, payment ethics and resolution of commercial disputes
- Visas, fees, specific conditions of travel to the territory
- Employment of citizens from the Czech Republic
- Fairs and events
Although it is possible to export directly to Cameroon, cooperation with a local representative or a registered company (importer) is a competitive advantage. Even these people need to be actively sought out, preferably personally on the spot. Companies that have a French-speaking contact person in the country (English is only rarely used) or direct representation have a competitive advantage. A foreign company can sell its goods directly, through an agent or distributor, it can open a representative office or enter into a “joint venture” with a local partner. The most suitable for the supplier (but at the same time the least likely) is, of course, finding a creditworthy partner who would work on his own account and pay for the offered goods himself when they are collected in the Czech Republic. If the company does not want/cannot export directly, a creditworthy and reliable importer/distributor/agent is a key person – you need to maintain personal and direct relationships with him as often as possible. The best market entry strategy is through a local representative/distributor. The local conditions are so complicated that it is impossible to establish yourself without long-term experience and contacts. Goods that need service are better sold through an authorized dealer. Forms of business “joint-venture” between domestic Cameroonian customers and foreign suppliers are proving to be effective. The main distribution channels run through the port in Europe to Douala. Air traffic goes to Douala and Yaoundé airports. In Cameroon, daily necessities are mostly sold in small shops, of which there are a large number. Large shops and supermarkets exist only in large cities. There are a number of Cameroonian, French, Lebanese, Indian and Chinese trading firms in the country with an effective (land) distribution network. The Czech Republic has not yet built up any network of representatives in Cameroon who would regularly treat the local market. The customer focuses primarily on the price, the quality of the goods comes second – the ever-increasing imports of cheap Chinese goods represent a major competitive obstacle.
The import of goods into the country is technically quite complex, as well as into other countries of the territory. Each local import company must be registered with the local Chamber of Commerce (Régistre du Commerce), and also needs a license from the Ministry of Industry. A Czech exporter of goods to Cameroon especially needs an open letter of credit (Letter of Credit), confirmed by a reputable foreign bank. During importation, the conditions of the letter of credit must be met, for which a bill of lading (Bill of Lading 3x) or air waybill (4x), a set of invoices, packing lists, and usually also a certificate of origin of the goods are required. The importer on the Cameroonian side must fill out the relevant form before importing the goods, which he will hand over to his bank. The bank will send the confirmed form to an authorized inspection company, which will issue a confirmation and report that that the goods can be imported into Cameroon. All imports into Cameroon worth over USD 4000 are inspected for the government by the Franco-Swiss company SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance). The pre-shipping inspection is focused on both prices and quality, quantity and safety of the goods. Imported food must be labeled in French and English with the production and expiration date, manufacturer’s address, weight and composition. The goods must also bear the inscription “Vente en CEMAC”. Imported plants and plant products must have a phytosanitary certificate. Certification of exported cocoa and coffee is mandatory.
Import duties from third countries vary depending on the type of goods being imported. The Cameroon tariff (based on the CEMAC tariff) distinguishes four basic categories: – basic products (medicines, vaccines, medical devices, rice and wheat) – the rate is 5% – raw materials and equipment for the industrial sector – the rate is 10% – semi-finished products (especially most imported food products) – the customs rate is 20% – ordinary consumer goods (alcoholic beverages, perfumes, electronics, etc.) – 30% rate
Customs administration is also very lengthy and bureaucratic. Often the duty is not based on the invoiced price, but on the customs official’s estimate of the domestic “market” price. Cameroon is part of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC). CEMAC member countries are exempt from customs duties and taxes as defined in the Common External Tariff (TEC), regardless of whether the entry point is CEMAC.
Forms and conditions of operation on the market
On January 1, 1998, an agreement between the 15 African countries of the CFA currency area (and Guinea) called OHADA (Organisation pour l’Harmonisation du Droit des Affaires en Afrique) entered into force, which promotes the development of the African Economic Community, a common commercial policy and guarantees traders and investors legal certainty and compatibility. Cameroon has acceded to the OHADA agreement and commercial law here does not differ from European law, with exceptions. Cameroonian commercial law (common under the OHADA agreement) allows both domestic and foreign companies to operate, among other things, as “Société a Responsabilité Limitée” (SARL – spol. s ro) or “Société Anonyme”. Foreign investors can own all shares in the company, only certain basic and different minimum capital requirements apply. Foreign companies registered in Cameroon have the same rights under the law as local companies. The same regulations and rules also apply to their registration. A “one-stop-shop” office was established in Yaoundé in 2010, which should handle all the formalities associated with company registration within a few days. The rules for setting up an office are codified in the Commercial Code and implementing regulations (Code, further information). In order to establish a company, it is necessary to carry out similar procedures as in the Czech Republic and submit similar documents, the partnership agreement must then have the same or very similar requirements as in the Czech Republic. The company is established at the founding general meeting, where the founding partners or their representatives meet (power of attorney certified by a Czech notary in French or English or with an official translation, in the case of natural persons, a copy of the passport or OP, in the case of legal entities, an extract from the OR with translation). On the day of the general meeting, the basic capital is deposited in a provisional account or deposited in a notary’s safekeeping. The company will also decide on its seat and document the lease agreement (a temporary seat agreement with a lawyer is enough). Cameroonian courts usually do not require super-legalization of Czech documents, but documents must be officially translated into French or English. All documents are written here in French or English (both languages are official). The executive can be a Cameroonian or a foreigner.
The Cameroonian submits only a certified copy of the birth certificate and an extract from the criminal record. The foreigner submits the same from his country of origin with a certified translation and, in addition, a Cameroonian extract from the criminal record. By appointing a foreigner to a statutory body, the basic condition for processing a residence permit is met. The residence permit is then documented at the registry court. In the same way, the equivalent of our trade certificate is presented to the registry court. The company can also be established remotely on the basis of full powers. The operation of any regular activity in the field of industrial or commercial activities or the provision of services is subject to registration in the Republic of Cameroon by the Chamber of Commerce (Chambre de Commerce, d’Industrie et des Mines du Cameroun, Cameroon Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Mines – CCIM.
Marketing and communication
Media advertising has the greatest effect, especially for goods with a fast turnover. TV advertising, newspapers, radio, magazines, large-scale billboards, the Internet or even mobile phones can be used. A number of advertising-focused companies operate in the country. Other paths must be chosen in the field of supply of investment units. Here, direct contacts with state administrative bodies and relevant ministries have had the greatest effect so far. Participation in local exhibitions and fairs is very suitable. The most important of them Promo, organized by the local Chamber of Commerce, takes place every year towards the end of the year in Yaoundé.
Issues of intellectual property protection
Rights must be registered locally and enforced under local laws. The trademark owner should register it in Cameroon. Cameroon has adopted laws promulgated by the African Intellectual Property Office (OAPI, based in Yaoundé), which aims, among other things, to protect patents. A patent enjoys protection for 10 years, it can be extended after 5 years. A trademark is valid for 20 years and can be renewed after 10 years. As a member of the OAPI, Cameroon has accepted a number of obligations arising from international treaties for the protection of patents, intellectual property, including the Paris and Berne Agreements and the agreement establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization. As a WTO member, Cameroon is a signatory to the TRIPS Agreement. Despite existing treaties, rights in Cameroon are widely and often violated, judicial protection is slow and ineffective.
Public procurement market
According to the law, all contracts worth more than 10,000 USD should be subject to a tender process (the relevant ministry is responsible for the process, subject to the supervision of the Ministry of Public Procurement and the Public Procurement Agency), but the government (the president) sometimes directly awards the contract (especially when it comes to PPP projects). Public contracts (so-called tenders) are published very often in the local press or on the Internet (e.g. information about tenders; investments in Cameroon), this is the usual form of announcing these contracts, but not all of them are published. However, the deadline for submitting an application for a published tender is usually short (two to three weeks after publication in the press). From a technical point of view, competitions are very often adjusted “tailored” to the expected winner. Tenders are usually associated with the payment of a non-refundable entry fee (minimum about US$400, normally about US$1,250, for large orders of an investment nature up to USD 10,000). The interested party must also be so-called registered in advance with the institution that announces the tender. For projects where the customer is the government or state ministries, it is most often required that the contractor take over the entire order – i.e. turnkey project implementation with all risks, including commissioning and long-term operation for the period of repayment of the investment by the government. Participation in contract tenders requires long-term monitoring of the situation with necessary lobbying of the relevant central authorities and provision of relevant information even before the official announcement of tender conditions. This is not possible without constant presence and contacts. Very important are the contacts at the ministries and especially the offices of the Prime Minister and the President. The one who has the best contacts and can offer good payment terms will prevail.
Payment terms, payment ethics and resolution of commercial disputes
Cameroon is a member of the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) and the New York Convention of 1958. Cameroon is a member of the WTO and in 1995 it also signed a convention, prepared by the OHADA organization, which harmonizes the legal norms of fifteen member countries with foreign countries in the field of trade settlement and investment disputes. Cameroon is also a member of MIGA. The wording of the concluded contract is of fundamental importance in the resolution of commercial disputes, where the method of dispute resolution should be directly enshrined. Disputes are settled in court or through arbitrators, locally or internationally. The parties can therefore agree on an independent arbitrator in the contract (either within OHADA or ICSIT). However, dispute resolution is usually costly and enforcement is difficult and time-consuming. A foreigner will always be at a disadvantage against a local entity. Furthermore, full knowledge of French law (English commercial law and local common law) and procedural customs is always required. Thus, the hope of winning a court case in Cameroon is quite problematic for foreigners. It is therefore fundamentally recommended to resolve the dispute by agreement or out-of-court settlement. Due to the number of frauds, it is always necessary to draw up a contract with a local lawyer and to conduct a thorough due diligence of the partner. In disputes between the Cameroonian state and a foreign company, local law respects the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague as the supreme arbitrator. Cameroonian law also recognizes the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes, established on the basis of the Convention of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development IBRD.
Visas, fees, specific conditions for traveling to the territory
Cameroon belongs to the countries with which the visa regime is in place. A visa is required to travel to this country.
The Cameroonian embassy in Moscow is territorially responsible for the Czech Republic (there is no Cameroonian embassy in the Czech Republic).
Embassy of the Republic of Cameroon
Povarskaya Street 40, Moscow
phone: 007495-690 65 49, 690 00 63
fax: 007495-690 61 16
office hours: Monday – Friday, 09.30 – 12.30, 13.00 – 16.30
It is also possible to apply for a visa at the Embassy of Cameroon in Berlin: Ulmenallee 32, 14050 Berlin, Germany,
An invitation from a Cameroonian company is required when applying for a business visa. In the case of a tourist visa, a confirmation of accommodation and possibly a letter from the inviting person confirming the accommodation is required. A return ticket and a bank statement are also required. The price for submitting an application for a short-term visa is approximately 100 Euros.
It is possible to travel from the Czech Republic to Cameroon by air with Air France, Brussels Airlines, Turkish Airlines. Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways and Royal Air Maroc also fly to Cameroon. ASKY connects Douala and Yaoundé with other capitals of West and Central African countries. Ceiba and ArikAir fly to Cameroon from some neighboring countries. Aero Contractors…). Local air transport is provided by CamairCo. It is recommended to have a pick-up at the airport and an escort by a local partner or acquaintance arranged in advance. The Republic of Cameroon is a tropical country with a number of dangerous tropical diseases (e.g. Chikungunya, Dengue). Before traveling to the countries of the West African region, every traveler should visit a professional doctor – a specialist in tropical diseases (in Prague, for example, the Clinic of Geographical Medicine of the Royal Vinohrady Hospital or the Center for Travel Medicine), where you can receive all the recommended vaccinations – against yellow fever (mandatory, confirmation is required at the airport), jaundice type A and B, typhoid, meningitis, cholera and tetanus. It is recommended to have antibodies against TB and polio checked before the trip and, if necessary, supplement these vaccinations as well. There is no vaccination against a very serious mosquito-borne tropical disease – malaria. For short-term stays, preliminary antimalarial prophylaxis is recommended, while individual derivatives develop resistance in the territory over time. Therefore, it is necessary to consult the type of antimalarial used before departure with a specialist in tropical diseases (as a last resort, contact the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Abuja). Common antimalarials used in Cameroon include Flansidar, Coartem and Artesum (the sale of Lariam is prohibited here). When the slightest symptoms of any disease (flu, angina, headaches, feelings of fatigue) appear, it is necessary to visit the nearest hospital and have a malaria test done. This is very simple (taking a blood sample) and quick – it takes about 15 minutes, including blood analysis. Medicines for ongoing malaria are freely available in Cameroon and are effective – the disease subsides within two to three days. It is essential not to let the disease develop (the incubation period of malaria is about a week) – then it can have fatal consequences. It can also be recommended to for the traveler to buy one pack of local antimalarial drugs in the destination country and take it back with him to the Czech Republic. Due to the incubation period, malaria can manifest itself only after returning to the homeland, and its occurrence and thus its treatment could cause problems in the Czech Republic.
Cameroon is a stable and relatively safe country, but the problems of neighboring countries are transferred to it. For this reason, travel to the border areas with the Central African Republic and Nigeria along the entire length of the border is not recommended. The situation in the northern part of the country, which borders the Nigerian states of Borno and Adamawa, is very dangerous – there is a threat of attacks and kidnappings by the Boko Haram sect. Except in absolutely necessary cases, it is therefore necessary to avoid trips to the area from Lake Chad to the city of Garoua. Although the political situation in Cameroon is stable, the situation can change rapidly in the event of the president’s health problems. Like everywhere else in sub-Saharan Africa, classic crime is on the rise in Cameroon, especially in the cities. It is therefore necessary to be careful, not to show off expensive jewelry or cameras, not to carry large sums of money with you. ZÚ Abuja does not recommend moving unaccompanied in the evening and at night and avoiding remote places, popular and port districts. It is also necessary to avoid mass gatherings, lock the car even while driving. Travel by car must be done in the light, driving at night is risky (banditry, unmarked roads, unlit vehicles, herds of cattle on the road, etc.). In the south (including the towns of Kribi and Limbe) piracy is spreading, and here you need to be extra careful. Before traveling, it is recommended to inform yourself about the current security situation in a specific area, or to inform ZÚ Abuja about your expected place of stay through the voluntary registration of DROZD. When traveling by car, police, sanitary and customs checks are very common. Officials often delay returning personal documents and expect bribes. It is recommended not to give the originals of the document to anyone and to submit only certified copies of the documents. We recommend travelers to voluntarily register in the Drozd system.
Employment of citizens from the Czech Republic
Large Cameroonian commercial and industrial companies routinely use foreign experts (still mainly French), who usually bring their know-how to the country for joint ventures. According to available information, in order to obtain a work permit for a future employee, the employer must submit to the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs a letter with a detailed job description, employment contract, employee health certificate, qualification certificate and employee CV, company organizational structure, company profile, founding agreement and overview of activities companies. To obtain a work visa, a foreigner must submit a letter from the employer with a detailed job description and an employment contract approved by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. The new Investment Act stipulates that the formalities associated with the issuance of a work visa and work permit will help solve the so-called Guichet Unique. Employment is governed by the Labor Code of 1992. It is based on the French model and very strongly protects the rights of employees. Among other things enacted the minimum wage (36,270 CFA), collective bargaining, regulates the resolution of labor disputes, employment of women and other requirements known from Europe. Employment issues are resolved at tripartite meetings. Although local labor is relatively cheap, it is often difficult to find sufficiently qualified and reliable employees.
Fairs and events
In Cameroon, every year in December, there is only one international trade fair, namely in Yaoundé – Tsinga (International Trade Fair).
Practical telephone numbers (emergency services, police, firemen, information lines, etc.)
In the event of a critical situation, you can also contact the Czech businessman R. Malíšek at [email protected], [email protected] R. Malíšek can also be contacted for possible verification of companies in Cameroon.
In Cameroon (especially in Douala and Yaoundé) there are good quality private clinics in operation (hospital overview; clinics in Cameroon). Even in the countryside, every village has at least an ambulatory infirmary to provide first aid (there are central clinics in provincial capitals). However, medical care must be paid here, travel insurance and its conditions must be agreed with the relevant insurance company in the Czech Republic. Quality travel insurance with the possibility of repatriation to Europe is recommended.
In case of serious health problems (especially around Douala), it is possible to contact the Honorary Consul of the Czech Republic, MUDr. I believe Yabéka.
– Police: 17 (117 from mobile) in Yaoundé, Douala and Garoua
– Firefighters: 18 (118 from mobile)
– first aid: 223 40 20 (Yaoundé), 342 68 68 (Douala)
– gendarmerie: 13 (113 from mobile) in the provinces of Centre, Littoral, Ouest and Nord-ouest
– security in Douala: +237 33 43 65 72
Important web links and contacts