(Business in Cameroon) - Between 2012 and end-2020, the total balance sheet of commercial banks operating in the CEMAC region rose by XAF4,795 billion, according to a detailed analysis of the monetary statistics recently published by central bank BEAC.
This rise is due to a 6.2-fold increase in the net loans granted to the governments of member countries. According to the statistics published by the BEAC, that heading rose from XAF655.8 billion at end-2012 to XAF4,069.8 billion (at end-January 2021, it rose to XAF4,280 billion).
During the period under review, the credit to private economic actors (both in the financial and non-financial segments) also rose from XAF4,865 billion to 7,800 billion. As for the banks’ net assets, they dropped from XAF3,584 billion to 2,245 billion.
In light of that data, it can be concluded that the said commercial banks granted more loans to member countries’ public sector (+XAF3,413 billion during the period) than to private economic agents (+XAF2,935.5 billion during the period). Specifically, between 2019 and 2020, commercial banks’ loans to the public sector sharply rose from XAF2,147 billion as of January 1, 2019, to XAF4,070 billion as of December 31, 2020. On the other hand, the net loans to private economic agents are stagnating around the XAF7,500 billion level since 2015.
The commercial banks operating in Cameroon have played a significant part in the overall performance during the period, comforting the country’s position as a major financial actor in the CEMAC region. Indeed, as of end-2020, the total balance sheet of commercial banks operating in the country was 45% (against 32% in 2012) of the overall volume recorded in the CEMAC region.
Another important fact revealed by BEAC data is that over the period under review, commercial banks took most of the risks to fund private economic agents in the CEMAC region. Unlike the case in developed countries (like the USA and Japan) where central banks boosted their total balance sheet to support all the economic actors, the BEAC adopted a prudential approach. Its credits to the public sector rose 6-fold while its commitment towards private economic agents was insignificant during the period. Moreover, along with its foreign assets, its total balance even contracted during the period.