(Business in Cameroon) - Cameroon dominated the banking sector of the Cemac region in 2022. According to data reported by the central bank Beac, the country alone houses slightly over 2.8 million accounts open in bank records as of December 31, 2022. This represents 60% of the 4.7 million bank accounts recorded in the six CEMAC countries during the reviewed year.
Cameroon's supremacy in this segment is such that the number of bank accounts recorded in the country is double the total accounts in Congo, Gabon, and Chad combined. These three countries together display just over 1.4 million bank accounts in 2022, with 588,701 for Congo, 507,153 for Gabon, and only 314,850 bank accounts for Chad. Cameroon alone also hosts 28.8% of the banking network in the region.
The central bank's report reveals that Cameroon, with 15 banks out of the 52 licensed and active in the CEMAC zone at the end of December 2022 (note that the Banking Commission of Central Africa (COBAC) approved three new banks in 2022, all based in Cameroon), hosts as many banking institutions as Congo (10 banks) and Gabon (7 banks). Considering the 19 banks active in Cameroon by the end of 2023, with the recent approval of Africa Golden Bank owned by billionaire Samuel Foyou (the 8th bank controlled by nationals), Cameroon has as many banks as the CAR (4), Chad (10), and Equatorial Guinea (5).
The ambitions of SND30
The footprint and even the influence of Cameroon on the CEMAC banking sector are expected to be even more significant by 2030. This will be made possible through the achievement of the development objectives of the banking sector and population banking outlined in its National Development Strategy 2020-2030 (SND30). According to this planning document, Cameroon aspires to expand its banking network to reach 30 entities by 2030.
It is only at this horizon that Cameroon could hope to match the banking networks of countries with a similar level of development such as Côte d'Ivoire or Senegal. According to data from the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO), as of the end of March 2023, these two countries had 29 and 28 active banks, respectively.
The same source reveals that Côte d'Ivoire, for example, already had 4.59 million bank accounts in 2020 with 28 licensed banks, which is 1.8 million more accounts than Cameroon in 2022. The number of accounts across the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) in 2020 (15.4 million, up by 3 million over 2 years) more than triples the 4.7 million accounts recorded in CEMAC during the year 2022.