Cameroon: ongoing civil war threatens business activities

Cameroon: ongoing civil war threatens business activities

Cameroon's ongoing civil war, which started in 2017 over socio-cultural disputes, has been thus far confined to the country’s western regions, however, it has the potential to escalate. An escalation would alter the operating dynamics and pose significant security challenges to organisations with interests in Cameroon. Thus, timely pre-emptive measures are advised.

Also known as the “Anglophone crisis”, the conflict started when English-speaking separatists launched an insurgency against the regular armed forces. In response, the government sent the army into the English-speaking “Southern Cameroons” regions to suppress dissent.

The first six months of 2023 saw an uptick in violence and repression, with journalists murdered and prominent local businessmen detained. In the near future domestic infighting over the succession of President Paul Biya, who is 90 years old and has been in office since 1982, could lead to the spread of the civil war throughout the whole nation.

Just as in Sudan, which recently plunged into a civil war, the country has a factionalised governing party and fragmented security forces. Additionally, Boko Haram operates with relative ease, and instability in the neighbouring Central African Republic threatens to spill over.

Various organisations, such as the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Norwegian Refugee Council, have already raised the alarm about the possible risks of a large civil war. However, no significant action has been taken either by the US or EU countries. Indeed, France, which has a historical interest in the country, has thus far shied away from attempting to offer a path to solve the conflict.

International non-governmental organisations and multinational enterprises operating in Cameroon are advised to closely monitor the situation and prepare contingency plans in case of a deteriorating security climate. Additionally, in order to mitigate potential disruptions and build redundancy, a review of the supply chain and logistical arrangements is recommended.

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