Cameroon Seeks To Permanently Cripple Boko Haram | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Cameroon Seeks To Permanently Cripple Boko Haram

Posted: Apr 1, 2016 at 2:23 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Economy Watch

Cameroon commenced a joint operation with Nigeria this week against Boko Haram along the northern border, according to the Associated Press. Cameroon has been plagued with numerous attacks as the government combats the terrorist organization in the northern region. The conflict displaced over 7,500 citizens, but the government hosts over 45,000 Nigerians who fled from their homeland.

The world is focused heavily on ISIS, but Boko Haram is a formidable enemy that poses an imminent threat to West Africa. Boko Haram, which forbids all forms of western education, seeks to upend western influence from the region and impose sharia law. Cameroon has been at the forefront of the fight, but has paid the ultimate price through suicide bombings and terror imposed on its citizenry.

One of the more recent attacks occurred in January 2016, when 25 people were killed in a suicide bombing. Cameroon is one of many nations combating Boko Haram, but fighting grows difficult as militants go underground and regroup after facing government forces. Cameroon has enjoyed decades of peace, but Boko Haram disrupted the West African country’s conflict-free track record.

The good news is that the organization grows weaker as Cameroon ramps up campaign efforts with the help of other countries, but drawbacks include civilian casualties and an increasing financial strain.

Economic Consequences

Boko Haram’s presence directly threatens the economy at large as traders suffer from marketplace closings and a shutdown of trade routes. The closings have left many people without work, and militants have stolen goods from farmers and traders while masquerading as merchants.

Boko Haram’s presence, however, is not a major destabilizing factor, as the organization’s foothold is relegated to the north, but the terrorists are a thorn that will continue to jeopardize Cameroon’s achievements throughout the decades.

Cameroon’s Plight

Cameroon has a stable economy when compared to other African economies, as it is less dependent on oil than many emerging markets. With that, oil exports comprise a major portion of the nation’s revenue share, and the economy remains dependent on the commodities sector.

Cameroon has a vast array of natural resources, ranging from oil to a rich agriculture sector that ships lucrative goods in the form of coffee and cocoa. The manufacturing sector improved exponentially throughout the 2000s, but industrial production is not strong enough to create a surplus of prosperity, and manufacturing is highly reliant on the agricultural sector to thrive successfully.

Cameroon reduced poverty in the 1990s and liberalized its economy, but became highly susceptible to price fluctuations on the world market, creating perpetual instability. Further, corruption is a major issue hampering development, and Cameroon ranks fairly high on the corruption index, according to The World Bank.

Additionally, Cameroon contends with a weakened governing structure, and such uncertainty prevents outside investors from taking a greater stake in the country. Aside from military campaigns, the government must also wage an economic war with Boko Haram, as many Cameroons have joined the organization due to a lack of opportunities.