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Executive Summary


The strength of the Cameroonian economy stems from its diversification, its geographic advantages, and natural resources, including its people. In 2017, Cameroon continued to attract foreign direct investment in hydro, oil and gas, transportation, and sports facilities – in particular stadiums and infrastructure for the Africa Cup of Nations 2019 soccer tournament. Cameroon has completed the construction of some key infrastructure, including the deep sea port of Kribi and a second bridge over the Wouri River in Douala. Unfortunately, most road and energy projects remain mired in red tape. Persistent dysfunction within the civil service and the legal system are major weaknesses. Administrative obstructionism and opaque, top-heavy decision-making on the part of the government remains a drag and systemic corruption scares some private sector investors.

The global collapse of commodity prices, combined with numerous domestic security threats, continues to negatively affect Cameroon’s external and fiscal balances. Cameroon’s donors acknowledge the country’s economic resilience, but public finances have deteriorated. In July 2017, Cameroon agreed to a three-year Extended Credit Facility (ECF) with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Cameroon is expected to improve its economic performance once the program concludes in 2020. The World Bank, the IMF, the African Development Bank, and the European Union continue to support Cameroon on legal and public finance reforms. In order to reduce the operational, legal, and financial risks that can develop in Cameroon, foreign investors often engage a reliable local partner or counsel to serve as an interface with officials or local suppliers.

Table 1

Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2017 153 of 180
World Bank’s Doing Business Report “Ease of Doing Business” 2018 163 of 190
Global Innovation Index 2017 117 of 127
U.S. FDI in partner country (M USD , stock positions) N/A N/A U.S. Census Bureau does not
have Cameroon specific data
World Bank GNI per capita 2017 USD 1,400

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Government of the Republic of Cameron (GRC) from the President on down regularly state that they want to attract more foreign direct investment, particularly in infrastructure. In 2017, the GRC undertook several initiatives to attract FDI, including the second annual Cameroon Investment Forum in Douala. President Biya attended the EU-Africa economic summit and visited France and China, with the aim of inviting greater investment inflows.

Cameroon does not have laws that prohibit, limit, or condition foreign investment in any sector of the economy. The investment code has a number of general minimum requirements, which can also qualify the investor for some benefits. Local content, specifically in terms of local jobs going to Cameroonians, is increasingly becoming a requirement of contracts, though not yet enshrined in law. In general terms, the four criteria, though not obligatory, required to benefit from the code are (i) the share of local staff employed, (ii) the percentage of sales derived from exports, (iii) the use of local natural resources and (iv) the value-added contribution to the economy.

The Cameroon Investment Promotion Agency (CIPA), in collaboration with other authorities, is in charge of implementing these measures. CIPA promotes the image of Cameroon abroad, contributes to the creation of an enabling business environment in Cameroon, proposes measures to attract investors, and tries to improve implementation of sector codes. The GRC prioritizes and maintains ongoing dialogue with investors through private-public formal and informal institutions. An example of these institutions is the Cameroon Business Forum, which works to improve the business climate. Another example is the Groupement Inter-Patronal du Cameroun (GICAM), Cameroon’s largest business group, which also works with government to address specific sectoral issues. The GRC also consults with businesses on a broad range of issues such as taxation and industrial and labor regulations.

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

In Cameroon, foreign businesses can set up and own their businesses independently. There are no compulsory requirements to have a local partner. Subject to specific sector regulations, companies can engage in all forms of remunerative activities. There are no limits to foreign ownership or control. The GRC is the main economic actor in dozens of sectors, including upstream oil, telecom infrastructure, and electricity production. These sectors have specific regulations detailing the conditions under which the private sector may invest. These regulations are not outright prohibitions, but the State may grant a license (telecom) or operate through a production sharing contract (oil and gas sector). The government may screen some investment proposals in the context of standard due diligence in order to verify the credentials and professional competence of investors or investing companies. The GRC does not impose restrictions on outward or inward investment.

If an investor is prohibited from owning an assets it has built in Cameroon, the public private partnership (PPP) framework offers opportunities for a “Build, Operate and Transfer” (BOT) model, which enables investors to recoup their investment over time. The PPP framework is the main model recommended for foreign direct investment in large infrastructure projects. The government PPP Commission claims to have approved PPP projects worth USD 500 million since its creation.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

In recent months, the GRC and donors have conducted several economic policy reviews in the aftermath of the oil price collapse. In June 2017, the IMF approved a USD 666 million, three-year extended credit facility (ECF) for Cameroon to support economic and financial reforms. The ECF should help Cameroon control deficits and boost growth.

Cameroon sovereign rating





Moody’s B2 Stable 2017
Fitch B Stable 2017
S&P B Stable 2017

Despite the continued crisis in the two Anglophone regions, Cameroon perception from international sovereign rating agency is stable for 2017-2018. Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s, and Fitch each forecast a “stable outlook” for Cameroon. Authorities have endeavored to reassure investors and donors by stating that the country is “borrowing cautiously and spending wisely.” Strong internal factors support Cameroon’s economic resilience.

Cameroon has immense natural resource potential, in oil and gas, mineral deposits, forests, and arable land. Agriculture, services, transportation, and oil and gas drive the economy. An emerging consumer culture holds promise. Over half the population is under 19. A small but growing urban middle class seek new technology and are increasingly brand conscious.

Cameroon important economic sectors and their contribution to the GDP (2017)


Key Sectors

percent of GDP








Extractive industry (Oil, Gas, Mining)



Public Administration






Banking and Finance






Information & Communication Technology



Real Estate and Infrastructure Construction



Utilities (Electricity, Water)



Tourism, Media and Leisure


Business Facilitation

In order to facilitate the creation of new enterprises, Cameroon has business creation centers around the country. These are known in French as the Centres de Formalites de Creation d’Entreprises (CFCE ), which can finalize the creation of a new enterprise within 72 hours. The CFCE also provides start-up tool kits for new entrepreneurs, and is referred to as a “one stop shop” for small- and medium-sized companies. Cameroon is also a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law and Accounting in Africa (known by its French Acronym OHADA, or Organisation pour l’harmonisation en Afrique du droit des affaires). OHADA aims to create a better investment climate by regional standardization of laws to attract investment and to foster more economic growth in the markets of the 17 OHADA member countries.

Cameroon’s Ministry of Small- and Medium-size Enterprises is developing an online business registration process. The government is assisted in this project by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). More information can be found on .

The Institute of National Statistics provides quantitative indicators on the economy and sectors. 

2. Bilateral Investment Agreements and Taxation Treaties

  • Belgium-Luxembourg: Convention between the Union Belgo-Luxembourg Union for the reciprocal promotion and protection of investments 1980
  • Canada: Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) in Toronto on March 3, 2014
  • China: Bilateral Investment Treaty Agreement signed on May 10, 1997
  • Egypt: Memorandum of Understanding with the General Authority for Investment
  • Germany: Treaty between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Federal Republic of
  • Cameroun concerning the encouragement of investments, 1962
  • Guinea: Mutual discussions and framework agreement
  • Italy: Economic, technical and financial development cooperation Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Italy and the Government of the Republic of Cameroon, 1989
  • Mali: Cultural Agreement and Commercial agreement signed March 17, 1964 in Bamako
  • Mauritania: Framework agreement for general bilateral cooperation following recognition after independence
  • Mauritius: Framework agreement for general bilateral cooperation following recognition after independence
  • Morocco: Economic and technical cooperation agreement signed in Rabat on June 25, 1974
  • Netherlands: Agreement signed in 1967
  • Romania: Agreement between the Government of the Socialist Republic of Romania and the Government of the Republic of Cameroon on the mutual promotion and protection of investments (August 30, 1980)
  • Switzerland: Cameroon-Switzerland Bilateral Investment Treaty signed in 1964
  • Turkey: Turkey and Cameroon signed a number of agreements, including Cultural and Scientific Cooperation Agreement on (March 06, 2002), Trade, Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement on (March 04, 2002), Joint Economic Commission Protocol on (July 08, 2003)
  • United Kingdom: Agreement between Great Britain and the Government of the United Republic of Cameroon for the Promotion and Protection of Investments March 04, 1982
  • United States of America: The United States and Cameroon signed a Bilateral Investment Treaty in 1986 that entered into force in 1989

Cameroon does not have a Free Trade Agreement or a Bilateral Tax Treaties with the United States.

4. Industrial Policies

Cameroon’s 2013 investment law lists several types of investment incentives for investors and specifies the conditions that they have to meet in order to benefit from these incentives ( The law lays down incentives applicable to Cameroonian or foreign legal entities, whether or not established in Cameroon, conducting business therein, or holding shares in Cameroonian companies, with a view to encourage private investment and boost national production. In addition, any investor may benefit from a tax credit provided he or she meets one of the following criteria: (1) employs at least five university graduates each year, (2) combats pollution, and (3) develops public interest activities in rural areas. The law seeks to facilitate, promote, and attract productive investment in order to develop activities geared towards strong, sustainable, and shared economic growth. In a context where businesses have to navigate between national and regional incentives, U.S. companies and investors must seek local and regional expertise if they plan to operate in CEMAC.

According to the code, investors enjoy the following benefits during establishment phase, which may not exceed five years:

  • Exemption from stamp duty on establishment or capital increase;
  • Exemption from stamp duty if immovable property is used exclusively for professional purposes and is an integral part of the investment program;
  • Exemption from transfer taxes on the acquisition of immovable property, land, and buildings essential for the implementation of the investment program;
  • Exemption from stamp duty on contracts for the supply of equipment and construction of buildings and installations, that are essential for the implementation of their investment program;
  • Full deduction of technical assistance fees in proportion to the amount of the investment made, calculated on the basis of the total amount of the investment;
  • Exemption from VAT on the provision of services related to the execution of the project and obtained from abroad,
  • Exemption from stamp duty on concession contracts;
  • Exemption from business license tax;
  • Exemption from taxes and duties on all equipment and materials related to the investment program; and
  • Exemption from VAT on the importation of equipment and materials.

During the operation phase (which cannot exceed 10 years), further exemptions from or reductions of other taxes (including corporate tax), duties (such as stamp duty on loans) and other fees are granted.

Subject to the fulfillment of the obligations incumbent on them, notably with respect to the exchange rate regime and the tax legislation, investors may enjoy the following benefits:

  • The right to open, in Cameroon and abroad, local and foreign currency accounts and to carry out transactions on such accounts;
  • The right to freely use, and/or keep abroad, funds acquired or borrowed abroad, and to freely use such;
  • The right to freely keep abroad dividends and proceeds of any kind from capital invested, as well as proceeds from the liquidation or sale of their assets;
  • The right to directly pay abroad non-resident suppliers of goods and services essential for conduct of business; and
  • Free transfer of dividends and proceeds from the sale of shares in case of disinvestment.

Also, with respect to foreign staff employed by the investor and resident in Cameroon, they shall enjoy free conversion and free transfer (to their country of origin) of all or part of the amounts due them, subject to prior payment of various taxes and social security contributions for which they are liable in compliance with the regulations in force. Finally, the GRC has instituted facilities necessary for the establishment of a specific visa and reception counter at all airports for investors, subject to their presentation of a formal invitation from the body in charge of investment promotion of Small and Medium sized Enterprise (SMEs).

There are additional incentives in priority economic sectors. In addition to the above-mentioned incentives, specific incentives may be provided to enterprises which carry out investments that contribute to the attainment of the following priority objectives:

  • Development of agriculture, fisheries, livestock sectors as well as plant, animal, or fishery product packaging activities;
  • Development of tourism and leisure facilities, social economy, and handicrafts;
  • Development of housing, including social housing;
  • Promotion of agro-industry, manufacturing industries, industry, construction materials, iron and steel industry, construction, maritime and navigation activities;
  • Development of energy and water supply;
  • Encouragement of regional development and decentralization;
  • The fight against pollution and environmental protection;
  • Promotion and transfer of innovative technologies and research and development;
  • Promotion of exports; and
  • Promotion of employment and vocational training.

Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation

In Cameroon, Foreign Trade Zones (FTZs) are demarcated and fenced geographic areas, with controlled access, where some standard trade barriers, tariffs, quotas, or other bureaucratic requirements are lowered or removed completely to attract investments. Cameroon passed a special law instituting FTZs in 1990. Applications for authorization to establish industrial free trade zones are submitted to the National Office for FTZs and are authorized by the Minister in Charge of Industrial Development. Some of the benefits of the FTZs are built into the commercial, fiscal, custom, and labor codes. The status of FTZs have not changed since the last reporting period.

Performance and Data Localization Requirements

The GRC does not mandate local employment except as an incentive to entice foreign investment, but it does encourage investors to create jobs and employ local labor. These are not compulsory and there are no legal restrictions on senior management and boards of directors, although local content (goods, raw materials, technology, and labor) tends to ease bureaucratic burdens. Prospective investors and their employees can travel to Cameroon on standard business visas. The fees may vary per country of application. Once settled in Cameroon, investors can apply for long-term residence permits. Companies have complained about the difficulty of obtaining work permits and that work visas expire after six months and frequently are single entry. Long-term work permits are technically available, but are exceedingly rare.

Enforcement procedures for performance requirements are not yet standardized. The government generally develops terms of reference on a case by case basis for contract performance. Cases of forced localization have not been reported and the GRC has not stated any intentions to maintain, increase, or decrease performance requirements. Foreign information technology providers are not required to turn over source code and/or provide access to encryption. They can be required to provide such data in cases of cybercrime under the national cybercrime law. The same legal principle applies to the transfer of business-related data. All cellphone users have a legal requirement to register their phone number with the government.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Interests in property are recognized in the law. For mortgage transactions between two private parties, a proper contract is required for the agreement to be binding and enforceable in the courts. Liens must be recorded in the contract. A registry of land title exists in Cameroon. The land rights of indigenous peoples, tribes, or farmers are recognized in the Constitution. Records from the Ministry of Lands, Surveys, and State Property indicate that land registration rates have not significantly increased since colonial times.

Between 1884 and 2005 only 125,000 title deeds were issued. On average, this represents approximately 1,000 titles per year, covering less than 2 percent of the land in Cameroon. In 2009, a study by the African Development Bank identified that formal land registration is more common in urban (60 perecnt of total) than in rural areas. Existing legislation does not discriminate against foreign land owners, but land disputes are common between Cameroonian citizens. The disputes are generally caused by non-respect of commercial sales contracts or by informal sales of land. Illegal occupation of land is also common. Globally, Cameroon stands at 177 in the ranking of 190 economies on the ease of registering property.

Intellectual Property Rights

The legal structure for Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and corresponding enforcement mechanisms are weak. Infringement on IPR is especially common in the media, pharmaceutical, software, and print industries. No new laws have been enacted and IPR protection remains uniformly weak. The country occasionally seizes and publicly burns counterfeit goods, but these actions are not systematically documented, and no cumulative data exists on the seizures. Imported counterfeit goods, such as fake luxury watches, clothes, DVDs, and music CDs are prevalent in the local market. Customs officers have authority to seize, store, and then eventually destroy these counterfeit goods, but have no leverage over the countries of origin, notably China, India, Nigeria, and Pakistan and are susceptible to corruption. Cameroon is not listed in the 2017 Special 301 Report.

Cameroon is a member of the African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI) and hosts its headquarters in Yaounde. The organization ensures the protection of intellectual property rights in most Francophone African countries. Individuals and companies can register their IP and brands directly at the OAPI.

IPR protections are deteriorating in Cameroon because of the influence of supply countries such as China and India, both of which illegally export volumes of counterfeit goods. For additional information about treaty obligations and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at . Cameroon is not listed on the Notorious Markets List 2017.

6. Financial Sector

Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment

Cameroon is open to foreign investment and has been able to attract global brands. U.S. companies such as General Electric, Boeing, and Oracle have projects in the country. There are no governmental restrictions at this time and no policy obstructions are interfering in the investment markets. In October 2016, JP Morgan led senior executives from five investment management companies to Cameroon. These investment firms – Franklin Templeton Investments, Fidelity, Lazard Asset Management, Grantham Mayo van Otterloo & Co. and Alliance Bernstein have about USD 145 million invested in Cameroon. Another group of prospective investors led by Citibank visited Cameroon in late October 2016. Collectively, this group has at least three major U.S. funds have invested USD 145 million in Cameroon’s first Eurobond, issued in 2015.

The Douala Stock Exchange (DSX) is one of the youngest stock exchanges in Sub-Saharan Africa. Created in 2001, it currently has only three companies and five sovereign bonds listed. The regulatory system of the DSX permits portfolio investment, but the market is still in its infancy, suffering from low liquidity and bureaucratic inertia.

International capital market actors, including private equity firms, operate in Cameroon, enabling Cameroon to connect with larger international investors. There are also major bank credit instruments available on the open market and venture capital operations are gaining traction in the business sector. Foreign investors can get credit on the local market and the private sector has access to a variety of credit instruments. Cameroon is connected to international banking payment systems and there are no government restrictions on payments or transfers. The banking system is regulated by the regional Bank of Central African States (BEAC). The bank follows IMF standards.

Money and Banking System

The banking sector is regulated, but financial institutions tend to suffer from under-performance on local debt and un-serviced loans from both commercial and individual debtors. Less than 10 percent of Cameroonians have access to banking services. According to the World Bank, non-performing loans were 10.31 percent of total bank loans in 2016. Local banks include:

  1. Afriland First Bank Group (USD 2.3 billion in assets)
  2. Banque Internationale pour l’Epargne et le Credit (USD 2.1 billion)
  3. Societe Generale Cameroun (USD 972 million in Cameroon, global assets of EUR 1.308 trillion)
  4. Standard Chartered Bank Cameroon (USD 706 million)
  5. Ecobank (USD 508 million in Cameroon, global USD 22.5 billion)

BEAC serves the CEMAC region, which includes Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of Congo ( ). BEAC has been in operation since 1972, although rocked by embezzlement scandals in 2009 and 2010. The current governor of BEAC is Abbas Mahamat Tolli (from Chad).

There are no restrictions on foreigners establishing bank accounts, credit instruments, business financing, or other such transactions. Rules on all forms of mergers and acquisitions, including hostile, are governed by OHADA and are detailed in a lengthy body of commercial, legal, and accounting codes.

Foreign Exchange and Remittances

There are no restrictions or limitations placed on foreign investors in converting, transferring, or repatriating funds associated with an investment. Funds may be converted to any currency. The national (regional) currency, the Central African CFA Franc (CFA) is pegged to the Euro and fixed at a specific rate. BEAC follows IMF standards and its authority is independent of member state influence.

Cameroon has not passed any laws which change or tighten access to foreign exchange for investment remittances. There are no time limitations on transactions beyond the classic banking transactions timeline. Remittance policies and banking transactions are regulated by the regional Central Bank. Foreign investors can remit through convertible and negotiable instruments using legal channels recognized by the regional central bank. Any incidence of currency manipulation tactics is handled by the regional central bank.

Domestically, the remittance market is expanding. Cameroon currently counts more than six million registered mobile money subscribers. In addition, 1.5 million people are using four different digital solutions currently offered by banks and mobile phone companies, namely ATM, mobile wallet, mobile debit card, and website. These systems support various forms of remittances and financial services. Cameroon does not have a sovereign wealth fund.

7. State-Owned Enterprises

The Government of the Republic of Cameroon has over 130 state-owned companies (SOEs) in which it has majority ownership, and which operate in eight key sectors of the economy, including agribusiness, energy, and mining. SOEs are also present in real estate, transportation, services, information & communication, finance, and tourism.

In Cameroon, an SOE is an enterprise partly or totally owned by the GRC. Some SOEs are profit oriented (70 percent), while others are set up to provide public services. Because of their quasi-monopoly status, several SOEs are so dominant in their sector that they act as de facto regulators, with telecommunications giant CAMTEL serving as the most notable example. Data on SOEs’ research and development and their share of public contracts is not publicly available. Inside the GRC’s portfolio of companies, there are intricate cross-holdings, whereby various state institutions mutually hold equities in SOEs. Shareholders in SOEs include the National Hydrocarbons Company (SNH), the Hydrocarbon Price Stabilization Fund, and the National Social Security Fund, which together have stakes in more than 30 state-owned entities. The largest holdings are controlled by National Investment Company (NIC) with shares in more than 32 enterprises. In 2010, the NIC valued the GRC’s stakes to be worth USD 516 million.

Operationally, the private sector enjoys technological competitive advantages and flexibility to respond to market conditions that bureaucratic and over-staffed SOEs cannot replicate. Delivery of products and services to the markets still depends on price-competitiveness and quality of goods offered, so inferior SOE products and services (e.g. Internet, cable television, and cellular telephone offerings) face legitimate private-sector competition. SOEs can source equipment, purchase goods, and acquire services from the private sector, including providers in the United States.

Financially, some SOEs have a legal ability to contract debt and, in so doing, generate contingent liabilities for the State. They also have a history of accumulating unpaid tax arrears while at the same time benefitting from preferential access to land and to public funds through state subventions. The Audit Chambers of the Supreme Court of Cameroon indicates in its yearly reports that SOEs are not financially transparent. Only about 22 percent of these structures publish financial accounts. Other reports have highlighted corruption cases involving managers of SOEs and unveiled inefficiencies, severe dysfunctions, and opacity of management. These problems are exacerbated by the fact that over the past years, the government has not imposed any performance targets, productivity requirements, or any significant budget constraints on SOEs. The governing boards and senior executive teams are political appointees and connected individuals; they have the means to avoid tax burdens levied on private enterprises, receive specialized consideration for subsidies, and enhanced operating budgets. They generally obtain preferential treatment from the government (including courts).

Cameroon is an observer under the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Government Procurement but SOEs are de factor or de jure able to acquire a larger percentage of government contracts/business than their private sector competitors, as it is not clear if SOEs are covered under the agreement.

OECD Guidelines on Corporate Governance of SOEs

In Cameroon, ownership in SOEs is regulated by laws. The government claims that its regulations and codes comply with international standards, but over the past two decades the regulations and codes governing SOEs have become obsolete since they were introduced when the GRC was the dominant economic actor in most sectors. Since then, new actors, notably domestic and international private companies, have emerged but are finding it difficult to compete in a landscape where the GRC maintains specific privileges in the name of the public good on behalf of non-transparent SOEs.

Although individual SOEs are generally placed under the tutelage of a sector ministry, the entire portfolio is heavily centralized. Management reports to the line ministries, but the President, who also determines the corporate governance structures, directly appoints the board of directors. The Technical Committee for Rehabilitation within the Ministry of Finance is responsible for financial surveillance. Most board members are former ministers or leading members of the central committee of the ruling party. In most cases they do not have the expertise, experience, or even a sound understanding of the enterprise or sector. This misalignment of competence affects the performance of SOEs. In a 2016 report, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) observed that the profitability and financial autonomy of SOEs have deteriorated in recent years, draining scarce budget resources, partly because of weak corporate governance.

Privatization Program

Cameroon enacted major privatization policies in the 1990s and early 2000s under the purview of international donors such as the IMF and the World Bank. The process has been stalled for over a decade, but market pressures continue to mount for additional privatization efforts. The GRC had stakes in 171 entities in 2004. Since then, 30 companies had been privatized. An additional list of 10 companies has been scheduled for privatization since 2005 (examples CAMAIRCO, CAMTEL, SCDP, SODECOTON).

In general privatization appears to be on hold. The government favors Public Private Partnerships (PPP) or some variations of outsourcing of contractual management, with the State retaining some ownership of assets or of the business, rather than outright privatization. In some cases, the State also prefers to participate in ventures, such as mining companies, rather than creating a state-owned company.

This is evident in the oil and gas sector, where the government has a dominant presence in extraction, refinement, distribution, and storage of oil and gas. Similar dominant positions exist in other sectors of the economy – particularly transport. The GRC controls the vast majority of transport infrastructure (airports, seaports, and road networks) through companies such as Cameroonian Airline Company (Camair Co), Cameroonian Shipping Lines (CAMSHIP), Cameroon Shipyard and Industrial Engineering Ltd. (CNIC), and Cameroon Rail Network (CAMRAIL).

Moreover, in addition to the 119 state-owned enterprises featured in a recent IMF survey (2015), the GRC has expanded its foothold in the most important economic sectors. In financial services, the GRC is creating two new banks to fund agriculture and provide finance for small and medium size enterprises. These new State-funded banks will compete with 13 already existing domestic and international private banks. In the energy sector, the government created the Cameroon Electricity Transport Company (SONATREL), a wholly State-owned company, to manage electricity infrastructure. Similar plans are underway to allow the Electricity Development Corporation of Cameroon (EDC) to become a water marketer for hydroelectric dam operators. In manufacturing, the GRC is setting up a fertilizer plant with a German firm, an agricultural tractor assembly plant with India, and cement factories with Nigerian and Moroccan firms. In some sectors, the State’s dominant position distorts the competitive landscape.

Foreign investors can participate in the privatization programs. According to some analysts, of the 30 State-owned companies privatized by 2004, the majority (22) were won by foreign bidders. The public bidding on tender offers is transparent. They are advertised in the media, but the actual process of awarding contracts may still be tainted by corruption, particularly on very large scale projects. The listing of public tenders in the Cameroon Tribune newspaper and publication of which firms received the contract will not, in and of themselves, result in a fully transparent process of awards. Many other practical problems may continue years after the contract has been granted. This is the case in some large government projects where the government has accumulated arrears payments to major road construction companies causing delays and, in some cases, severe financial stress to the contractors.

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Responsible business conduct is not regulated by law in Cameroon. However, the Government of the Republic of Cameroon has enacted laws that cover issues related to what is locally considered corporate social responsibility. There are additional initiatives in the private sector to foster a culture of corporate social responsibility. All major infrastructure projects in Cameroon are compelled to conduct an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) to establish the impact of the projects on people and nature. Cameroon’s ESIA law strives to follow World Bank standards. A master law from 1996 related to environmental management prescribes environmental impact assessment for all projects that can cause environmental degradation. The ESIA is fast becoming an important and unavoidable compliance step for foreign and domestic companies. Cameroon is also compliant with the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).

Cameroon works with non-governmental organizations and multilateral partners in the private sector to improve, monitor, and promote the effectiveness of legislation and the enforcement of laws on human rights. The country has a human rights commission, which strives to educate people, institutions, and the private sector on these issues. However, the country faces challenges when it comes to implementing these principles in general, because of the dysfunctions in the legal systems, or when human right issues intercept with domestic political issues. In addition, the OHADA laws have provisions for corporate governance, transparent accounting, and fair executive compensation standards to protect shareholders.

9. Corruption

Corruption is punishable under sections 134 and 134 (a) of the Pena1 code of Cameroon. From November 2012 to December 2015, 112 serious cases of corruption went to court. Since then, at least 14 more officials have been arrested and are on trial for corruption and embezzlement of public funds. A March 2018 cabinet reshuffle was widely viewed as an anti-corruption purge. Since inception, the Special Criminal Tribunal has handled over 123 cases and recovered USD 5.5 million worth of state funds. Most legal observers estimate that this amount is minute compared to the huge sums allegedly stolen. The cases have revealed complex levels of collusion inside and outside the civil service. Factors such as dysfunction within the civil service, an ambient environment of conflicts-of-interests, notably in government procurement, and weak supervision all fuel embezzlement. Many corruption convictions are viewed as political score settling.

U.S. firms indicate that corruption is pervasive in government procurement, award of licenses or concessions, transfers, performance requirements, dispute settlement, regulatory system, customs, and taxation. The private sector is also infected although public institutions have historically been more vulnerable to corruption. The government has introduced anti-corruption mechanisms and measures for all economic actors, but provides little support to whistle blower cases and especially non-governmental organizations. In recent years, private companies have initiated their own peer anti-corruption sensitization measures. Cameroon is signatory to the United Nations and the African Union anti-corruption initiatives, but these international initiatives have limited effects on the enforcement of laws in the country. The Business Coalition against Corruption (BCAC) is rapidly growing in private-sector membership and influence.

In the Civil Service, cronyism, nepotism, and tolerance for serious conflicts of interest abound. The government declares that it is committed to fighting corruption, but appears overwhelmed by this daunting task, or complicit in the system of clientelism that harbors corrupt actors. In some extreme instances, civil servants blatantly violate laws and then offer bribes to State inspectors so that they are not investigated and prosecuted. It is a vicious cycle that perpetuates itself in an environment of apparent impunity. Officially, bribes are prohibited and the State has many institutions that are supposed to fight against systemic corruption. Cameroon has signed many international anti-corruption agreements, but the scourge continues to plague the civil service at almost every level with private companies paying a heavy price.

Resources to Report Corruption

Reverend Dieudonne MASSI GAMS
National Anti-Corruption Commission
B.P. 33200 Yaounde Cameroon
(+237) 22 20 37 32

Charles NGUINI
Country Representative
Transparency International Cameroon
Nouvelle route Bastos, rue 1.839, BP : 4562 Yaounde
(+237) 33 15 63 78

10. Political and Security Environment

In 2014, Cameroon experienced its first terrorist attacks at the hands of Boko Haram and subsequently declared war on the group. In July 2016, Boko Haram split into two factions, with one declaring allegiance to the Islamic State and calling itself ISIS-West Africa (ISIS-WA), and the other retaining the name Boko Haram (which means, roughly: Western education forbidden by Islamic law). Boko Haram has used women and young girls and – recently – the elderly, as suicide bombers to attack population centers, striking Muslims and non-Muslims indiscriminately. ISIS-WA, on the other hand, has focused on attacking security installations and non-Muslim targets in the Lake Chad Region.

The Southwest and Northwest regions of Cameroon are Anglophone and make up roughly 20 percent of the population. They have a number of legitimate grievances against the central government and the Francophone majority dating from independence. Roughly a year after strikes led by Anglophone lawyers and teachers began; there were on October 1, 2017, mass protests in larger cities and multiple protester deaths at the hands of security forces, though confirmed numbers remain elusive. Violence against security forces increased dramatically starting in November 2017, with insurgents killing more than 40 military and police elements. Villagers have begun seeking refuge in Nigeria and other Cameroonian regions

A subset of the Anglophone protest movement has called for secession from Cameroon, which President Biya has said will never be considered. Distorted, exaggerated statements on social media and fake news on both sides characterize the dispute, making it difficult to sort truth from fiction. In response to the increased violence, the GRC asked the Government of Nigeria to arrest the self-proclaimed Interim Government of the Federal Republic of Ambazonia – the name the secessionists have given to their desired country – in Abuja. On January 5, the Government of Nigeria complied and subsequently allowed Cameroonian forces to forcibly return 47 secessionist leaders, including the group’s President, Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, to Yaounde.

It is estimated that more than 275,000 refugees from the Central African Republic (CAR) have flooded into Cameroon over the last four years, with most settling near the country’s eastern border. The sparsely populated, densely forested area was already one of Cameroon’s poorest, and despite considerable international humanitarian assistance, with the United States in the lead, the suffering remains immense. According to a UNICEF report in July 2017, “the majority of new refugees are moving towards rapid remunerative activities that are often harmful to children, such as the economic exploitation of children (including child labor in gold mines and sex for survival for young adolescents) or serious criminality.” The desperate situation has created serious tension in affected communities and has severely strained government resources in the area. In spite of the challenges, it is a credit to Cameroon that they host these refugees, as well as about 93,000 from Nigeria and another 21,000 from other countries. Cameroon is also struggling with approximately 225,000 people internally displaced by the conflict with Boko Haram.

11. Labor Policies and Practices

Officially, the unemployment rate is 3.8 percent, but in reality it is much higher. Under-employment is even worse and remains a challenge for Cameroon, with estimated rates of upwards of two thirds among informal workers being affected. The majority of youth who are qualified are under-employed in the informal sector. Unskilled labor is prevalent in the agricultural and service sector.

There are shortages of technical trade skills in every sector of the economy. Truck and automotive maintenance is widely practiced in the informal sector, but few have formal training. Rudimentary agriculture, fishing, and textile manufacture are still in need of significant development, and a lack of skilled workers tends to be the norm across the country. The GRC does not require companies to hire nationals. However, foreign nationals are required to obtain work permits prior to formal employment. While foreign nationals are automatically issued work permits for companies in the industrial free zones regime, their number may not exceed 20 percent of the total work force of a company after the fifth year of operation in Cameroon if benefiting from the IFZ regime.

Although union and contract agreements vary from sector to sector, in general Cameroon functions as an employment at will economy, and labor laws differentiate between layoffs and firing. Layoffs are not caused by the fault of the employees. Layoffs are considered an alternative solution to dismissing workers based on performance, fault, or economic grounds. There is no special treatment of labor in special economic zones, foreign trade zones, or free ports. While the Labor Code applies to enterprises operating in IFZs, special provisions govern some matters under the 1990 law establishing IFZs. These include the employer’s right to determine salaries according to productivity, free negotiation of work contracts, and automatic issuance of work permits for foreign workers. The Ministry of Labor monitors labor abuses, health and safety standards, and other related issues, but enforcement is poor. IFZs can waive labor laws to attract or retain investment.

There are independent labor unions affiliated with the government under existing laws and regulations. Over 100 trade unions and 12 union confederations operate in the country. However, the labor union movement is highly fractured and somewhat ineffective in promoting workers’ rights. Some union leaders accuse the government and company managers of promoting divisions within trade unions to weaken them, as well as protecting non-representative trade union leaders with whom they can negotiate more easily.

Cameroon’s labor dispute resolution mechanisms are outlined in the labor code. The procedure differs depending on whether the dispute is individual or collective. Individual disputes fall under the jurisdiction of the civil court dealing with labor matters in the place of employment or residence of the worker. The legal procedure is initiated after the labor inspector fails to settle the dispute amicably out of the court system. Settlement of collective labor disputes is subject to conciliation and arbitration, and any strike or lock-out started after the procedures have been exhausted and have failed is deemed legitimate. While the conciliation procedure is conducted by the labor inspector, arbitration of any collective dispute that has not been settled by conciliation is handled by an arbitration board, chaired by the competent judicial officer of the competent court of appeal. Workers who ignore procedures to conduct a legal strike can be dismissed or fined. ILO has the most updated information on unions in Cameroon ( ).

The law provides for the rights to collective bargaining as a means to regulate labor relations between employers and workers. Workers are allowed to bargain collectively and re-negotiate past collective agreements from time to time. In case of an inability to conclude a collective agreement, the National Labor Advisory Board can issue a decree to establish a minimum wage for a particular occupation. In the context of rampant poverty, labor disputes tend to have socio-political ramifications beyond the boundaries of simple legal employment contracts. In February 2008, a strike by transportation workers who were opposing high fuel prices and poor working conditions triggered a series of violent demonstrations in Cameroon. In response to the protests, the government reduced the cost of fuel, reduced the duties paid on cement, suspended duties on essential goods such as cooking oil, fish and rice, and raised salaries of civil servants and military personnel.

The labor code differentiates between layoffs and firing (with severance). In all cases of dismissal, it shall be up to the employer to demonstrate that the grounds for dismissal are well founded. Whenever a contract of employment of unspecified duration is terminated without notice or without the full period of notice being observed, the responsible party shall pay to the other party compensation corresponding to the remuneration, including any bonuses and allowances which the worker would have received for the period of notice not observed. However, in most cases implementation of these decisions takes many years of negotiations often involving the Ministry of Labor, courts and social services.

The Cameroonian labor market continues to be dominated by a large informal sector. According to the World Bank, a large section of the work force earns its living in the informal sector. Over 70 percent of jobs in the agriculture sector are performed informally. Other economic sectors which continue to feed this labor informality are telecommunications, manufacturing, construction, banking, and the hotel industry. The formal private sector and the public sector employ four percent and six percent of the workforce, respectively. Informality is often decried but it has brought flexibility and resilience to the labor market and represents a social safety valve. Cameroon labor code lays down principles regarding employment, dismissal, remedies for wrongful dismissal, compensation for industrial injuries, and trade unions. But most jobs do not have binding contracts and employers – particularly the politically-well connected – seem to hold most of the cards in labor disputes. Even in the formal sector, most jobs lack required protections for workers. Despite this landscape, it is important for U.S. companies to ensure compliance with local labor laws and to abide by international best practices.

There is a gap in the supply and demand for labor in Cameroon. Often skills and qualifications do not match the needs of companies. This stems from the inadequacy or obsoleteness of the content of the educational system. While Cameroon has schools that can produce good engineers and doctors, there are few schools which provide training for technicians such as welders, plumbers, computer technicians, and maintenance workers. Cameroon does not impose the hiring of nationals although some level of local content and transfer of skills tend to be positively perceived as elements of corporate social responsibility. There is no direct linkage between the labor code and incentives for FDI which are stipulated in a different law. The government expects foreign companies to abide by Cameroonian law. In theory, the labor code provides a legal framework for an efficient labor market, but such a market has yet to fully emerge. Cameroon is a party to ILO Conventions 87 and 98 permitting the freedom to form unions and the right to collective bargaining, respectively.

In general, any individual dispute arising from a contract of employment between workers and their employers or from a contract of apprenticeship shall fall within the jurisdiction of the court dealing with the labor disputes in accordance with the legislation on judicial organization. In Cameroon, trade unions are not strong. For this reason, collective bargaining agreements are relatively rare. The OHADA corporate laws have additional provisions for dispute resolution. However, dysfunctions in the legal systems can create gaps in compliance or practice with international labor standards. The ILO works with the Cameroonian government on issues such as the prevention of child labor and trafficking in person, which contributes to the alignment of Cameroon laws with international labor standards.

12. OPIC and Other Investment Insurance Programs

Cameroon and OPIC signed an Investment Guarantee and an Investment Incentive Agreement in 1967. In recent years and with this agreement, OPIC has been able to provide insurance and contribute to an increased access to finance for Cameroonian farmers and small and medium sized enterprises. The current exchange rate for the U.S. dollar is CFA 567/ USD 1.

Cameroon has ambitious development plans and hopes to become a middle income economy by 2035. The government has published a list of 80 large infrastructure projects covering many sectors that would help achieve that goal. Cameroonian officials have officially invited U.S. companies to bid and support them in the execution of these projects, but the government has been slow to move on many of these projects. Nonetheless, these projects offer good business opportunities for OPIC’s continued involvement in Cameroon.

13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy

Host Country Statistical Source

USG or International Statistical Source

USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other

Economic Data





Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (M USD )


USD 30,400


USD 32,200 

Foreign Direct Investment

Host Country Statistical Source

USG or International Statistical Source

USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other

U.S. FDI in partner country (M USD , stock positions)





BEA data not available for Cameroon

Host country’s FDI in the United States (M USD , stock positions)





BEA data not available for Cameroon

Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP





BEA data not available for Cameroon

Sources and Destination of FDI

Although the Ministry of Economy publishes gross figures of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in investment promotion publications, the country does not feature on the IMF’s Coordinated Direct Investment Survey (CDIS) site ( ). There is no data on Cameroon either on the IMF’s Coordinated Portfolio Investment Survey (CPIS) site ( ).

The IMF relies on country authorities to submit data for this survey and the Mission is initiating talks with Cameroonian authorities to encourage the government to assist the IMF in the data collection and uploading process. At this time, fields in the provided tables are Not Applicable.

Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI

Data not available.

Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment

Data not available.

14. Contact for More Information

Jonathan Baas
Deputy Chief of the Political and Economic Section
U.S. Embassy Yaounde, Rosa Parks Ave, Yaounde, Cameroon


Executive Summary

Nigeria’s economy – Africa’s largest – exited recession in 2017, assisted by the Central Bank’s more rationalized foreign exchange regime. Growth is expected to remain weak in the near term however – the IMF forecasts growth of 2.1 percent percent in 2018 and 1.9 percent in 2019, well under Nigeria’s population growth rate of around 2.5 percent. With the largest population in Africa (estimated at over 190 million), Nigeria continues to represent a large consumer market for investors and traders. A very young country with nearly two-thirds of its population under the age of 25, Nigeria offers abundant natural resources and a low-cost labor pool, and enjoys mostly duty-free trade with other member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Nigeria’s full market potential remains unrealized because of significant impediments such as pervasive corruption, inadequate power and transportation infrastructure, high energy costs, an inconsistent regulatory and legal environment, insecurity, a slow and ineffective bureaucracy and judicial system, and inadequate intellectual property rights protections and enforcement. However, the Government of Nigeria (GoN) has undertaken reforms to help improve the business environment, including making starting a business faster by allowing electronic stamping of registration documents, and making it easier to obtain construction permits, register property, get credit, and pay taxes. These reforms helped boost Nigeria’s ranking on the World Bank’s annual Doing Business rankings from 169th to 145th place out of 190 economies.

Nigeria’s underdeveloped power sector remains a particular bottleneck to broad-based economic development. Power on the national grid currently averages between 4,000 – 5,000 megawatts, forcing most businesses to generate much of their own electricity. The World Bank currently ranks Nigeria 172nd out of 190 countries for ease of obtaining electricity for business. Reform of Nigeria’s power sector is ongoing, but investor confidence has been shaken by tariff and regulatory uncertainty. The privatization of distribution and generation companies in 2013 was based on projected levels of transmission and progress toward a fully cost reflective tariff to sustain operations and investment. However, tariff increases were reversed in 2015, and revenues were severely impacted due to decreased transmission levels as well as high commercial, collections, and technical losses, resulting in a severe liquidity crisis throughout the power sector value chain. The Nigerian Government, in partnership with the World Bank, published a Power Sector Recovery Plan (approved by the Federal Executive Council) in March 2017. The plan is ambitious and will require political will, external investment to address the accumulated deficit, and discipline in implementing plans to mitigate future shortfalls. It is, nevertheless, a step in the right direction, and recognizes explicitly that the Nigerian economy is losing on average approximately USD 29 billion annually due to lack of adequate power.

Nigeria’s trade regime remains protectionist in key areas. High tariffs, restricted forex availability for 41 categories of imports, and prohibitions on many other import items have the aim of spurring domestic agricultural and manufacturing sector growth. Nigeria’s imports rose in 2017, largely as a result of the country’s gradual recovery from the 2014 economic recession. U.S. goods exports to Nigeria in 2017 were USD 2.16 billion, up nearly 60 percent from the previous year, while U.S. imports from Nigeria were USD 7.05 billion, an increase of 68.7 percent. U.S. exports to Nigeria are primarily refined petroleum products, used vehicles, cereals, and machinery. Crude oil and petroleum products continued to account for over 95 percent of Nigerian exports to the United States in 2016. The stock of U.S. foreign direct investment (FDI) in Nigeria was USD 3.8 billion in 2016 (latest data available), a substantial decrease from USD 5.5 billion in 2015. U.S. FDI in Nigeria continues to be led by the oil and gas sector. There is also investment from the United States and other countries in Nigeria’s power, telecommunications, real estate (commercial and residential), and agricultural sectors.

Given the corruption risk associated with the Nigerian business environment, potential investors often develop anti-bribery compliance programs. The United States and other parties to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention aggressively enforce anti-bribery laws, including the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). A high-profile FCPA case in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector resulted in 2010 U.S. Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) and U.S. Department of Justice rulings that included record fines for a U.S. multinational and its subsidiaries that had paid bribes to Nigerian officials. Since then, the SEC has charged an additional four international companies with bribing Nigerian government officials to obtain contracts, permits, and resolve customs disputes. See SEC enforcement actions at

Security remains a concern to investors in Nigeria due to high rates of violent crime, kidnappings for ransom, and terrorism. The ongoing Boko Haram and Islamic State in West Africa (ISIS-WA) insurgencies have included attacks against civilian and military targets in the northeast of the country, causing general insecurity and a major humanitarian crisis there, but the impact on the broader economy has been limited. Multiple bombings (the majority linked to the insurgent groups) of high-profile targets with multiple deaths have occurred outside of Nigeria’s northeast region as well since 2010, but the pace of such attacks has dipped significantly in recent years. In the Niger Delta region, militant attacks on oil and gas infrastructure in 2016 restricted oil production and export in 2016, but a restored amnesty program and more federal government engagement in the Delta region have brought a reprieve in violence and allowed limited restoration of shut-in oil and gas production. The longer-term impact of the government’s Delta peace efforts, however, remains unclear and criminal activity in the Delta – in particular, rampant oil theft – remains a serious concern. Maritime criminality in Nigerian waters, including incidents of piracy and crew kidnap for ransom, has increased in recent years and law enforcement efforts have been limited or ineffectual. Onshore, international inspectors have voiced concerns over the adequacy of security measures at some Nigerian port facilities. Businesses report that bribery of customs and port officials remains common to avoid delays, and smuggled goods routinely enter Nigeria’s seaports and cross its land borders.

Freedom of expression and of the press remains broadly observed, with the media often engaging in open, lively discussions of challenges facing Nigeria. However, security services detain and harass journalists in some cases, including for reporting on sensitive topics such as corruption and security. Some journalists practice self-censorship on sensitive issues.

Table 1

Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2017 148 of 180
World Bank’s Doing Business Report “Ease of Doing Business” 2017 145 of 190
Global Innovation Index 2017 119 of 128
U.S. FDI in partner country (M USD, stock positions) 2016 USD

World Bank GNI per capita 2016 USD 2,450

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment

In 1995, the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission Act dismantled years of controls and limits on foreign direct investment (FDI), opening nearly all sectors to foreign investment, allowing for 100 percent foreign ownership in all sectors (with the exception of the petroleum sector, where FDI is limited to joint ventures or production sharing contracts), and creating the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) with a mandate to encourage and assist investment in Nigeria. The NIPC features a One-Stop Investment Center that nominally includes participation of 27 governmental and parastatal agencies (not all of which are physically present at the OSIC, however) in order to consolidate and streamline administrative procedures for new businesses and investments. Foreign investors receive largely the same treatment as domestic investors in Nigeria, including tax incentives. However, without strong political and policy support, and because of the unresolved challenges to investment and business in Nigeria, the ability of the NIPC to attract new investment has been limited.

The Government of Nigeria (GoN) has continued to promote import substitution policies such as trade restrictions and local content requirements in a bid to attract investment that would develop domestic capacity to produce products and services that would otherwise be imported. The import bans and high tariffs used to advance Nigeria’s import substitution goals have been undermined by smuggling of targeted products (most notably rice and poultry) through the country’s porous borders, and by corruption in the import quota systems developed by the GoN to incentivize domestic investment. Despite the GoN’s stated goal to attract investment, investors generally find Nigeria a difficult place to do business.

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

There are currently no limits on foreign control of investments in Nigeria. The NIPC Act of 1995 liberalized the ownership structure of business in Nigeria, so that foreign investors can now own and control 100 percent of the shares in any company (as opposed to the earlier arrangement of 40 to 60 percent-40 percent in favor of Nigerians).

The NIPC Act of 1995 allows 100 percent foreign ownership of firms, except in the oil and gas sector where investment is limited to joint ventures or production-sharing agreements. Laws restrict industries to domestic investors if they are considered crucial to national security, such as firearms, ammunition, and military and paramilitary apparel. Foreign investors must register with the NIPC after incorporation under the Companies and Allied Matters Decree of 1990. The Act prohibits the nationalization or expropriation of foreign enterprises except in cases of national interest. Lack of transparency and corruption in government are endemic.

Nigerian laws apply equally to domestic and foreign investors. These laws include the Nigerian Oil and Gas Content Development Act 2010, Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act of 2007, Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) Act of 2007, Central Bank of Nigeria Act of 2007, Electric Power Sector Reform Act of 2005, Money Laundering Act of 2003, Investment and Securities Act of 2007, Foreign Exchange Act of 1995, Banking and Other Financial Institutions Act of 1991, and National Office of Technology Acquisition and Promotion Act of 1979.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

The OECD completed an investment policy review of Nigeria in May 2015. ( ). The WTO published a trade policy review of Nigeria in 2011 which also includes a brief overview and assessment of Nigeria’s investment climate. That review is available at .

The United Nations Council on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) published an investment policy review of Nigeria and a Blue Book on Best Practice in Investment Promotion and Facilitation in 2009 (available at ). The recommendations from its reports continue to be valid: Nigeria needs to diversify FDI away from the oil and gas sector by improving the regulatory framework, investing in physical and human capital, taking advantage of regional integration and reviewing external tariffs, fostering linkages and local industrial capacity, and strengthening institutions dealing with investment and related issues.

Business Facilitation

Nigeria does not have an on-line single window business registration website, as noted by Global Enterprise Registration ( ). The Nigerian Corporate Affairs Commission maintains an information portal. On average, it takes 8 procedures and 18 days to establish a foreign-owned limited liability company (LLC) in Nigeria (Lagos), slightly faster than the regional average for Sub-Saharan Africa. Time required is likely to vary in different parts of the country. Only a local counsel accredited by the Corporate Affairs Commission can incorporate companies in Nigeria. According to the Nigerian Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, foreign capital invested in the LLC must be imported through an authorized dealer, which will issue a Certificate of Capital Importation. This certificate entitles the foreign investor to open a bank account in foreign currency. Finally, a company engaging in international trade must get an import-export license from the Nigerian customs service.

The Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission has established a One Stop Investment Center, co-locating relevant government agencies to one location in order to provide more efficient and transparent services to investors. Investors may pick up documents and approvals that are statutorily needed to set up an investment project in Nigeria. The Center assists with visas for investors, company incorporation, business permits and registration, tax registration, immigration, and customs issues. The Nigerian government has not established uniform definitions for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) with different agencies using different definitions.

Outward Investment

The Nigerian Export Promotion Council administered an Export Expansion Grant (EEG) scheme to improve non-oil export performance, but the government ended the program in 2014 due to concerns about corruption on the part of companies who collected the grants but did not actually export. The federal government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan 2017-2020, released in February 2017 proposed reviving the EEG in the form of tax credits for companies, and the program may be relaunched in 2018. The Nigerian Export-Import (NEXIM) Bank provides commercial bank guarantees and direct lending to facilitate export sector growth, although these services are underused. NEXIM’s Foreign Input Facility provides normal commercial terms of three to five years (or longer) for the importation of machinery and raw materials used for generating exports.

Agencies created to promote industrial exports remain burdened by uneven management, vaguely-defined policy guidelines, and corruption. Nigeria’s inadequate power supply and lack of infrastructure and the associated high production costs leave Nigerian exporters at a significant disadvantage. Many Nigerian businesses fail to export because they find meeting international packaging and safety standards is too difficult or expensive. Similarly, firms often are unable to meet consumer demand for a consistent supply of high quality goods in quantities sufficient to support exports as well as the domestic market. The vast majority of Nigeria’s manufacturers remain unable to compete in the international market, and have little intention of doing so, given the size of Nigeria’s domestic market.

2. Bilateral Investment Agreements and Taxation Treaties

The GoN signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) with the United States in 2000. Nigeria has bilateral investment agreements with Algeria, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, Jamaica, Republic of Korea, Kuwait Morocco, The Netherlands, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, Uganda, and The United Kingdom. Fifteen of these treaties (those with China, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, Republic of Korea, The Netherlands, Romania, Serbia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan and The United Kingdom) have been ratified by both parties. GoN officials blame treaty partners for the lack of ratification, but the ratification process within the GoN has not proven proactive or well-organized. U.S. and Nigerian officials held their latest round of TIFA talks in April 2016.

Nigeria is a party to double taxation agreements with thirteen countries, the latest of which (with the Philippines) became effective January 1, 2014. Nigeria does not have such an agreement with the United States.

4. Industrial Policies

Investment Incentives

The GoN maintains different and overlapping incentive programs. The Industrial Development/Income Tax Relief Act Number 22 of 1971, amended in 1988, provides incentives to pioneer industries deemed beneficial to Nigeria’s economic development and to labor-intensive industries, such as apparel. There are currently 71 industries defined as pioneer industries for the purposes of this incentive. Companies that receive pioneer status may benefit from a non-renewable, 100 percent tax holiday of five years (seven years, if the company is located in an economically-disadvantaged area). Industries that use 60 to 80 percent of local raw materials in production may benefit from a 30 percent tax concession for five years, and investments employing labor-intensive modes of production may enjoy a 15 percent tax concession for five years. Additional tax incentives are available for investments in domestic research and development, for companies that invest in local government areas (LGAs) deemed disadvantaged, for local value added processing, for investments in solid minerals and oil and gas, and for a number of other investment scenarios. For a full list of incentives, refer to the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission website at .

The Nigerian Export Promotion Commission administered an Export Expansion Grant (EEG) scheme to improve non-oil export performance, but the government shut down the program in 2014 due to concerns about corruption on the part of companies who collected the grants but did not actually export. The Nigerian Export-Import (NEXIM) Bank provides commercial bank guarantees and direct lending to facilitate export sector growth, although these services are underused. NEXIM’s Foreign Input Facility provides normal commercial terms of three to five years (or longer) for the importation of machinery and raw materials used for generating exports. Agencies created to promote industrial exports remain burdened by uneven management, vaguely-defined policy guidelines, and corruption.

The NIPC states that up to 120 percent of expenses on (R&D) are tax deductible, provided that such R&D activities are carried out in Nigeria and are connected with the business from which income or profits are derived. Also, for the purpose of R&D on local raw materials, 140 percent of expenses are allowed. For cases in which the research is long-term, it will be regarded as a capital expenditure and will be written off against profit.

Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation

The Nigerian Export Processing Zone Authority (NEPZA) allows duty-free import of all equipment and raw materials into its export processing zones. Up to 25 percent of production in an export processing zone may be sold domestically upon payment of applicable duties. Investors in the zones are exempt from foreign exchange regulations and taxes and may freely repatriate capital. The GoN also encourages private sector participation and partnership with state and local governments under the free trade zones (FTZ) program, resulting in the establishment of the Lekki FTZ (owned by Lagos state), and the Olokola FTZ (which straddles Ogun and Ondo states and is owned by those two states, the federal government, and private oil companies). Workers in FTZs may unionize, but may not strike for an initial ten-year period.

Nigeria ratified the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) in 2016 and the Agreement entered into force in February 2017. Nigeria already implements items in Category A under the TFA and has identified, but not yet implemented, its Category B and C commitments. In August 2016, Nigeria requested additional technical assistance to implement and enforce its Category C commitments. (See ).

Performance and Data Localization Requirements

Foreign investors must register with the NIPC, incorporate as a limited liability company (private or public) with the Corporate Affairs Commission, procure appropriate business permits, and register with the Securities and Exchange Commission (when applicable) to conduct business in Nigeria. Manufacturing companies sometimes must meet local content requirements. Expatriate personnel do not require work permits, but they remain subject to needs quotas requiring them to obtain residence permits that allow salary remittances abroad. Authorities permit larger quotas for professions deemed in short supply, such as deep-water oil-field divers. U.S. companies often report problems in obtaining quota permits. The Nigerian Oil and Gas Content Development Act, 2010 (NOGCDA) restricts the number of expatriate managers to five percent of the total number of personnel for companies in the oil and gas sector.

Technology Transfer Requirements

The National Office of Industrial Property Act of 1979 established the National Office of Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP). NOTAP’s main objective is to regulate the international acquisition of technology while creating an environment conducive to local technology. To this end, NOTAP recommends local technical partners to Nigerian users in a bid to reduce the level of imported technology, which currently accounts for over 90 percent of technology in use in Nigeria. One of NOTAP’s major activities is the review of Technology Transfer Agreements (TTAs), a requirement for importing technology into Nigeria and for companies operating in Nigeria to access foreign currency. NOTAP reviews three major aspects prior to approval of TTAs and subsequent issuance of a certificate:

  • Legal – ensuring that the clauses in the agreement are in accordance with Nigerian laws and legal frameworks within which NOTAP operates;
  • Economic – ensuring prices are fair for the technology offered; and
  • Technical – ensuring transfer of technical knowledge.

One of the chief complaints among American firms concerning the TTA is the length of the approval process which can take up to three months. NOTAP took steps to automate the TTA approval process in order reduce the approval process to one month or less.

In cooperation with the Ministry of Finance, NOTAP administers 120 percent tax deductions for research and development carried out in Nigeria and 140 percent tax deductions for research and development using local raw materials. The NOGCDA has technology-transfer requirements that may violate a company’s intellectual property rights.

Data Storage

The Guidelines for Nigerian Content Development in the ICT sector issued by NITDA on December 3, 2013, require ICT companies to host all consumer and subscriber data locally and for government ministries, departments and agencies to source and procure software from only local and indigenous software development companies. Enforcement of the guidelines is largely absent as the GoN lacks capacity and resources to monitor digital data flows. Federal government data are hosted locally in data centers that meet international standards.


The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) exercise exclusive jurisdiction over customs services and port operations. Nigerian law allows importers to clear goods on their own, but most importers employ clearing and forwarding agents to minimize tariffs and lower their landed costs. Others ship their goods to ports in neighboring countries, primarily Benin, after which they transport overland and smuggle into the country. The GoN implements a destination inspection scheme whereby all inspections occur upon arrival into Nigeria, rather than at the ports of origin. In December 2013, the NCS regained the authority to conduct destination inspections, which had previously been contracted to private companies. NCS also introduced an online system for filing customs documentation via a Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) process.

Shippers report that efforts to modernize and professionalize the NCS and the NPA have reduced port congestion and clearance times. These efforts include an ongoing program to achieve 48-hour cargo clearance, particularly at Lagos’ Apapa Port, which handles over 40 percent of Nigeria’s legal trade. Nevertheless, bribery of customs agents and port officials remains common, and often necessary to avoid extended delays clearing imported goods through the NPA and NCS. Smuggled goods routinely enter Nigeria’s seaports and cross its land borders.

Visa Requirements

Investors sometimes encounter difficulties acquiring entry visas and residency permits. Foreigners must obtain entry visas from Nigerian embassies or consulates abroad, seek expatriate position authorization from the NIPC, and request residency permits from the Nigerian Immigration Service. Investors report that this cumbersome process can take from two to 24 months and cost from USD 1,000 to USD 3,000 in facilitation fees. The GoN announced a new visa rule in August 2011 to encourage foreign investment, under which legitimate investors can obtain multiple entry-visas at points of entry into Nigeria. Some U.S. businesses have reported being solicited for bribes in the visa on entry program. Obtaining a visa prior to traveling to Nigeria is strongly encouraged

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

The GoN recognizes secured interests in property, such as mortgages. The recording of security instruments and their enforcement remain subject to the same inefficiencies as those in the judicial system. In the World Bank Doing Business 2018 Report, Nigeria ranked 179 out of the 190 countries surveyed for registering property, an improvement of four points over its 2017 ranking. In Lagos, property registration required an average of 12 procedures over 76 days at a cost of 10.1 percent of the property value while in Kano registering property averages 9 procedures over 45 days at a cost of 11.8 percent of the property value.

Fee simple property rights remain rare. Owners transfer most property through long-term leases, with certificates of occupancy acting as title deeds. Property transfers are complex and must usually go through state governors’ offices, as state governments have jurisdiction over land ownership. Authorities have often compelled owners to demolish buildings, including government buildings, commercial buildings, residences, and churches, even in the face of court injunctions. Therefore, acquiring and maintaining rights to real property can be problematic.

Clarity of title and registration of land ownership remain significant challenges throughout rural Nigeria, where many smallholder farmers have only ancestral or traditional use claims to their land. Nigeria’s land reforms have attempted to address this barrier to development but with limited success. A major American investment in an industrial-scale farm in rural Nigeria was cancelled in 2015 in part because the land ownership and the relocation of smallholder farmers was not carried out as promised by the state government, which is vested with such power under Nigerian law.

Intellectual Property Rights

Nigeria’s legal and institutional infrastructure for protecting intellectual property rights remains in need of further development and more funding, even though there are laws on the books for enforcing most IPR violations. The areas where the legislation is deficient include online piracy, geographical indications, and plant and animal breeders’ rights. No new IPR legislation has been enacted.

Copyright protection in Nigeria is governed by the Copyright Act of 1988, as amended in 1992 and 1999, which provides an adequate basis for enforcing copyright and combating piracy. That Act is administered by the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), a division of the Ministry of Justice. The International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC) has long noted that the Copyright Act should be amended to provide stiffer penalties for violators. In October 2015, the NCC released a draft Revised Copyright bill, with a public comment period open until early January 2016. Nigeria is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and in 2017 passed legislation to ratify two WIPO treaties that it signed in 1997: the Copyright Treaty and the Performances and Phonograms Treaty. These treaties address important digital communication and broadcast issues that have become increasingly relevant in the 18 years since Nigeria signed them. The 2016 draft was revised to bring it into compliance with these two treaties and was sent to the National Assembly in December 2017.

Local content guidelines issued by the Ministry of Communication Technology (MCT) in 2013 (Guidelines for Nigerian Content Development in Information and Communications Technology) have raised IPR concerns about, among other things, the future ability of the GoN to protect data and trade secrets, due to the localization processes requiring the disclosure of source code and other sensitive design elements as a condition of doing business. The IT industry in Nigeria has pushed back strongly against several of the measures in those guidelines, which remain in effect but have not been fully enforced. While the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) does not currently require in-country product manufacturing due to the difficult business environment in Nigeria, it has noted that it would continue to press for local ICT capacity building programs.

Violations of Nigerian IPR laws continue to be widespread, due in large part to a culture of inadequate enforcement. That culture stems from several factors, including insufficient resources among enforcement agencies, lack of GoN political will and focus on IPR, porous borders, entrenched trafficking systems that make enforcement difficult (and sometimes dangerous), and corruption. The NCC, which has primary responsibility for copyright enforcement, is widely viewed as understaffed and underfunded relative to the magnitude of the IPR challenge in Nigeria. Nevertheless, the NCC continues to carry out enforcement actions on a regular basis. According to its report for 2016, the NCC conducted 51 anti-piracy operations and seized 140,663 copyrighted works, including DVDs, books, MP3s, and software. Anti-piracy operations in 2016 led to 103 arrests. Although the quantity of seizures and market value of seizures declined from 2015, the number of anti-piracy operations increased nearly 25 percent.

The NCS has general authority to seize and destroy contraband. Under current law, copyrighted works require a notice issued by the rights owner to Customs to treat such works as infringing, but implementing procedures have not been developed and this procedure is handled on a case by case basis between the NCS and the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC). Once seizures are made, the NCS invites the NCC to inspect and subsequently take delivery of the consignment of fake goods for purposes of further investigation because the NCC has the statutory responsibility to investigate and prosecute copyright violations. The cost of moving and storing infringing goods is to be borne by the NCC. If, after investigations, any persons are identified with the infringing materials, a decision may be taken to prosecute. Where no persons are identified or could be traced, the Commission may obtain an order of court to enable it destroy such works. The Commission works in cooperation with rights owners associations and stakeholders in the copyright industries on such matters.

Many USG agencies, including the Department of Justice, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the U.S. Copyright Office, the Department of Homeland Security, the Internal Revenue Service, and others have all led or participated in IPR capacity building efforts in recent years that have included participants from Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Nigerian Customs Service, the Nigerian Police, the Nigerian Copyright Commission, the Nigerian Trademarks, Patents, and Designs Registry, the Standards Organization of Nigeria, and the National Agency For Food and Drug Administration and Control.

Nigeria was not listed in the 2018 Special 301 report but was included in the 2016 Notorious Markets Report, which specifically noted two physical markets in Lagos.

For additional information about treaty obligations and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at .

6. Financial Sector

Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment

The NIPC Act of 1995 liberalized Nigeria’s foreign investment regime, which has facilitated access to credit from domestic financial institutions. Foreign investors who have incorporated their companies in Nigeria have equal access to all financial instruments. Some investors consider the capital market, specifically the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), a financing option, given commercial banks’ high interest rates and the short maturities of local debt instruments.

2017 witnessed a remarkable rebound in stock market value, up 42 percent from the previous year, as Nigeria has continued to climb out its recession: the equity market increased by 27 percent. As of September 2017, the NSE claimed over 259 listed companies and a total market capitalization of USD 64.2 billion, a 18 percent increase from 2016. The GoN has considered requiring companies in certain sectors or over a certain size to list on the NSE, as a means to encourage greater corporate participation and sectoral balance in the NSE, but those proposals have not been enacted to date.

The Government employs debt instruments, with the GoN issuing bonds of various maturities ranging from two to 20 years since the return to civilian rule in 1999. The GoN has issued bonds to restructure the GoN domestic debt portfolio from short-term to medium- and long-term instruments. Some state governments have issued bonds to finance development projects, while some domestic banks have used the bond market to raise additional capital. The Nigerian Securities and Exchange Commission (NSEC) has issued stringent guidelines for states wishing to raise funds on capital markets, such as requiring credit assessments conducted by recognized credit rating agencies.

Money and Banking System

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) currently licenses 22 deposit–taking commercial banks in Nigeria. Following a 2009 banking crisis, CBN officials intervened in eight of 24 commercial banks (roughly one third of the system by assets) due to insolvency or serious undercapitalization and established the government-owned Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) to address bank balance sheet disequilibria via discounted purchases of non-performing loans. The Nigerian banking sector emerged stronger from the crisis thanks to AMCON and a number of other reforms undertaken by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), including the adoption of uniform year-end IFRS financial reporting to increase transparency, a stronger emphasis on risk management and corporate governance, and the nationalization of three distressed banks. In 2013 the CBN introduced a stricter supervision framework for the country’s top eight banks, identified as “Systemically Important Banks” (SIBs) given they account for more than 70 percent of the industry’s total assets, loans and deposits, and their failure or collapse could disrupt the entire financial system and the country’s real economy. These eight banks are: First Bank of Nigeria, United Bank for Africa, Zenith Bank, Access Bank, Ecobank Nigeria, Guaranty Trust Bank, Skye Bank, and Diamond Bank. Under the new supervision framework, the operations of SIBs are closely monitored with regulatory authorities conducting stress tests on the SIBs’ capital and liquidity adequacy. Moreover, SIBs are required to maintain a higher minimum capital adequacy ratio of 15 percent. Although Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NIDC) officials have estimated non-performing loans stood at 10 percent of outstanding loans at the end of 2016, the actual figure is likely higher. NDIC also reported 13.5 percent non-performing loans in September 2017. GoN and private sector analysts assess that the volume of non-performing loans may be higher than these figures, owing in part to banks not reporting non-performing insider loans made to banks’ owners and directors.

The CBN supports non-interest banking. Both Jaiz Bank International Plc and Stanbic IBTC Plc have established Islamic banking operations in Nigeria. Jaiz Bank International commenced operations in 2012. There are five licensed merchant banks.

The CBN has issued regulations for foreign banks for mergers with or acquisitions of existing local banks in the country. Foreign institutions’ aggregate investment must not be more than 10 per cent of the latter’s total capital.

Foreign Exchange and Remittances

Foreign Exchange Policies

Foreign currency for most transactions is procured through local banks in the inter-bank market. Low value foreign exchange may also be procured at a premium from foreign exchange bureaus, called Bureaus De Change (BDCs). Nigerian, American, and other foreign businesses frequently expressed strong concern about the CBN’s foreign exchange restrictions, which they report prevent them from importing needed equipment and goods and from repatriating naira earnings. Foreign exchange demand remains high because of the dependence on foreign inputs for manufacturing and refined petroleum products.

In 2015, the CBN published a list of 41 product categories which could no longer be imported using official foreign exchange channels. Affected businesses (American and Nigerian) have complained publicly and privately that the policy in effect bans the import of some 700 individual items and severely hampers their ability to source inputs and raw materials. While the CBN has often referred to the 41-item list as temporary, the restriction remains in place with no indication it will be removed. In 2017, the CBN began providing more foreign exchange to the interbank market via wholesale and retail forward contract auctions, in order to meet some of the demand that had been forced to the parallel market. These actions satisfied some of the pent-up demand for dollars in the economy and resulted in a strengthening of the naira at the parallel market from a low of 520/dollar in January 2017 to around 390/dollar in April 2017. The CBN also established an “investors and exporters” window in 2017 and allowed trades through that window to occur at around 360/dollar. This, combined with increased oil revenue, has boosted CBN reserves and helped stabilize the foreign exchange market. Most trade happens at the investors and exporters window, which provides the value of the naira quoted by financial markets globally, while the CBN continues to peg the official interbank rate at 305/dollar for transactions that it wishes to incentivize, such as fuel imports. The CBN also maintains separate exchange windows for education expenses abroad and the aviation sector.

Remittance Policies

The NIPC guarantees investors unrestricted transfer of dividends abroad (net a 10 percent withholding tax). Companies must provide evidence of income earned and taxes paid before repatriating dividends from Nigeria. Money transfers usually take no more than 48 hours. In 2015, the CBN implemented restrictions on foreign exchange remittances. All such transfers must occur through banks. Such remittances may take several weeks depending of the size of the transfer and the availability of foreign exchange at the remitting bank. Transfers of currency are protected by Article VII of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Articles of Agreement ( ).

Nigeria is not a member of the Financial Action Task Force. It is a member of Intergovernmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA).

Sovereign Wealth Funds

The Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) is the manager of Nigeria’s sovereign wealth fund. It was created by the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority Act in 2011 and began operation the following year with seed capital of USD 1 billion. Its most recent annual report (calendar year 2016) reported total assets of nearly USD 1.33 billion, a 97 percent increase from 2014. It was created to receive, manage and grow a diversified portfolio that will eventually replace government revenue currently drawn from non-renewable resources, primarily hydrocarbons.

The NSIA is a public agency that subscribes to the Santiago Principles which are a set of 24 guidelines that assign “best practices” for the operations of Sovereign Wealth Funds globally. The NSIA invests through three funds: the Future Generations Fund for diversified portfolio of long term growth, the Nigeria Infrastructure Fund for domestic infrastructure development, and the Stabilization Fund to act as a buffer against short-term economic instability. NSIA does not take an active role in management of companies. The Embassy has not received any report or indication that the activities of the NSIA limit private competition.

7. State-Owned Enterprises

The Government of Nigeria does not have an established practice that is consistent with the OECD guidelines on Corporate Governance for SOEs, but SOEs do have enabling legislation that governs their ownership. To legalize the existence of SOEs, provisions have been made in the Nigerian constitution under socio-economic development in section 16 (1) of the 1979 and 1999 constitutions respectively. The government has privatized many former State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) to encourage more efficient operations, most recently the state-owned telecommunications company, NITEL, and its mobile subsidiary, MTEL.

Nigeria does not operate a centralized ownership system for its SOEs. The enabling legislation for each SOE stipulates its ownership and governance structure. The Boards of Directors are usually appointed by the President on the recommendation of the relevant Minister. The Boards operate in line with their enabling legislation and are appointed in line with the enabling legislation which usually stipulates the criteria for appointing Board members. Directors are appointed by the Board within the relevant sector. In a few cases, however, some Board appointments have been viewed as a reward to political affiliates. In the case of Nigeria’s most prominent SOE, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Board appointments are made by the presidency but the day-to-day running of business is overseen by the Group Managing Director (GMD). The GMD reports to the Minister of Petroleum, although in the current administration the President has retained that ministerial role for himself. Nigeria’s National Assembly passed a Petroleum Industry Governance Bill in March 2018 and President Buhari was expected to sign it. The bill would clarify regulatory, policy, and operational roles in the petroleum sector and pave the way for partial privatization of NNPC.

Responsible for exploration, refining, petrochemicals, products transportation and marketing, the NNPC is Nigeria’s biggest and arguably most important state-owned enterprise. It owns and operates Nigeria’s four refineries (one each in Warri and Kaduna and two in Port Harcourt), all of which operate far below their original installed capacity. In a bid to attract investment in refineries, the GON says it plans to deregulate the downstream sector fully. In 2016, the Buhari administration took steps to reorganize NNPC into seven independent operational units: Upstream, Downstream, Gas and Power, Refineries, Ventures, Corporate Planning and Services, and Finance and Accounts.

The NNPC has typically operated as an autonomous entity. Until 2016, there was little or no information available on its finances, internal controls, or quasi-fiscal obligations. The Minister of Petroleum Resources grants licenses for oil exploration, while the Department of Petroleum Resources, under the Minister, oversees the licensing process and regulates the sector. While there is open bidding, the Minister of Petroleum Resources exercises wide discretion in awarding licenses. The legislative branch has limited oversight of the process. Nigeria’s tax agency receives taxes on petroleum profits and other hydrocarbon-related levies, while the Department of Petroleum Resources collects rents, royalties, license fees, bonuses, and other payments. In an effort to provide greater transparency in the collection of revenues that accrue to the government, the Buhari administration requires these revenues, including some from the NNPC, to be deposited in the Treasury Single Account.

Another key SOE is the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), responsible for the operation of Nigeria’s national electrical grid. Private power generation and distribution companies have accused the TCN grid of significant inefficiency and inadequate technology. The TCN incorporated in November 2005 and emerged from the defunct National Electric Power Authority (NEPA). It was the only major component of Nigeria’s electric power sector not to have been privatized in 2013.

Privatization Program

The Privatization and Commercialization Act of 1999 established the National Council on Privatization, the policy-making body overseeing the privatization of state-owned enterprises (SOEs), and the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), the implementing agency for designated privatizations. The BPE has focused on the privatization of key sectors, including telecommunications and power, and calls for core investors to acquire controlling shares in formerly state-owned enterprises.

Since 1999, the BPE has privatized and concessioned more than 140 enterprises, including an aluminum complex, steel complex, cement manufacturing firms, hotels, petrochemical plant, aviation cargo handling companies, vehicle assembly plants, and electricity generation and distribution companies. The transmission company remains state-owned. Foreign investors can and do participate in the BPE’s privatization process. The BPE also retains partial ownership in some of the privatized companies. (It holds a 40 percent stake in the power distribution companies, for instance).

The National Assembly has questioned the propriety of some of these privatizations, with one case related to an aluminum complex privatization recently the subject of a Supreme Court ruling on ownership. In addition, the inability of the 2013 power sector privatization to restore financial viability to the sector has raised criticism of the privatized power generation and distribution companies. Nevertheless, the GoN’s long-delayed sale in December 2014 of the state-owned Nigerian Telecommunications and its mobile arm, Mobile Telecommunications, shows a continued commitment to the privatization model. The GoN remains interested in developing public-private partnerships to attract foreign capital to support basic infrastructure development, such as the Design-Build-Operate-Transfer of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, a major highway in the southwestern part of the country.

8. Responsible Business Conduct

There is no specific Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) law in Nigeria. Several legislative acts incorporate within their provisions certain expectations that directly or indirectly regulate the observance or practice of Corporate Social Responsibility. In order to reinforce responsible behavior, various laws have been put in place for the protection of the environment. These laws stipulate criminal sanctions for non-compliance. There are also regulating agencies which exist to protect the rights of consumers when breached by these entities.

Large local and foreign enterprises generally follow RBC principles as a way to identify with the communities in which they operate and display support for GoN initiatives. Numerous large local and foreign firms have published policies and guidelines for responsible business conduct. Nigeria participates in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and is an EITI compliant country. Specifically, in January 2017, the EITI Board determined that Nigeria had made meaningful progress toward the EITI standard. The next EITI validation study of Nigeria will occur in 2018.

Major infrastructure projects require an Environmental Impact Assessment certification pursuant to the EIA Act. This law ensures that the significant environmental issues are identified and studied before public and private sector development projects or activities are commenced and that any potential negative effects can be prevented, reduced or mitigated.

The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), an arm of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, also ensures comprehensive standards and guidelines to direct the execution of projects with proper consideration for the environment. The DPR Environmental Guidelines and Standards (EGAS) of 1991 for the petroleum industry is a comprehensive working document with serious consideration for the preservation and protection of the Niger Delta. While the GoN has no specific action plan regarding OECD RBC guidelines, most government procurements are done transparently and in line with the Public Procurement Act which stipulates advertisement and a transparent bidding process.

The GoN provides oversight of consumer and environmental protection issues. The Consumer Protection Council (CPC), the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, the Standards Organization of Nigeria and other entities have the authority to impose fines, and ensure the destruction of harmful substances which otherwise may have sold to the general public. Environmental pollution by multinational oil companies has resulted in fines being imposed locally while some cases have been pursued in foreign jurisdictions resulting in judgment being granted in favor of the oil producing communities.

The main regulators and enforcers of corporate governance are the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Corporate Affairs Commission (which register all incorporated Companies). Nigeria has adopted multiple reforms on corporate governance. Examples include Code of Corporate governance best practice in 2003 issued by Securities Exchange Commission (SEC). Similarly, in 2006, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) issued a Code of Corporate Governance for banks’ post consolidation. In order to improve corporate governance, the SEC in September 2008 inaugurated a National Committee for reviewing the Code of Corporate Governance for public companies in Nigeria. It is stipulated that the Board should report annually on the nature and extent of its social, ethical, safety, health and environmental policies and practices. The Securities Exchange Commission issued another Code of Corporate Governance in 2011.

The Companies Allied Matter Act 1990 (CAMA) and the Investment Securities Act provide basic guidelines on company listing. More detailed regulations are covered in the Nigeria Stock Exchange Listing rules. Publicly listed companies are expected to disclose such information in their Annual Financial Reports.

The Banks and other Financial Institution Act 1991 empowers the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to register and regulate bank and other financial institutions. The Insurance Act of 2003 ensures the regulation of insurance companies through the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM).

The Institute of Chartered Accountant of Nigeria (ICAN), the Association of Accountant of Nigeria (ANAN), and Institute of Directors (IoD) also play various roles in promoting effective corporate governance systems in Nigeria. They promote their goals through conferences, seminars and symposiums on compliance with the code of corporate governance practices for listed firms.

9. Corruption

Government Procurement

Foreign companies, whether incorporated in Nigeria or not, may bid on government projects and generally receive national treatment in government procurement, but may also be subject to a local content vehicle (e.g., partnership with a local partner firm or the inclusion of one in a consortium) or other prerequisites which are likely to vary from tender to tender. Corruption and lack of transparency in tender processes has been a far greater concern to U.S. companies than any discriminatory policies based on foreign status. Government tenders are published in local newspapers, a “tenders” journal sold at local newspaper outlets, and on occasion in foreign journals and magazines. The Nigerian government has made modest progress on its pledge to conduct open and competitive bidding processes for government procurement. Reforms have also improved transparency in procurement by the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NPPC). Although U.S. companies have won contracts in a number of sectors, difficulties in receiving payment are not uncommon and can inhibit firms from bidding. Supplier or foreign government subsidized financing arrangements appear in some cases to be a crucial factor in the award of government procurements. Nigeria is not a signatory to the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement.

The Public Procurement Law of 2007 established the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) as the successor agency to the Budget Monitoring and Price Intelligence Unit (BMPIU). The BPP acts as a clearinghouse for government contracts and procurement and monitors the implementation of projects to ensure compliance with contract terms and budgetary restrictions. Procurements above 100 million naira (about USD 641,000) reportedly undergo full “due process” but government agencies routinely flaunt public procurement requirements. Some of the 36 states of the federation have also passed public procurement legislation.

In July 2016, Nigeria announced its participation in the Open Government Partnership (OGP), a potentially significant step forward on public financial management and fiscal transparency. In December 2016, the Ministry of Justice presented Nigeria’s National Action Plan (NAP) for the OGP. Implementation of its 14 commitments has been slow, but some progress has been made, particularly on the issues such as Tax Transparency, Ease of Doing Business, and Asset Recovery. The NAP, which runs through 2019, covers five major themes: ensuring citizens’ participation in the budget cycle, implementation of open contracting and the adoption of open contracting data standards, increasing transparency in the extractive sectors, adopting common reporting standards like the Addis Tax initiative, and improving the ease of doing business. Full implementation of the NAP would be a significant step forward for Nigeria’s fiscal transparency.

Businesses report that bribery of customs and port officials remains common, and often necessary to avoid extended delays in the port clearance process, and that smuggled goods routinely enter Nigeria’s seaports and cross its land borders.

Domestic and foreign observers identify corruption as a serious obstacle to economic growth and poverty reduction. Nigeria scored 27 out of 100 in Transparency International’s 2017 Corruption Perception Index (CPI), placing it in the 148th position out of the 180 countries ranked, a one point decline from its 2016 score of 28. (From 2012-2016, the country’s average score has been 26.7) The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Establishment Act of 2004 established the EFCC to prosecute individuals involved in financial crimes and other acts of economic “sabotage.” Traditionally, the EFCC has encountered the most success in prosecuting low-level Internet scam operators. A relative few high-profile convictions have taken place, such as a former governor of Adamawa state, a former governor of Bayelsa State, a former Inspector General of Police, and a former Chair of the Board of the Nigerian Port Authority. However, in the case of the convicted governor of Bayelsa State, the President of Nigeria pardoned him in March 2013. The case of the former governor of Adamawa, who was convicted in 2017, is under appeal and he is currently free on bail.

Since taking office in 2015, President Buhari has focused on implementing a campaign pledge to address corruption. Since then, the EFCC arrested a former National Security Advisor (NSA), a former Minister of State for Finance, a former NSA Director of Finance and Administration and others on charges related to diversion of funds intended for government arms procurement.

The Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act of 2001 established an Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to prosecute individuals, government officials, and businesses for corruption. The Act punishes over 19 offenses, including accepting or giving bribes, fraudulent acquisition of property, and concealment of fraud. Nigerian law stipulates that giving and receiving bribes constitute criminal offences and, as such, are not tax deductible. Since its inauguration, the ICPC has secured convictions in 71 cases (through 2015 latest data available) with numerous cases still open and pending. In April 2014, a presidential committee set up to review Nigeria’s ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs) recommended that the EFCC, the ICPC, and the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) be merged into one organization. The federal government, however, rejected this proposal to consolidate the work of these three anti-graft agencies.

Nigeria gained admittance into the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) in May 2007. In July 2017, Nigeria’s membership was suspended due to concerns about the Nigeria FIU’s operational autonomy and ability to protect classified information; Nigeria continues efforts to resolve these outstanding issues. The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) removed Nigeria from its list of Non-Cooperative Countries and Territories in June 2006. In October 2013, the FATF decided that Nigeria had substantially addressed the technical requirements of its FATF Action Plan and agreed to remove Nigeria from its monitoring process conducted by FATF’s International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG). On March 7, 2018, in an effort to meet the requirements for FATF membership, the National Assembly passed a new bill that makes the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit an independent body (i.e. not part of the EFCC) that has authority to share information with counterparts abroad. The bill is now with President Buhari for him to assent in order that it comes into force.

The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) Act of 2007 provided for the establishment of the NEITI organization, charged with developing a framework for transparency and accountability in the reporting and disclosure by all extractive industry companies of revenue due to or paid to the GoN. NEITI serves as a member of the international Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), which provides a global standard for revenue transparency for extractive industries like oil and gas and mining. Nigeria is party to the United Nations Convention against Corruption. Nigeria is not a member of the OECD and not party to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery.

Resources to Report Corruption

Economic and Financial Crimes Commission
Headquarters: No. 5, Fomella Street, Off Adetokunbo Ademola Crescent, Wuse II, Abuja, Nigeria. Branch offices in Ikoyi, Lagos State; Port Harcourt, Rivers State; Independence Layout, Enugu State; Kano, Kano State; Gombe, Gombe State.
Hotline: +234 9 9044752 or +234 9 9044753

Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission:
Abuja Office – Headquarters
Plot 802 Constitution Avenue, Central District, PMB 535, Garki Abuja
Phone/Fax: 234 9 523 8810

10. Political and Security Environment

Political, religious, and ethnic violence continue to affect Nigeria. The Islamist group Jama’atu Ahl as-Sunnah li-Da’awati wal-Jihad, popularly known as Boko Haram, and the Islamic State in West Africa (ISIS-WA) have waged a violent campaign to destabilize the Government of Nigeria (GoN), killing tens of thousands of people, forcing over two million to flee to other areas of Nigeria or into neighboring countries and leaving more than seven million people in need of humanitarian assistance in the country’s northeast. Boko Haram has targeted markets, churches, mosques, government installations, educational institutions, and leisure sites with Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and Suicide Vehicle-borne IEDS across nine Northern states and in Abuja. In 2017, Boko Haram employed hundreds of suicide bombings agains the local population. Women and children carried out many of the attacks. There were multiple reports of Boko Haram killing entire villages suspected of cooperating with the government. ISIS-WA targeted civilians with attacks or kidnappings less frequently than Boko Haram. ISIS-WA employed targeted acts of violence and intimidation against civilians in order to expand its area of influence and gain control over critical economic resources. As part of a violent and deliberate campaign, ISIS-WA also targeted government figures, traditional leaders, and contractors.

President Buhari has focused on matters of insecurity in Nigeria and in neighboring countries. In 2015, the Nigerian military drove Boko Haram forces out of much of its territory, leaving the group only in control of some rural areas of Borno state. While Boko Haram no longer controls as much territory as it once did, the two insurgencies nevertheless maintain the ability to stage forces in rural areas and launch attacks against civilian and military targets across the Northeast.

Due to challenging security dynamics in the North, the U.S. Diplomatic Mission to Nigeria has significantly limited official travel north of Abuja. Such trips occur only with security measures designed to mitigate the threats of car-bomb attacks and abductions.

Decades of neglect, persistent poverty, and environmental damage caused by oil spills have left Nigeria’s oil rich Niger Delta region vulnerable to renewed violence. Though each oil-producing state receives a 13 percent derivation of the oil revenue produced within its borders, and several government agencies, including the Niger Delta Development Corporation (NDDC), are tasked with implementing development projects, bureaucratic mismanagement and corruption have prevented these investments from yielding meaningful economic and social development in the region. Niger Delta militants have demonstrated their ability to attack and severely damage oil instillations at will.

Other security challenges facing Nigeria include increasing rural violence caused by criminal actors and by conflicts between migratory pastoralists and farmers, and thousands of refugees fleeing to Nigeria from Cameroon’s English-speaking region due to tensions there.

11. Labor Policies and Practices

Nigeria’s skilled labor pool has declined over the past decade due to inadequate educational systems, limited employment opportunities, and the migration of educated Nigerians to other countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, and South Africa. The low employment capacity of Nigeria’s formal sector means that almost three-quarters of all Nigerians work in the informal and agricultural sectors or are unemployed. Companies involved in formal sector businesses such as banking and insurance possess an adequately skilled workforce (often trained abroad in private institutions or at the better-funded universities). Manufacturing and construction sector workers often require on-the-job training. The result is that while individual wages are low, individual productivity is also low and overall labor costs can be high. The Buhari Administration is pushing reforms in the education sector to improve the supply of skilled workers but this and other efforts run by state governors are in their initial stages.

Labor organizations in Nigeria remain politically active and are prone to call for strikes on a regular basis against the national and state governments. While most labor actions are peaceful, difficult economic conditions fuel the risk that these actions could become violent.

The Right of Association

Nigeria’s constitution guarantees the rights of free assembly and association, and protects workers’ rights to form or belong to trade unions. Several statutory laws, nonetheless, restrict the rights of workers to associate or disassociate with labor organizations. Nigerian unions belong to one of two trade union federations, the Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC), which tends to represent junior (i.e., blue collar) workers, and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) representing the “senior” (i.e., white collar) workers. According to figures provided by the Ministry of Labor and Employment, total union membership stands at roughly 7 million. A majority of these union members work in the public sector, although unions exist across the private sector. The Trade Union Amendment Act of 2005 allowed non-management senior staff to join unions. Nigeria’s largest labor federation, the NLC, contains 40 affiliate unions. The TUC includes 23 member unions.

Collective Bargaining

Collective bargaining occurred throughout the public sector and the organized private sector in 2017. However, public sector employees have become increasingly concerned about the GoN and state governments’ failure to honor previous agreements from the collective bargaining process.

Collective bargaining in the oil and gas industry is relatively efficient compared to other sectors. Issues pertaining to salaries, benefits, health and safety, and working conditions tend to be resolved quickly through negotiations. One exception is a long-standing, unresolved dispute over the industry’s use of contract labor.

Workers under collective bargaining agreements cannot participate in strikes unless their unions comply with the requirements of the law, which includes provisions for mandatory mediation and referral of disputes to the GoN. Despite these restrictions on staging strikes, unions occasionally conduct strikes in the private and public sectors without warning. Localized strikes occurred in the education, government, energy, power, and healthcare sectors in 2017. The law forbids employers from granting general wage increases to workers without prior government approval, but the law is not often enforced.

The Nigerian Minister of Labor and Employment may refer unresolved disputes to the Industrial Arbitration Panel (IAP) and the National Industrial Court (NIC). In 2015, the National Industrial Court launched an Alternative Dispute Resolution Center. Union officials question the effectiveness and independence of the NIC, believing it unable to resolve disputes stemming from GoN failure to fulfill contract provisions for public sector employees. Union leaders criticize the arbitration system’s dependence on the Minister of Labor and Productivity’s referrals to the IAP.

Child Labor

Nigeria’s laws regarding minimum age for child labor and hazardous work are inconsistent. Article 59 of the Labor Act of 1974 sets the minimum age of employment at 12, and it is in force in all 36 states of Nigeria. The Act also permits children of any age to do light work alongside a family member in agriculture, horticulture, or domestic service.

The Federal 2003 Child’s Right Act (CRA) codifies the rights of children in Nigeria and must be ratified by each State to become law in its territory. There were no new adoptions of the CRA during the reporting period. To date, 23 states and the Federal Capital Territory have ratified the CRA, with 12 of the remaining 13 states located in northern Nigeria.

The CRA states that the provisions related to young people in the Labor Act apply to children under the CRA, but also that the CRA supersedes any other legislation related to children. The CRA restricts children under the age of 18 from any work aside from light work for family members; however, Article 59 of the Labor Act applies these restrictions only to children under the age of 12. This language makes it unclear what minimum ages apply for certain types of work in the country.

While the Labor Act forbids the employment of youth under age 18 in work that is dangerous to their health, safety, or morals, it allows children to participate in certain types of work that may be dangerous by setting different age thresholds for various activities. For example, the Labor Act allows children age 16 and older to work at night in gold mining and the manufacturing of iron, steel, paper, raw sugar, and glass. Furthermore, the Labor Act does not extend to children employed in domestic service. Thus, children are vulnerable to dangerous work in industrial undertakings, underground, with machines, and in domestic service. In addition, the prohibitions established by the Labor Act and CRA are not comprehensive or specific enough to facilitate enforcement. In 2013, the National Steering Committee for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor in Nigeria (NSC) validated the Report on the Identification of Hazardous Child Labor in Nigeria. Currently, the report is with the Ministry of Labor and Productivity (MOLP) for the promulgation of guidelines for operationalizing the report.

The GoN adopted the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition), Enforcement and Administration Act of 2015 on March 26, 2015. While not specifically directed against child labor, many sections of the new law support anti-child labor efforts. The Violence against Persons Prohibition Act was signed into law in on May 25, 2015 and again while not specifically focused on child labor, it covers related elements such as “depriving a person of his/her liberty,” “forced financial dependence/economic abuse,” and “forced isolation/separation from family and friends” and is applicable to minors.

Acceptable Conditions of Work

Nigeria’s Labor Act provides for a 40-hour work week, two to four weeks of annual leave, and overtime and holiday pay for all workers except agricultural and domestic workers. No law prohibits compulsory overtime. The Act establishes general health and safety provisions, some of which specifically apply to young or female workers, and requires the Ministry of Labor to inspect factories for compliance with health and safety standards. Under-funding and limited resources undermine MOLP oversight capacity, and construction sites and other non-factory work sites are often ignored. Nigeria’s labor law requires employers to compensate injured workers and dependent survivors of workers killed in industrial accidents.

Draft legislation, such as a new Labor Standards Act which includes provisions on child labor, and an Occupational Safety and Health Act that would regulate hazardous work, have remained under consideration in the National Assembly since 2006.

Foreign Workers

Admission of foreign workers is overseen by the Federal Ministry of the Interior. Employers must seek the consent of the Ministry in order to employ foreign workers by applying for an “expatriate quota.” The quota allows a company to employ foreign nationals in specifically approved job designations as well as specifying the validity period of the designations provided on the quota.

There are two types of visas which may be granted, depending on the length of stay. For short-term assignments, an employer must apply for and receive a temporary work permit, allowing the employee to carry out some specific tasks. The temporary work permit is a single-entry visa, and expires after three months. There are no numerical limitations on short-term visas, and foreign nationals who meet the conditions for grant of a visa may apply for as many short-term visas as required.

For long-term assignments, the employer should apply for a “subject-to-regularization” visa (STR). To apply for an STR, an employer must apply for and obtain an expatriate quota. The expatriate quota states positions in the company that will be occupied by expatriate staff. Upon arrival in Nigeria, the employee will need to validate his or her visa by applying for a work and residence permit.

12. OPIC and Other Investment Insurance Programs

The U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) offers all its credit and risk products to U.S. investors in Nigeria. OPIC has a number of active projects in Nigeria, which primarily include power generation, finance (micro and SME), insurance and education (American International School in Abuja). Nigeria concluded an investment incentive agreement with OPIC in 1999.

13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy

Host Country Statistical Source USG or International Statistical Source USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Economic Data Year Amount Year Amount
Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (M USD) 2016 N/A 2016 USD 404,653 
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical source USG or International Statistical Source USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in Partner Country (M USD, stock positions) 2016 N/A 2016 USD 2,480 BEA data available at
Host Country’s FDI in the United States (M USD, stock positions) 2016 N/A 2016 USD 53 BEA data available at
Total Inbound Stock of FDI as % host GDP 2016 N/A 2016 N/A N/A

Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI

Data not available.

Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment

Data not available.

14. Contact for More Information

Trade and Investment Officer
Plot 1075 Diplomatic Drive
Abuja, Nigeria
+234 9 461 4000

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