CAMEROON – According to the National Institute of Statistics (INS), in its annual foreign trade report, from 2021 to 2023, Cameroon spent CFA 173.9 billion on fertilizer imports.

The volume of imports surged dramatically, increasing by 76.2% in 2023 after an 82% rise in 2022.

By the end of 2023, the country had imported 228,326 tons of fertilizer at a cost of approximately CFA 70.9 billion (US$ 43.4M).

In 2022, the country spent CFA 66.4 billion (US$109M) on 129,600 tons of fertilizer, influenced by the rising prices due to the conflict between Russia, a major supplier, and Ukraine.

From 2022 to 2023, fertilizer imports grew by nearly 100,000 tons; between 2021 and 2022, the volumes rose by 73,724 tons.

This sharp increase in expenditures, which were CFA 36.5 billion (US$60M) in 2021, doubled in 2022 and further rose by 6.7% in 2023, pushing Cameroon’s trade deficit beyond CFA 2 trillion (US$3.3B) for the first time.

Recently, projects to build fertilizer manufacturing plants in Cameroon have been slow to materialize.

An example is the production unit of German company Ferrostaal in Limbé, South-West Cameroon, which remains inactive despite being announced over 10 years ago.

This project, estimated at CFA 1.25 trillion (US$2B), aims to produce 600,000 tons of ammonia and 700,000 tons of urea annually.

According to local sources, however, negotiations have stalled primarily over the proposed gas price, which would render the project unprofitable. The issue is currently under review at the National Hydrocarbons Corporation (SNH), as confirmed by the Ministry of Economy.

Speaking before the National Assembly on June 30, 2023, during an oral question session with members of the government, Fuh Calistus Gentry, Acting Minister of Industry, announced that three other projects of the same type were in the pipeline in the country.

Two of these are led by Vision Global, which plans to establish chemical and organic fertilizer production plants in Limbé and Yaoundé in partnership with an American firm. With an investment of approximately CFA 500 billion (US$816M), these plants aim to produce 230,000 tons of ammonia and 400,000 tons of urea annually, with feasibility studies underway.

Furthermore, the interim Minister of Industry highlighted the government’s efforts to finalize plans for a fertilizer production plant in Douala, the economic capital.

Gaz du Cameroun, a local subsidiary of British firm Victoria & Gas (VOG), which operates the Logbaba gas fields, has agreed to supply the plant.

In the meantime, he added that to avoid a drop in agricultural yields, the Cameroon government has launched a subsidy program to halt escalating fertilizer prices.

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