Legal Market Overview
Despite its position as the largest economy in the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC), a lot of Cameroon’s economic potential has yet to be unleashed. Traditionally, natural resources and agricultural products are the main drivers of the country’s economy. Although an increase in natural gas production was registered, approximately eight million Cameroonians still live below the poverty line. Technology might play a role in turning the page; mobile payment services have already improved financial inclusion significantly and the demand for more fintech is met by Silicon Mountain, Cameroon’s answer to the Californian tech start-up scene. In addition, a number of infrastructure projects, such as road improvements or the Douala Grand Mall, have boosted work in the construction sector. However, political turmoil and weak governance hinder more substantial economic growth.
As President Paul Biya marks 37 years in office, he has not yet been able to resolve the ‘Anglophone crisis’. In fact, the conflict between the English-speaking minority and the francophone population culminated in bloody protests in 2019, and, as a result, foreign investment in Cameroon’s anglophone regions have come to a complete halt. On top of that, prevailing corruption in the country causes investors to shy away.
Douala is the economic epicentre of Cameroon and is also home to most local law practitioners. The market mainly consists of mid-sized corporate and commercial firms, often acting as local counsel to international clients in collaboration with global heavyweights. More and more, local lawyers are cementing direct client relationships and acting independently of international law firms. In many cases, they handle work relating to several sub-Saharan jurisdictions, as OHADA (the Organization for the Harmonization of African Business Law) provisions apply to 16 West and Central African nations. As government authorities and state agencies have begun to appreciate the value of professional legal counsel, the legal market in the capital of Yaoundé is growing. Particularly prominent firms include Etah-Nan & Co, JING & Partners and Ngassam, Fansi & Mouafo, Avocats Associés. D. Moukouri & Partners and Kouengoua & Mbattang Law Firm are making their first appearance in our rankings this year.