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By Louis-Marie Kakdeu, Ulrich D’pola Kamdem, Egoh Modi Aziz  (Download the Pdf Version (Full Report))


The building permit is an urban planning authorization issued by the City council of the municipality where the project is located. In Cameroon, it is issued to anyone wishing to engage in a construction initiative, change the location of an existing construction, modify its external appearance or volume, and even to create additional levels. To deliver the document, the technical services check that the planned constructions comply with the town planning regulations concerning the layout of the works, their nature, location, architecture, layout of their surroundings, and respect the general rules of construction in force. They also check whether the work plan has been drawn up under the responsibility of an architect who is a registered member of the National Order of Architects of Cameroon.

However, little or no work is done to check the whole process from a governance point of view. Does the issue of building permits in Cameroon respect the criteria of effectiveness, efficiency, relevance and sustainability? This is the question that this report seeks to answer. This thematic report is organized around four interconnected chapters including policy recommendations. The first chapter deals with the analysis of the legal framework, informed by the question as to know whether this framework can adequately promote private investment in Cameroon. Chapter two focuses on the administrative process, which is analyzed from the perspective of determining whether the implementation of the legal provisions is effective and efficient. This then prompts the analysis of the gender aspect in Chapter three in order to check whether access to building permits takes into consideration gender equality. Finally, the issue of free trade is analyzed in Chapter four with the aim of ascertaining whether the procedures for obtaining building permits is free and competitive for foreigners.

In the final analysis, it emerges that the building permit legal framework in Cameroon is not sufficiently incentivised to encourage new constructions. As such, the preference for informal constructions remains high. This tendency is further exacerbated by the lengthy bureaucratic procedures and corrupt practices involved in the process. An important finding related to the analysis of gender issues in this report is that even though the legislative framework does not establish a difference in treatment between men and women in their access to building permits, one notes that cultural practices in some communities as well as financial practices in banks make it more difficult for women than men to have access to building permits. The analysis in this report also brings to light the fact that only access to the building permit for foreigners is completely free despite the corrupt practices involved in the process.

The Denis & Lenora Foretia Foundation promotes economic freedom policies that are evidenced-based. The analysis and findings in this report certainly have important policy implications for key government policy stakeholders concerned with improving access to construction permits in Cameroon.

Dr. William Hermann Arrey

Interim Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
(Denis & Lenora Foretia Foundation)

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