A Quest For More Women In Top Management Roles In Local And Regional Governments In Africa, by Chofor Che, published at on 24 March 2014

The activities of local and regional governments influence the lives of both men and women in ways that are fundamental to satisfying basic needs and the quality of life. Men and women do not, however, enjoy equal access to nor have control over the basic services furnished by regional and local governments because women continue to be underrepresented in both political leadership and administration at the regional and local government levels. Yet local government most especially as the sphere of government nearest to the grassroots, is in the best position to include more women in top management positions in decisions made at regional and local government.

Although women make up over 50 per cent of the world’s population, they continue to be underrepresented as elected officials, voters and leaders at the regional and local government levels especially in Africa. The consequence of such a lacuna is that women do not have equal influence in policy making which affects their lives in one way or another. The involvement of women in top management and leadership positions at regional and local governments can have a significant influence on domestic policy especially issues which affect their families’ daily lives such as infrastructural development, sanitation, education and healthcare.

Elements that limit or facilitate the participation of women in political processes vary according to social or cultural conditions, economic situation, geography, and political context and systems. These elements commonly considered as barriers to the participation of women in top management positions in regional and local government affairs include outright discrimination and gender stereotypes. Other elements include, culturally prescribed domestic roles, lack of confidence, low voter education, lack of financial and socio-economic capital, ‘winner take all’ electoral systems, and political institutions that are not conducive in striking a balance between public life and family life.

Although internationally there exists a rights-based framework, which advocates for the equal participation ofmen and women in political decision-making, including at the local and regional government levels, progress has been uneven and slow. Despite various commitments like the Beijing Platform for Action and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) made by the international community to empower women via increased women’s political participation, the world average proportion of women in top management positions at regional and local government levels in Africa remains low.

Despite the low participation of women in top management positions at local and regional government levels, according to the World Bank, several countries including Morocco, South Africa, Ghana, Rwanda and Mali have made some progress. For instance women municipal leaders in Ghana took advantage of new opportunities to work together and formally organize themselves via the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM)’s African Local Governance Program (ALGP). FCM and its African associates agreed to focus on gender equality and increase the participation of women in local government administration, in the context of working to achieve the MDGs related to women.

Rwanda is another African state which has taken long strides to ameliorate the situation of the participation of women at top management levels at regional and local governments. As part of the ALGP-supported workshops, participants from Rwanda tabled a report that found that women find it easier to approach women local and regional officials and women officials tend to attract more women to their community meetings.

Gender equality has been a priority of the Association des municipalities du Mali (AMM) since 2004, but until 2006 activities to promote women’s equality at the local government most especially were relatively unstructured. With financial support from FCM, 600 of the 720 women municipal officials from all regions of Mali came together to found AMM’s women’s caucus. The caucus created a structure which has focal points in each of the country’s eight regions and one at the capital, Bamako. A secretariat was also created to support its work. With a formal structure to guide its contribution to gender equality, AMM has been working with the central government on the municipal dimensions of gender equality matters, especially the fight against poverty and the right of women to own property. The existence of the AMM also allows women municipal representatives to learn from the experience of women in other parts of the world.

Men and women can best fulfill their personal, family and community responsibilities when they have equal access to regional and local government programs and services. It is thus germane for regional and local governments in Africa to be given an opportunity to comprehend gender roles and responsibilities, to recognize factors that affect gender relations, and to play a role in promoting gender equality via their policies and programs. Equitable access to programs and services at the regional and local government levels commence with measures to ensure equitable participation by men and women in consultative processes and local and regional government decision making at top management and leadership levels. Men and women need to beable to participate fully, allowing them to influence the outcome of decision-making processes and to play a substantive role in deciding on regional and local government concerns especially the allocation of public funds in order to reflect the needs and aspirations of both men and women.

- See more at:


Tags: , ,

Stepping Up Air Transport Safety And Capacity In Sub Saharan Africa, by Chofor Che, published at, 18 March 2014

Sub Saharan African lags behind every other region in the world when it concerns airfreight volume. According to statistics from the African Development Bank, measured in kilometers travelled and metric tons the region can only boast of 1.5 per cent of the global industry, whereas the Pacific region and East Africa hosts 35.7 per cent of the air transport industry. Sub Saharan Africa counts only for about 1.5 per cent of the world’s passengers in both international and domestic flights compared to 28 per cent in North America.

On the continent the air transport industry is dominated by three major airlines which include South African Airlines, Kenyan Airways and Ethiopian Airlines. According to a 2013 IOSA study at least 200 African airlines are presently operating in Africa of which only 38 meet global safety standards.

Poor safety records remain the greatest challenge in this industry. According to a Mo Ibrahim Foundation report of late 2013, despite the fact that terminal capacity and runways are usually adequate, surveillance and air traffic control remain a bone of contention.

Another impediment plaguing the air transport industry in Sub Saharan Africa is the cost of fuel. On the world’s stage, fuel accounts for about 35 per cent of an airline’s operational cost. This ranges from 45 to 55 per cent in Africa, making fuel prices in some stations in Africa twice as expensive as what attains averagely in other parts of the world.

Airport taxes in Sub Saharan Africa are also exorbitant. In comparison to several airports outside Africa, passenger’s taxes in Sub Saharan Africa are very high. The ADB purports that passenger landing tax in Accra, Ghana is $ 75 and $137 in Ambouli, Djibouti compared to $14 in Paris, France and $6 in Mumbai, India.

In 2013 Airports Council International found out that air safety in Africa worsened in 2012 to 3.71 Western-built jet hull losses per million flights up from 3.27 in 2011. Sub Saharan Africa continues to have the poorest air safety record in the world despite the recent focus on the Malaysian air plane crash in March 2014 which has rocked the air waves. Most accidents in Sub Saharan Africa take place in two countries, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In 2013 the Africa Strategic Improvement Action Plan was put forth by African states and endorsed by the African Union. This plan is supposed to strengthen regulatory oversight and address safety deficiency on the continent. The idea is to have world class safety performance by the end of 2015.

Sub Saharan Africa needs to translate such action plans into concrete actions. African leaders have been holding meetings with endorsements from the African Union to no avail. It is important for African states to first of all revisit their air safety conditions. Infrastructure is very germane. Most airports on the continent need to meet international standards. The equipments used at most airports in Africa need to be state of the art. The personnel need to be well trained as colleagues in other parts of the world. Corruption at airports in Africa needs to be curbed. It is germane for governments to rectify these ills for better safety conditions and air transport financial gains for the continent.

- See more at:

Leave a comment

Posted by on March 25, 2014 in Africa Development, African Union


Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Vocational And Technical Skills In The Informal And Rural Sector In Africa – Chofor Che , posted at on 18 Feb 2014

The mismatch of skills in the informal and rural sector to the needs of the labour market in Africa has been identified as one of the reasons for serious youth unemployment and the continent’s underdevelopment. According to an African Economic Outlook (AEO) study, the most difficult areas for recruiters to have employees are those areas which demand technical qualifications, such as the oil and gas sector, the mining sector, the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, the manufacturing industry, the agri-business sector and the logistics sector. Most of Africa’s tertiary educational establishments focus on public sector employment rather than on the private sector labour demands. How can the continent overturn this impediment especially as there is much talk of Africa’s renaissance?

Graduates in the fields on humanities and social sciences find it difficult to get employed than those who specialize in the information technology, agriculture and the engineering fields. A 2013 Mo Ibrahim study shows that the social sciences and the humanities have higher enrolment rates and graduates. Those in the engineering, manufacturing, construction and agricultural sectors tail the list in terms of higher educational enrolment and graduation. Just 2 per cent of youth in Africa are studying agriculture and the continent is in dire need of specialists in these fields to move the continent forward especially as agriculture contributes on average 25 per cent of Africa’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Sub Saharan Africa has the lowest share of engineering graduates in the world. Natural resource sectors such as the mining, oil and gas industries employ less than 1 per cent of Africa’s workforce. Despite these disturbing statistics the continent suffers from serious brain drain because employment conditions in these sectors remain vulnerable.

An African Development Bank (ADB) study purports that in Sub Saharan Africa; non wage employment represents more than 80 per cent of total employment for women and more than 60 per cent for men. 9 to 10 rural and urban workers have informal jobs in Africa most of whom are women and youth. The largest employees in Africa are the retail, agriculture and hospitality industries which remain insecure. Almost 90 per cent of jobs furnished by the agricultural sector for instance are vulnerable.

There is therefore a need for joint efforts to make technical and vocational skills more appealing to African youth and women. African states in collaboration with universities and think tanks need to encourage enrolment especially at the university level for specializations like the engineering, manufacturing, construction, natural resource and agriculture sectors. Central governments in collaboration with regional and local governments need to make jobs for instance in the agricultural sector more secured. If these jobs continue to be vulnerable, African youth and women will not be interested in enrolling in areas like agriculture thus a lacuna in the private sector labour demands. As existing public and private employment capacity is too small, investing in the informal and rural sector can be seen as an opportunity if the challenges of wages and productivity alongside education and training are overcome as well. It is thus time for African states to rethink matching of skills in the informal and rural sector to meet the needs of the labour market in Africa.

- See more at:

Leave a comment

Posted by on February 23, 2014 in Africa Development, Local government


Tags: , , , , , ,

Repatriating Illegal Financial Outflows Back To Africa For Rapid Development And Renaissance in 2014 – Chofor Che , published 23 January 2014 at

Illegal financial transactions (IFT) from the continent of Africa remain an impediment to development. Some of these finances are starched in foreign bank accounts with the complicity of corrupt government officials of African states. According to the Mo Ibrahim Foundation in a 2013 publication, from 1980 to 2009, Africa was a net creditor to the world, with a loss of finances to the tune of about $ 1.4 trillion. Central Africa and North West Africa witnessed an annual outflow of $ 30.4 million during the period 2000 to 2009. It is vital to look at the 5 top states in Africa with the largest IFT per capita. It is also important to examine in terms of volume, the top 5 African states with the largest cumulative IFT during the period 2000 to 2009. As a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), it is also important to examine the 5 states with the largest cumulative IFT from 1980 to 2009, before suggesting how IFT can be curbed to make the continent more developed in 2014.

Global Financial Integrity 2013 of the African Development Bank (ADB) purports that the top 5 states in Africa with the largest IFT per capita are Botswana, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Libya and Seychelles. In terms of volume, the top 5 African states with the largest cumulative IFT during the period 2000 to 2009 were Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Nigeria and South Africa. As a percentage of GDP the top 5 states with the largest cumulative IFT from 1980 to 2009 were Chad, Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea and Seychelles. In most of these states especially the states rich in natural resources, the natural resource sector happens to be the main source of IFT. Oil and gas exploration as well as the mining and forestry industries in Africa are hard hit by IFT. In African states poor in natural resources, IFT usually emanates from mispricing of trade by companies of all sizes. Corruption in the public procurement sector also remains an area which fuels IFT. Such malpractices include serious money laundering activities. The central governments of African states are usually aware of these illicit transactions especially as most top ranking government officials are involved in such malpractices. Those who are most hit by IFT are the poor masses in Africa who do not have a say in such transactions. A majority of poor Africans have to pay the price especially via heavy taxation.

It is thus vital that in 2014, the international community, national governments in Africa and abroad, the private sector at home and in the diaspora, universities and think tanks all put their hands on deck and change the status quo. Carefully rethinking through a strategy on how unaccounted finances starched in foreign bank accounts especially Swiss accounts, can be repatriated back to Africa may be a first step to take. Policy suggestions to halt IFT may also include Double Tax Avoidance Agreements (DTAA) and Automatic Exchanges of Tax Information (AEI). Africa equally needs a complete reform of her customs services and serious anti-money laundering initiatives. It is also important for corruption to be curbed in the management of public procurement. The activities of multinationals involved in oil and gas exploration as well as in the mining and forestry sectors in Africa are to be encouraged, but not at the detriment of ignorant and poor Africans. It is thus vital for central governments to ensure that these multinationals are not involved in money laundering and IFT. Apart from the above mentioned suggestions, effective financial and administrative decentralization of financial and human resources in African states is also germane to curb IFT. If African governments take some of these suggestions into consideration then curbing IFT can be a reality on the continent.

- See more at:

Leave a comment

Posted by on January 30, 2014 in Africa Development


Tags: , , , , ,

Regional Integration in the CEMAC zone under the peril of implosion – Chofor Che , 11 january 2014

In June 2013 Head of States of Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Chad met during their last summit and agreed amongst other issues that visa requirements would henceforth not be obligatory for citizens of member states circulating in these states. This move was to take effect as from January 1, 2014. These six member states out of the eleven member states of the Economic Community for Central Africa (ECCAS) region share a common currency zone (the CFA Franc) and a monetary zone union called CEMAC (Communauté economique et monetaire d’Afrique centrale). I argued in an article published on the 22 July 2013 by that the huge population in these six member states makes it potentially a lucrative consumer market, yet regional cooperation arrangements amongst these countries have not succeeded in unleashing this full economic potential and move it towards economic integration.

Equatorial Guinea and Gabon most especially seem not to be in agreement with decisions arrived at during the June 2013 summit. In other to travel to Gabon for instance, citizens of member states are still requested to obtain a visa. As one who has worked closely with the Gabonese Embassy in Yaoundé, obtaining a visa is expensive and documents especially an invitation letter have to be notarized by local authorities in Gabon and sent to concerned individuals and organizations before they can obtain a visa. The process is very frustrating especially for citizens of the same regional group. The situation in Equatorial Guinea is even worse. On the 6 of January 2014 Cameroonians working at the Equatorial Guinean and Cameroonian border town of Kyo-Ossi were dismayed that the border was closed. Cameroonians who worked across the border were not allowed to carry out their operations. The Equatorial Guinean and Gabonese borders were also shut down. What an aberration when we are clamoring for regional integration. Analysts have argued that a state like Equatorial Guinea is afraid that opening up its boarders to citizens of members states will encourage massive illegal immigration of citizens of member states of the CEMAC zone to the detriment of Equatorial Guineans. This precarious situation in the CEMAC zone impinges on the development of the market for consumer goods while stifling local entrepreneurship. Local producers are left with no choice than to be involved with smuggling and illicit exportation. Why can’t the leaders of the CEMAC zone especially Equatorial Guinea and Gabon not copy from other regional groups like the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) by eradicating barriers like visas for citizens of member states?

The authorities of Equatorial Guinea and Gabon are definitely making a great mistake. Eradicating visa requirements for member states of the CEMAC zone remains a laudable initiative especially as such an initiative would go a long way to facilitate business transactions and economic gains amongst member states of this region. This would definitely unleash the full economic potential and facilitate the move towards economic integration in the region. The eradication of the visa requirements for these six concerned states of the CEMAC would ease the circulation of goods and agricultural produce in these member states. Closing the boarders by Equatorial Guinea is definitely a wrong policy move especially in an era of globalization. Such a move has never stopped illegal immigration and illicit smuggling of goods. The Head of State of Equatorial Guinea needs to rethink fast about such a measure before it causes diplomatic and economic tensions between member states of the CEMAC zone. It is also important that Heads of State of these member states put in place other measures like curbing heavy taxes in their respective member states so as to encourage local business initiatives as well as small and medium size enterprises. Encouraging partnership cooperation among the private sectors of these member states so as to facilitate rapid regional integration and economic growth is also very vital for regional integration. If such measures are not taken into consideration, the CEMAC region will continue to be considered a failure in terms of governance, democracy and economic growth because such porous policies have contributed to the region’s poor image regionally and internationally.
- See more at:

1 Comment

Posted by on January 12, 2014 in Africa Development


Tags: , , , , , ,

Rethinking participatory and decentralized rural development in Cameroon, By Chofor Che, 29 December 2013

On the 16th of December 2013, the Government of Cameroon and the African Development Bank (ADB) signed the second phase of the loan agreement termed the Grass field Participatory and Decentralized Rural Development Project (GP DERUDEP). According to the ADB, farmers of the North West region (NWR) of Cameroon are to adequately benefit from this loan. The total amount of the project is estimated at UA 25.600 million. The Government of Cameroon is expected to provide the remaining UA 8.80 million. As a continuation of phase one of the project from 2005 to 2011, it is expected that phase two will be carried out in areas of the NWR with strong production potential like Widikum, a sub division with a growing potential of palm oil production. Apparently phase two of the project is to affect 8 out of the 36 municipal council areas of the NWR. It is hoped that phase two of GP DERUDEP will improve on agricultural production especially the rehabilitation and construction of farm to market roads in the NWR.

The putting into place of phase two of GP DERUDEP has created mixed reactions in the state of Cameroon. Many are optimistic about the success of the project while a lot of Cameroonians home and abroad remain pessimistic about the project. During the weekly broadcast of Cameroon Calling, a prominent programme on political and economic developments in Cameroon on Cameroon’s Radio and Television Coporation (CRTV) on the 29th of December 2013, the coordinator of GP DERUDEP confessed that the State of Cameroon planned to also involve some isolated municipal council areas that were not involved during the first phase of this project; but the ADB imposed a road map for the realization of phase two of this project. All the same he added that concerned municipal councils will be involved as partners in the project especially as they will be called upon to also contribute some small amount of funding towards the effective realization of phase two of the project.

As a keen analyst especially on issues of decentralized development on the continent and in Cameroon in particular, in as much as the intentions of the ADB may be well founded, the impact of GP DERUDEP may not adequately address the concerns of the population of the NWR. First of all several inhabitants contend that several activities earmarked under phase one of this project were not well executed due to lack of technical expertise. Others claim that a lot of money apportioned under phase one of the grant has been siphoned by corrupt government officials.

Financial aid has never been a sustainable panacea for development in Africa. ADB loans and grants as well as financial assistance from other donor organizations have not adequately addressed poverty and development on the continent. Proof of this is that the United Nations (UN) is presently worried about the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on the continent by 2015 because financial assistance has proven to be inadequate for development of the continent. Rather than signing loan agreements, which will only enrich few corrupt officials, empowering municipal councils may be the way to go. Municipal councils definitely need to be given substantial administrative and financial autonomy so as to take charge of rural development. The country does not have an adequate financial equalization formula, which can curb the imbalance between rich and poor municipal council areas. A council like the Widikum Council in the NWR could benefit from training of appointed and elected staff on the conception and the management of rural projects especially in the production of palm oil. This municipal council as well as other municipal councils in the country could also reinforce the role of women in top management of their council areas. Job creation for youth and women should be a priority of such partnerships between international organizations, central governments and municipal councils. Cameroon is blessed with rich natural and human resources and does not have to rely so much on financial assistance from international donors. If only the state could take some of these suggestions into account rather than depend on foreign aid then the state would realize some improvement in participatory and decentralized rural development.


Tags: , , ,

A recap on the overall governance situation in the Central African region – Chofor Che – 27 December 2013

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation published its 2013 Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) in October 2013. Although this was the seventh year the IIAG has been published, it charts governance performance since 2000. This publication is timely especially as the continent celebrates 50 years of the founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) now the African Union (AU). It is important for organisations like the Mo Foundation to make an assessment of the governance situation on the continent, especially as we have just two years away from for the target date of the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) slated for 2015. This contribution therefore reads into the IIAG and gives an analysis of the governance situation in countries in the Central African region. First of all it is vital for a general overview of the governance situation on the continent and indicators used in the IIAG.

The findings of the 2013 Ibrahim Index of African Governance show that there have been some improvements across the African continent. 94 percent of people residing in Africa reside in a country that has made some improvements in governance since 2000. Eight states out of the continent’s fifty-two states performed well in the 2003 report. Nonetheless there are still humongous challenges to thrash especially in the allocation of financial and natural resources. In as much as there have been some improvement in indicators used by the IIAG such as Human Development; Sustainable Economic Opportunity; Participation and Human Rights, there has been a serious decline in an important indicator such as Safety and the Rule of law.

It is thus important to give an assessment of the overall governance situation in the Central African region according to indicators outlined in the IIAG. While states such as Mauritius, Botswana and Cape Verde are ranked 1st, 2nd and 3rd respectively, states in the Central African region ranked amongst the states on the continent with the poorest governance record. Gabon is ranked 24th, Cameroon is ranked 35th Congo Brazzaville is ranked 43rd, Equatorial Guinea is ranked 45th, Chad is ranked 48th, the Central African Republic is ranked 49th and the Democratic Republic of Congo is 51st. This is a clear indication that states in the Central African region continue to perform poorly with respect to Safety and the Rule of Law; Participation and human rights; Sustainable Economic Opportunity and Human Development.

Many pessimists may question the indicators utilized in the IIAG report, but if the same trends keep on repeating in other reports especially like the African Economic Outlook and the Doing Business Reports then there is a serious problem which African leaders need to address. Addressing the issue of governance needs a holistic approach which should include fighting corruption, improving on infrastructure, creating employment conditions for women and children by adequately revamping the private sector and speeding up the continent’s industrialisation process. Serious importance has to also be given to the deteriorating situation of Safety and the Rule of Law especially in the Central African region. States like the Central African Republic are plunged into a serious armed conflict and apparently this conflict is spilling over into neighboring states like Cameroon. If the deteriorating situation in the Central African region is not turned around especially in the Central African Republic by the African Union, the United Nations and other regional and international organisations, then this could signal an era where we shall see an increase spilling over not only in the Central African region but in Africa.

- See more at:

Leave a comment

Posted by on December 27, 2013 in Africa Development


Tags: , , , , , ,


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,553 other followers

%d bloggers like this: