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Monthly Archives: April 2012

In Sudan and South Sudan, questions of nationality, Reuters, by Ulf Laessing and Yara Bayoumy, 30 April 2012


KHARTOUM/JUBA (Reuters) – Sultan Kwaje’s problems started when his country disappeared from under him.

He was born in the southern part of Sudan but has lived in the north for more than three decades. When South Sudan broke away as an independent country from Sudan in July, Kwaje was left on the northern side of the border, a foreigner.

The Sudanese government, he said, fired him from his job in the civil service.

Tens of thousands of South Sudanese in the north lost their jobs after the split. About 500,000 are now technically illegal because they lack official residency papers.

“I just want to leave,” said Kwaje who lives in Wad al-Bashir camp, one of several slums on the outskirts of Sudan’s capital Khartoum. “I am still owed all my severance rights but I just want to leave now. Life is bad. We don’t have jobs, no food, don’t get medical treatment.”

As border fighting between Sudan and South Sudan has threatened to turn into all-out war over the past three weeks, much of the attention has focused on the countries’ unresolved disputes over oil revenues.

But the crisis has also shone a light on the plight of the hundreds of thousands of people who found themselves on the wrong side of the border at independence and are now treated as foreigners.

In Juba, the capital of South Sudan, thousands of Sudanese citizens also face a new government that has declared them expatriates, though it has not yet imposed any new rules for residency papers.

Plans for two deals that would grant each other’s citizens residency and free movement stalled when Khartoum called off a summit in protest at border fighting.

Sudan’s government initially gave southerners until April 8 to get the right papers or leave. But South Sudan has struggled to set up a functioning embassy in Khartoum to issue passports or identity cards.

“I am still waiting for my travel permit from the embassy,” said Moussa Majok, another South Sudanese living in the camp.

“I went there to register but I still haven’t got the papers,” he said, drawing nods from others. “They don’t care about us,” he said, referring to the southern government.

RELIGIOUS TENSIONS

About 400,000 South Sudanese, who initially came to the north fleeing poverty and conflict, have returned home since October 2010. Many more are packing up to make the long journey south in Wad al-Bashir camp, where thousands live in makeshift homes made of wood, mud bricks or corrugated iron.

Bags, bed frames, chairs and other furniture were piled high next to a green mosque on a large square last week, waiting to be loaded onto trucks.

Worries over religious tensions are also fuelling the exodus.

Most South Sudanese are Christian or follow traditional beliefs, while Sudan is mostly Muslim. Last weekend, hundreds of Muslims stormed a Khartoum church complex used by South Sudanese, ransacking buildings and burning bibles.

Even when they get the required travel papers, southerners are stuck because fighting has blocked most roads near the border, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), which helps people return home.

The barge route down the Nile is also blocked. Sudan halted river traffic in March, accusing Juba of using boats to transport weapons to rebels in the north.

Both governments also suspended direct flights between the two countries. Tickets via Kenya or Ethiopia cost up to four times what Sudanese carriers charged last year.

In sign of Khartoum playing hardball, authorities ordered 12,000 southerners waiting for months at Kosti port for barges to leave the camp area within one week, state news agency SUNA said late on Sunday.

“May 5th is the last day for southerners to stay in Kosti port. Authorities have taken measures to expel them to another place,” SUNA quoted the local state governor as saying. He said the southerners in the area were posing a security and environmental threat.

SUDANESE STAYING IN JUBA

In a bustling market in Juba last week, Sudanese traders swapped stories in front of stalls selling mobile phones and sun-baked vegetables.

So far, northerners living in the south say they have not faced the same level of official or social ostracism as southerners in Khartoum. Many northerners in Juba want to stay put.

But beneath the buzz in the market, there was an undercurrent of apprehension.

“We are scared that one of these days they’ll ask us for identification papers,” said 23-year-old Zulfid, sitting behind a glass window selling Chinese-made mobile phones.

Zulfid, went to school in Khartoum but struggled to set up a business in the Sudanese capital. “The government confiscates your goods. There’s bribery.”

He had an easier time in the South.

“In Juba, taxes are less, the dollar is cheaper. Life and business is much better than in the North,” he said,

MUTUAL RESPECT

Saeed Zakariya, a bubbly 25-year-old who sells mobile phone accessories in Juba, got a hint of the legal challenges that may lie ahead if Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and South Sudanese President Salva Kiir fail to find a solution to the citizenship issue.

“I tried to book a ticket to fly to Malakal (another city) in South Sudan), but my papers were not accepted,” Zakariya said. He gave up and stayed in the southern capital.

All the traders that Reuters spoke to said they had faced no mistreatment or ill-will from South Sudanese.

“We are not afraid of being made to go back to the north. Their difference is political, not on the ground. Not a single person has asked me where I’m from,” said Mohamed Suleiman, who came to Juba in 2009 when he could not find a job in his Sudanese hometown in Sennar state.

Yaber, a 54-year-old man living in Juba since 1979, agreed.

“We are very happy. We’re the same people, the same family,” he said. His son, Diyaaeldine was born in the south and the family has no intention of leaving.

Smoking a cigarette in a stall filled with rows of rubber slippers, Yaber, who refused to give his full name, said he was not worried about his future in Juba.

“We share the same life, there is respect,” Yaber said.

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Cement plant or Urban park in Douala, Cameroon? Reminiscing over Bastiat’s thoughts on economic freedom, by Chofor Che, 26 April 2012.


The great economist of blessed memory, Frederic Bastiat, demonstrates that, every time we make a choice, we give something up. In the economic sphere, an act, a habit, an institution, a law produces not only one effect, but a series of effects. Of these effects, the first alone is immediate; it appears simultaneously with its cause; it is seen. The other effects emerge only subsequently; they are not seen; we are fortunate if we foresee them.

Cameroon still falls short, when it comes to making national and economic decisions. These actions give rise to several effects such as unemployment, effects which are not seen in the short run. Despite cries on the need for the participatory role in development policies whereby development initiatives are conceived with the involvement of the local populace, Cameroon still continues to conceive porous policies. Sometimes, the local communities do not make things easy. This accounts for the increasing poverty levels, poor entrepreneurial initiatives, poor social amenities, weak decentralisation policies, corruption as well as porous development initiatives. Such is the case with the recent decision by the Government delegate of the Douala City Council of Cameroon over the choice of the construction of a recreational park over a cement plant.

Complaints from Ngondo cultural officials in Douala, Cameroon have forced the Douala City Council to halt progress on the creation of a cement plant. The demand for cement in Cameroon has been on the rise with an annual increase of eight per cent. Cameroon imported at least 500,000 metric tonnes of cement in 2010, according to government data, which also proves that the yearly demand for cement is estimated at four million metric tonnes. Government has however been making efforts to increase national production from 1.6 million metric tonnes to about 2.2 million metric tonnes annually. But none of such efforts have met the soaring demand, creating an unavoidable need to encourage multinationals to start-up production in the country. Two companies from Korea and the Nigerian multinational, Dangote Group, signed investment agreements with the Cameroon government.

By September 2011, an agreement was signed between government and the Nigerian Dangote Group, authorising the latter to build a FCFA 55-billion cement plant in Douala with a capacity of one million metric tonnes of cement a year. Base Elf, the shorelines of River Wouri, was the chosen site for the construction of the cement plant. But work on the construction site was  interrupted, following an order from the Douala City Council (DCC), raising fears that the 18-month timeline may not be met.

DCC Government Delegate, Fritz Ntone Ntone, stopped work on the site to bring dissenting voices together, following complaints from Ngondo officials. He explained that part of the site allocated for the cement plant belongs to DCC and will be used for the construction of an Urban Park. Much of the site, he said, is by tradition land for Ngondo cultural celebrations. During the Ngondo General Assembly of Saturday March 10, 2012, Sawa Chiefs and elite resolved not to give up the place for whatsoever reason.

Some Cameroonians argue that setting up a cement plant close to the city centre would only increase pollution, which government is trying to curb. But staff of Dangote Industries Cameroon Ltd say they are shipping in ultramodern and pollution-free equipment. One of the staff members of Dangote Industries Cameroon Ltd, explained that their machines are environment-friendly.He added that, these machines can be set up even in the heart of the city, and no one would suffer from noise or smoke.

The 2,000-metre piece of land that lies close to the Douala Ports Authority complex and the Ngondo River Wouri banks cultural ground, was contracted from the government via a lease of 30 years, as explained by a company staff. On 13 March 2012, the company’s delegation from Nigeria told Cameroon Tribune in Douala that they were ready to renegotiate in order to continue the venture.

This indeed is a blow to economic development for Cameroon. Such a move especially by the Government delegate of the Douala City Council causes the great economist Frederic Bastiat, to turn in his grave. The Ngondo officials need to rethink their position of refuting to let out the piece of land for the cement plant, because a cement plant will help in employing their sons and daughters, who continue to languish in poverty. Besides the land is on lease and has not been sold to the investors. It is absurd for the government delegate to prefer an urban park to a cement plant, which would definitely employ Cameroonians, as well as foreigners, thereby increasing economic growth. The government of Cameroon needs to convince the Ngondo officials of the importance of such a plant for economic development. This is not to say an urban park is not also germane. There are many sites in the economic capital of Douala where an urban park can be constructed. It is time for government to be serious about economic development.

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

The Path to Freedom, by Professor George Ayittey, Oslo Freedom Forum, Norway, 2011


Fighting for freedom is a very daunting task. There are many people who have been arrested and jailed because of their very vocal and  bold actions against dictatorial regimes in power. Others have had to pay with their lives for being pro-democracy activists. Dictatorial regimes connote pro-democracy activists as promoters of division and state segregation.

Despite fears of imprisonment and death, from so called dictatorial regimes, pro-democracy activists like Professor George Ayittey are unstoppable. Feed your ears and your mind with the link below.

George Ayittey on the Path to Freedom

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

 


Originally posted on choforche:

The correct role of government in a free society is to create an environment where individuals and businesses can go about their lawful duties unimpeded most especially by exorbitant taxes, corruption and ‘bad governance’. Government has to put in place a legal framework which caters for the business concerns of entrepreneurs, especially female entrepreneurs. This may sound discriminatory, but the truth is that women are the most affected vulnerable group in most business milieus especially in Central Africa.

Central African governments seem much uninvolved in furnishing an adequate environment for female entrepreneurs to carry out businesses. No wonder only a small percentage of individual economic activities involving female entrepreneurs get to cross borders within the region, making a ridicule of the Central African trading zone which benefits very little from the eleven-member sub regional trading bloc, the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).

ECCAS is an Economic Community of…

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Posted by on April 9, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Enhancing a conducive legal environment for female entrepreneurs in the Economic Community of Central African States, Chofor Che, 6 April 2012


The correct role of government in a free society is to create an environment where individuals and businesses can go about their lawful duties unimpeded most especially by exorbitant taxes, corruption and ‘bad governance’. Government has to put in place a legal framework which caters for the business concerns of entrepreneurs, especially female entrepreneurs. This may sound discriminatory, but the truth is that women are the most affected vulnerable group in most business milieus especially in Central Africa.

Central African governments seem much uninvolved in furnishing an adequate environment for female entrepreneurs to carry out businesses. No wonder only a small percentage of individual economic activities involving female entrepreneurs get to cross borders within the region, making a ridicule of the Central African trading zone which benefits very little from the eleven-member sub regional trading bloc, the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).

ECCAS is an Economic Community of the African Union for the promotion of regional economic co-operation in Central Africa. Its primary objective is to achieve collective autonomy, maintain economic stability via harmonious cooperation and raise the standards of living of its populations. It has not been easy for ECCAS to meet these objectives, especially with growing poverty in member countries like Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon. Women in these countries happen to be those mostly affected by poverty which hinders their ability to participate and profit from business initiatives in the zone.

The taxation system in the ECCAS zone is at best prohibitive. Entrepreneurs, especially female entrepreneurs, still suffer from excessive taxes.  According to the World Bank’s Doing Business report of 2010, in Cameroon citizens have to part with 121% of their gross national income in order to begin a business. In Chad and Central Africa Republic respectively, citizens have to part with 176.1% and 244 % of their gross national income in order to begin a business. This scenario is also true with oil-rich Equatorial Guinea which charges 100.4% from ordinary citizens who wish to start a business. The picture for after profit tax is equally depressing; 60.1% for Chad, 59.5% for Equatorial Guinea, 203.5% for Central African Republic,  322% for the Democratic Republic of Congo and 50.5% for Cameroon. According to the 2012 Doing Business report of the World Bank, much has not changed.

The 2012 World Bank’s Doing Business report ranks Chad 183rd out of 183 countries, making Chad the most difficult place to do business in the world. Equatorial Guinea is ranked 155th, Gabon is ranked 156th, Cameroon is ranked 161th, Central African Republic is ranked 182nd, the Democratic Republic of Congo is ranked 178th.

However, ECCAS plans to live up to its mission; to create a good economic, social, political as well as a legal environment for her citizens. In May 2010, national leaders of ECCAS met in a bid to help clean the books of the Bank of Central African States (BEAC), which had been inundated by serious corruption. The managerial modus operandi of the bank was restructured, to tackle most especially corruption.

Cleaning up BEAC, when national banks within the ECCAS zone remain corrupt makes no sense. There is equally need for national banks within the ECCAS zone to be transparent in financial dealings.

Considering the fact that female entrepreneurs remain underprivileged when it comes to having access to loans to start businesses, it is necessary that financial institutions, including micro economic institutions, furnish women with loans to start off businesses in the ECCAS zone.  Women in the ECCAS zone do have a business potentials, which remain underexploited.

Curbing exorbitant taxes can also spur female entrepreneurs to start up business in the ECCAS zone. A major reason why most female entrepreneurs are not encouraged to do business in the ECCAS zone is because of the exorbitant taxes.

Additionally, according to the 2012 Doing Business report, some research suggests that business regulation reforms have greater impact if combined with effective regulation in other areas. For instance, when India dismantled a strict licensing regime controlling business entry and production, the benefits were greater in states that had more flexible labour regulations. These states witnessed real output gains 17.8% larger than those in other states.

Still according to the 2012 Doing Business report, researchers in Mexico found out that a municipal license reform across states boasted new firm registrations by 5% and employment by 2.2%. The effect was greater in states with less corruption and better governance.

If ECCAS member countries are really concerned about economic growth in the zone, then the above suggestions need to be taken into consideration by respective member countries. If the ECCAS zone wants to ensure that the Millennium Development Goals are attained in the zone, then creating legal avenues for female entrepreneurs to do business is the way to go. Eradicating corruption and instilling measures for better governance can be a contributing factor for female entrepreneurs to flock the markets of the ECCAS zone and contribute to economic development of the continent of Africa.

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

 
 
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