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About choforche

Chofor Che is a Cameroonian lawyer and public administrator interested in multi-level governance, federalism and decentralisation. He has a passion for free-markets and human rights and is associate for Africanliberty.org, an Atlas Foundation engineered libertarian project based in Ghana. Currently he is on study leave as a Ford Foundation Doctoral Candidate at the Community Law Centre, Faculty of Law, University of the Western Cape. He also finds time to consult on a pro bono basis for Frank's International Cameroon, an oil drilling subsidiary. He also consults on a pro bono basis for law firms like the Atanga Law Office, Douala, Cameroon.

Lessons from the 2014 joint UN/AU Economic Report on Africa – By Chofor Che, published at AfricalLiberty.org, 23 July 2014


The 2014 Economic Report on Africa (the 2014 Report) was launched in Yaoundé on the 17 July 2014 under the patronage of Cameroon’s Minister of the Economy, Planning and Regional Development. Present at this launch were top ranking civil servants, economists, private sector actors, academics and members of the international community interested in investing in Africa in general and in Cameroon in particular. The report, published by the African Union Commission (AUC) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) focuses on various case studies of states across the African continent, especially Africa’s failure to become adequately industrialized.

The 2014 Report is entitled ‘Dynamic Industrial Policy in Africa: Innovative Institutions, Effective Processes and Flexible Mechanisms.’ According to ECA, the title is a rational addition of the ideas propounded in past editions especially that of 2011 on the part the state has to play in economic transformation. The 2014 Report also pivots on the 2013 Report which focuses on linking Africa’s vast raw materials with industrialization.

According to the 2014 Report, poor industrialization in Africa is due to the fact that African states tend to blindly copy industrialization policies from other states especially states in the West. Other factors which have contributed to Africa’s erroneous industrialization image include a lack of collaboration with other actors especially the private sector and academia.

Apart from exposing Africa’s porous industrialization policies, the 2014 Report paints a positive image of other states in the South like Rwanda, South Africa and Nigeria that have made great strides towards industrialization. The 2014 Report also proposes institutional measures for adequate industrial policies in Africa especially the Central African region, which remains the least industrialized region on the continent. It calls on African states, taking into cognizance limited resources, to invest in adequate infrastructure that would accommodate serious demands of growing industrial sectors.

There is no gainsaying that Africa is in need of policies which reflect the local realities. Governments of States especially in the Central African region have vehemently refused to put in place industrialization policies which promote free markets. Countries like Cameroon, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo Brazzaville and Gabon continue to export raw materials which could easily be processed at home if these countries were adequately industrialized. The private sector in these states also remains underdeveloped, especially as available human resources remains inadequately trained. Heavy taxes also cripple industrial start ups especially in the Central African region. There are several Africans who have returned home in a bid to start up industries, but the porous industrial policies in place would not allow them flourish.

To make sure that growth is both beneficial and long lasting to all strata on the continent of Africa, states, especially states in the Central African region; need to put in place industrial policies that fit their own local contexts as suggested in the 2014 Report. State Constitutions need to put in place a firm legal foundation upon which adequate industrialization can grow. The constitutional basis for true industrialization then needs to be backed up with legislation grown from consultations with legislators, academics, senior civil servants and members of civil society. Apart from legal instruments, there is also a need for firm administrative and judicial institutions to have clearly defined mandates of formulating and pushing through such policies especially policies which promote free markets. It does not suffice to just have legal instruments and institutions in place. Those who are called upon to follow up on industrialization policies in Africa must be adequately trained with state of the art skills.

A canker worm eating into the fabric of the already poor industrialization image in Africa is corruption. African States need to work extra hard to stamp out corruption especially with respect to industrialization.

If such measures are put in place by state actors in collaboration with the private sector, then Africa may boast of adequate industrialization by 2065. If not, then reports such as the 2014 Report may remain a waste of time and tax payers’ money.
- See more at: http://www.africanliberty.org/content/lessons-2014-joint-unau-economic-report-africa-chofor-che#sthash.WGdIEogP.dpuf

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2014 in Africa Development

 

Aid to Africa: donations from west mask ‘$60bn looting’ of continent, Mark Anderson, theguardian.com, Tuesday 15 July 2014 11.57 BST


UK and wealthy states revel in their generosity while allowing their companies to plunder Africa’s resources, say NGOs.

Western countries are using aid to Africa as a smokescreen to hide the “sustained looting” of the continent as it loses nearly $60bn a year through tax evasion, climate change mitigation, and the flight of profits earned by foreign multinational companies, a group of NGOs has claimed.

Although sub-Saharan Africa receives $134bn each year in loans, foreign investment and development aid, research released on Tuesday by a group of UK and Africa-based NGOs suggests that $192bn leaves the region, leaving a $58bn shortfall.

The report says that while western countries send about $30bn in development aid to Africa every year, more than six times that amount leaves the continent, “mainly to the same countries providing that aid”.

The perception that such aid is helping African countries “has facilitated a perverse reality in which the UK and other wealthy governments celebrate their generosity whilst simultaneously assisting their companies to drain Africa’s resources”, the report claims. It points out that foreign multinational companies siphon $46bn out of sub-Saharan Africa each year, while $35bn is moved from Africa into tax havens around the world annually.

The study, which also notes that African governments spend $21bn a year on debt repayments, calls for the aid system to be overhauled and made more open.

It says aid sent in the form of loans serves only to contribute to the continent’s debt crisis, and recommends that donors should use transparent contracts to ensure development assistance grants can be properly scrutinised by the recipient country’s parliament.

“The common understanding is that the UK ‘helps’ Africa through aid, but in reality this serves as a smokescreen for the billions taken out,” said Martin Drewry, director of Health Poverty Action, one of the NGOs behind the report. “Let’s use more accurate language. It’s sustained looting – the opposite of generous giving – and we should recognise that the City of London is at the heart of the global financial system that facilitates this.”

Research by Global Financial Integrity shows Africa’s illicit outflows were nearly 50% higher than the average for the global south from 2002-11. The UK-based NGO ActionAid issued a report last year (pdf) that claimed half of large corporate investment in the global south transited through a tax haven.

Supporting regulatory reforms would empower African governments “to control the operations of investing foreign companies”, the report says, adding: “Countries must support efforts under way in the United Nations to draw up a binding international agreement on transnational corporations to protect human rights.”

But NGOs must also change, according to Drewry: “We need to move beyond our focus on aid levels and communicate the bigger truth – exposing the real relationship between rich and poor, and holding leaders to account.”

The report was authored by 13 UK and Africa-based NGOs, including: Health Poverty Action, Jubilee Debt Campaign, World Development Movement, African Forum and Network on Debt and Development, Friends of the Earth Africa, Tax Justice Network, People’s Health Movement Kenya, Zimbabwe and UK, War on Want, Community Working Group on Health Zimbabwe, Medact, Healthworkers4All, Friends of the Earth South Africa, JA!Justiça Ambiental/Friends of the Earth Mozambique.

Sarah-Jayne Clifton, director of Jubilee Debt Campaign, said: “Tackling inequality between Africa and the rest of the world means tackling the root causes of its debt dependency, its loss of government revenue by tax dodging, and the other ways the continent is being plundered. Here in the UK we can start with our role as a major global financial centre and network of tax havens, complicit in siphoning money out of Africa.”

A UK government spokesman said: “The UK put tax and transparency at the heart of our G8 presidency last year and we are actively working with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to ensure companies are paying the tax they should and helping developing countries collect the tax they are owed.”

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2014 in Africa Development

 

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Cameroon’s admittance to the status of a mixed financing nation by the African Development Bank is a bad omen to development, by Chofor Che


On the 9th of July 2014, an op-ed was published by Business in Cameroon revealing that Cameroon has been admitted to the status of a mixed financing nation by the African Development Bank (ADB). This position was corroborated by Cameroon’s Minister of Economy, Emmanuel Nganou Djoumessi. According to Business in Cameroon, this status allows Cameroon to continue to get loans at concessional rates from the African Development Fund (ADF), a subsidiary of the ADB. Cameroon can also have direct access to the national branch of this regional institution.

“The designation of this status by the ADB group shows that it recognises the efforts made by the country,” added Racine Kane, the ADB resident representative to Cameroon. “The ADB has allowed us to access the mixed financing regime. This was not done at our request. It was done in light of the strong assessment the ADB evaluators have done on our economy. This assessment established the soundness of our macro-economic criteria. It demonstrated that we have a low level of indebtedness and we are harnessing our resources. Consequently, we are a country with an emerging economy,” Minister Nganou Djoumessi added.

The ADB has dished out over 99 billion Fcfa to Cameroon to finance 91 projects, since 1972. The Minister of Economy confirmed that the ADB has loaned Cameroon over 255 billion Fcfa, for the month of July 2014 alone.

It is indeed, a shame to know that the government of Cameroon is happy with such a status. This is indeed a bad omen to development especially for a country which has decided to depend on loans from international financial institutions like the ADB. Of the 21 projects currently being financed in Cameroon by the ADB, just 23% are within the private sector. Many continue to argue that the private sector in Cameroon is weak. The truth is that government has not made adequate efforts to make the private sector in Cameroon an equal partner in development. Experience has also shown that financing which has been engineered by the government sector has been siphoned by corrupt government officials and most of this money starched illegally in foreign bank accounts.

Embracing the status of a mixed financing nation by the ADB will only make Cameroon poorer and underdeveloped. Rather than embracing such a status, policy actors tasked with reshaping Cameroon’s economy need to reflect more towards a free market economy rather than an economy that depends on loans from international financial institutions like the ADB. There is no gain saying that since 1972, after having received so much money from the ADB, the country has nothing to write home about. Infrastructure remains deplorable while youth unemployment is alarming. Cameroon needs to beef up the private sector. Taxes need to be reduced and more jobs in the private sector created. The educational system in the country has to also be revisited so as enable graduates to be ‘job creators’ rather than ‘job searchers’. These are some measures which if the government of Cameroon gives some attention to, then there will be no need to be contended about being a mixed financing nation of the ADB.

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2014 in Africa Development

 

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The 23rd Ordinary Summit of Heads of States and Governments of the African Union and African Monetary Fund exaggerated ambition, by Chofor Che, 7 July 2014


The 23rd Ordinary Summit of Heads of States and Governments of the African Union (AU) ended on Friday the 28th of June 2014 after two days of discussions in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. In attendance were the Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), Ban Ki-moon, the Prime Minister of Spain, Mariano Rajoy and the Vice President of Cuba, Salvador Valdes Mesa.

The official theme of this summit was “Agriculture and Food Security in Africa”, but according to Alfredo Tjiurimo Hengari, a Senior Research Fellow at the South African Institute of International Affairs in an op-ed dated the 26 of June 2014, few if any of the decisions during the summit focused on farming or food. He added that this is evidence that summit themes are merely symbolic and are hardly followed by intensive discussions around the subject matter. This notwithstanding, certain sources argue that the 23rd Summit is historic because at the end of deliberations, though much did not focus on farming and food, a gigantic step was made towards the financial autonomy of Africa as a continent with the adoption of the Establishing Protocol and Statutes of the African Monetary Fund (AMF) one of the AU’s Financial institutions.

Founded in 2009, the AMF has as aim to contribute to the economic stability and the management of financial crisis in Africa, giving preference to macroeconomic development and business by promoting trade amongst states in Africa. It is expected to create a common market amongst African states by 2017. Having its sit based in Yaoundé, the political capital of Cameroon, this institution is supposed to forge for a single African currency in a bid to encourage rapid regional economic integration which for the moment remains a dilemma especially with the numerous currencies on the continent. Some analysts even argue that the multitude of currencies on the continent has grossly weakened business between African states.

The putting in place of the Establishing Protocol and Statutes of the AMF arrived at in Malabo on Friday the 28th of June 2014, does not in any way mean that the African continent will suddenly become financially independent. 15 African states need to ratify the statues for the institution to go operational. An organigram for the institution needs to be set up before the recruitment of staff including a Director General.

This is indeed an ambitious agenda my Heads of State who have decided to put the cart before the horse. Many African states are still plagued by precarious financial hurdles such as heavy taxes, trade barriers and corruption. In addition to these hurdles, the Central African Republic remains mired in armed and bloody conflict, Nigeria remains tortured by the activities of the notorious Boko Haram Sect and Kenya is still seeking solutions to the Al Shabab dilemma.

In addition to the various hurdles faced by various states on the continent, Africa is still not a force to reckon with in the United Nations (UN) Security Council. Hengari in his op-ed argues that in light of a meeting which took place in May 2014, UN Security Council reform agenda in the AU remains stalled due to the rigid proposals which propped up from the Ezulwini Consensus. Hengari argues further that concerning the current institutional setup, the AU remains state-centric. While the AU accepts regional economic communities as vital building blocks in regional integration, there is no serious formal institutional rendez-vous with the assembly or the commission.

It is high time for states to resolve domestic issues like barriers to trade, over taxation and corruption. African states need to open up their boarders for trade and not close up boarders under the pretext of fighting illegal immigration just as what has been transpiring between Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon and Gabon.

It is germane for Heads of State to try and resolve the ongoing conflicts on the continent including terrorists’ attacks from groups like Boko Haram and Al Shabab. It is important for the AU to equally engage heads of communities and officials within the frame work of the commission and assembly, especially in conflict resolution and regional integration.

Considering these suggestions is germane for the AU. If such proposals are not taken seriously then the AMF dream may be another waste of time and Africa’s tax payers’ money.

 

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“Equatorial Guinea Oil & Gas Report Q3 2014″ Now Available at Fast Market Research, By Digital Journal


Recently published research from Business Monitor International, “Equatorial Guinea Oil & Gas Report Q3 2014″, is now available at Fast Market Research

Boston, MA — (SBWIRE) — 06/03/2014 — BMI View: Although the start of a number of small fields and continued interest in West Africa’s deepwater are positive trends for Equatorial Guinea’s oil and gas se ctor, t he temporary recovery in oil production will g i ve way to gradual downtrend, placing the country’s heavily oil – dependent economy at risk. While new discoveries could support an expansion of the country’s LNG export capacity, uncertainty over the market and infrastructure has rendered investment decisions repeatedly delayed. Notwithstanding the possibility of new discoveries, we expect oil production to gradually head lower over the course of the decade.

View Full Report Details and Table of Contents

The key trends and developments in Equatorial Guinea’s oil and gas sector are:

- Since having peaked in 2005 at 375,477 barrels per day (b/d), oil production in Equatorial Guinea has failed to demonstrate strong enough recovery to permanently return to growth. While output fell to 297,000b/d in 2013, volumes have since managed notable gains on the back of the start of smaller fields offshore. We estimate production averaged 346,000b/d for 2013 and will continue to make incremental gains before peaking at 375,000b/d in 2015.
- The start of new fields like Carla and later Alen will deliver gains over the course of our forecast period, but in our view are not enough to sustain the recovery in production over the longer term. While we see some upside from prospects under appraisal, such as Noble Energy’s Diega and potential liquids from Ophir Energy’s gas-rich Block R, we do not believe development of these prospects alone will be able to offset falling volumes from currently producing fields. Beyond 2017, we anticipate a steady decline in production unless further investment is made in exploration and production (E&P) with new discoveries being brought online.
- Equatorial Guinea recently announced the awarding of a number of onshore and offshore blocks to small and mid-sized players. Traditional international oil companies (IOCs)…

The Equatorial Guinea Oil & Gas Report has been researched at source and features Business Monitor International (BMI)’s independent forecasts for Equatorial Guinea including major indicators for oil, gas and LNG, covering all major indicators including reserves, production, consumption, refining capacity, prices, export volumes and values. The report includes full analysis of industry trends and prospects, national and multinational companies and changes in the regulatory environment.

BMI’s Equatorial Guinea Oil & Gas Report provides professionals, consultancies, government departments, regulatory bodies and researchers with independent forecasts and competitive intelligence on the Equatoguinean oil and gas industry.

About Fast Market Research
Fast Market Research is a leading distributor of market research and business information. Representing the world’s top research publishers and analysts, we provide quick and easy access to the best competitive intelligence available. Our unbiased, expert staff is always available to help you find the right research to fit your requirements and your budget. For more information about these or related research reports, please visit our website at http://www.fastmr.com or call us at 1.800.844.8156.

Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/1960568#ixzz34E3yOS9t

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2014 in Africa Development

 

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US$200 million 100 MW PV development for Cameroon, Posted by: ESI Africa, June 10, 2014


Joule Africa, the international energy developer behind Cameroon’s proposed 607 MW Kpep hydroelectric project, has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the government of Cameroon to develop 100 MW of new solar photovoltaic (PV) facilities. The MoU was signed at the first ever UK-Cameroon Trade and Investment Forum, held 7 – 9 May in London and led by prime minister Philemon Yang.

Joule Africa and Bethel Industrievertretung (BIIL), its local partner on this and the Kpep hydroelectric project, will now work together with the government of Cameroon to identify up to five sites that are suitable to host the new facilities. These are likely to be in the north of the country, where solar irradiance levels are higher.

The solar project will bring further capital investment of around US$200 million to Cameroon’s energy sector, increase current generating capacity by approximately 15 per cent and underscore the country’s commitment to renewable energy sources as a key component in its energy mix. The new facilities will be built in phases, with first commissioning scheduled to occur as early as 2015 and full commercial operation during 2017.

Mark Green, president of Joule Africa, says, “These solar PV facilities, which will ultimately sit alongside the Kpep hydroelectric project, represent an opportunity to deliver renewable generating capacity within a relatively short timeframe. The next few months will be devoted to site selection, after which we will conduct detailed feasibility studies, with the phased construction process due to begin during the first half of 2015.”

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2014 in Africa Development

 

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Africa’s Largest Self-Sufficient Solar Microgrid Project Created through Technologies from MAECI, GE and Princeton Power Systems, By SCHENECTADY, N.Y.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–June 04, 2014


The government of Equatorial Guinea has selected MAECI Solar, a division of Management and Economic Consulting, Inc., in collaboration with GE Power & Water (NYSE:GE) and Princeton Power Systems, Inc., to install a 5-megawatt (MW) solar microgrid system on Annobon Province, an island off Equatorial Guinea in west central Africa. The solar microgrid will feature 5-MW solar modules and system integration by MAECI, an energy management system and controls from Princeton Power Systems and energy storage from GE. The island-wide microgrid will provide reliable, predictable power, supply enough electricity to handle 100 percent of the island’s current energy demand and be the largest self-sufficient solar project on the continent of Africa.

“MAECI is fortunate to have witnessed firsthand the development of Equatorial Guinea over the past few years,” said Chris Massaro, senior vice president, MAECI. “We are extremely excited to bring this solar microgrid solution to Annobon Island as well as support President Obiang Nguema’s vision to raise the quality of life for the people and bring economic diversification to Equatorial Guinea. This project brings both. The Annobon Electrification Project will be the platform for economic growth on the island by bringing a much needed power supply that will enable the development of multiple industries, add 700 to 1,000 direct and indirect jobs to Annobon Island and significantly raise the standard of living.”

Annobon Province has a population of approximately 5,000 residents. Today, the residents have reliable electricity for up to five hours per day and spend an average of 15-20 percent of their income on supplemental power. The solar microgrid in development will eliminate this expense entirely and provide reliable electricity 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The project is a part of Equatorial Guinea’s National Economic Development Plan Horizon 2020, which aims to make Equatorial Guinea an “emerging economy” and accelerate its development and democratization by 2020.

“We’re excited to be a part of this historic project for Annobon Province and Equatorial Guinea,” said Jeff Wyatt, general manager of GE’s solar and energy storage business. “GE’s energy storage technology will help enable reliable, predictable power for the residents of Annobon through balancing the real-time supply and demand of solar and withstanding extreme heat environments without the need for air conditioning. This is an ideal technology for microgrids like Annobon Island.”

The Annobon microgrid is enabled by the Princeton Power Systems’ BIGI-250 energy management platform, the world’s first three-port industrial-scale solar energy management system, with UL listing and thousands of operating hours in commercial applications since 2012. Princeton Power Systems has extensive prior experience working with GE’s energy storage team. GE’s batteries, in addition to providing superior high temperature performance and improved safety, offer environmental responsibility with non-toxic and recyclable materials and worldwide support.

“Today, over 1 billion people are without power. We are taking our experience in microgrids from Alcatraz Island, the U.S. Department of Defense and private sector customers to now apply it to improving quality of life for people in rural areas where grid power does not exist or is not reliable,” said Ken McCauley, president and CEO, Princeton Power Systems. “We look forward to future global projects across the world to provide power to these areas to have hospitals, lighting and other basic human needs.”

About Princeton Power Systems

Princeton Power Systems, based in New Jersey and founded in 2001, designs and manufactures state-of-the-art technology solutions for energy management, microgrid operations and electric vehicle charging. The company is a global leader working with customers and partners across North America, Europe, Africa and the Caribbean. It manufactures UL and CE-certified power electronics that are used in advanced battery operations and alternative energy, with built-in smart functions for ancillary services. The company solves power issues to allow continued growth of distributed renewable energy by providing energy storage solutions that are proven to work, even in harsh environments. Princeton Power Systems builds integrated systems and designs, commissions and operates microgrids for leading organizations, including Fortune 500 automakers and industrials and non-profit organizations. The company proudly manufactures its products in the United States. More information about Princeton Power Systems is available at http://www.princetonpower.com.

About MAECI

MAECI is an international consulting and project implementation firm that has formed very successful project partnerships, both as lead firm and as sub-consultant, with government ministries and departments, universities and colleges, non-governmental organizations and private sector companies more specifically in developing and emerging countries with strong emphasis in Western Central Africa and completed projects totaling in excess of $1 billion.

About GE

GE (NYSE:GE) works on things that matter. The best people and the best technologies taking on the toughest challenges. Finding solutions in energy, health and home, transportation and finance. Building, powering, moving and curing the world. Not just imagining. Doing. GE works. For more information, visit the company’s website at http://www.ge.com.

About GE Power & Water

GE Power & Water provides customers with a broad array of power generation, energy delivery and water process technologies to solve their challenges locally. Power & Water works in all areas of the energy industry including renewable resources such as wind and solar; biogas and alternative fuels; and coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear energy. The business also develops advanced technologies to help solve the world’s most complex challenges related to water availability and quality. Power & Water’s six business units include Distributed Power, Nuclear Energy, Power Generation Products, Power Generation Services, Renewable Energy and Water & Process Technologies. Headquartered in Schenectady, N.Y., Power & Water is GE’s largest industrial business.

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Will the Central African bloc grow by up to 5.5 percent in 2014 as predicted by the International Monetary Fund? By Chofor Che, 7 June 2014


On the 5 of June 2014, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted that economic growth in the six-nation Central African CEMAC bloc is set to double to between 5 and 5.5 percent in 2014. According to an article by Reuters dated the 6 of June 2014, this growth is supposed to be pivoted on the back of increased oil production.
The CEMAC zone is composed of Central African Republic, Gabon, Cameroon, Chad, Congo-Brazzaville and Equatorial Guinea. Reuters reports that five of these states produce oil, which accounts for 36 percent of the region’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 87 percent of total exports. Growth reduced to around 2.5 percent in 2013 because of a substantial drop in oil output. The CEMAC zone’s central bank forecast 2014 GDP growth at 6.7 percent in March.
In an IMF statement at the end of a two-week evaluation mission, the team said “The outlook for the remainder of 2014 points to a pick-up in economic growth. Regional real GDP growth is projected at 5 to 5.5 percent, as oil production will increase. The team added that inflation is expected to remain below 3 percent.

The medium-term outlook seemed solid because of strong growth in non-oil sectors, but a projected decline in oil production was expected to bring overall growth down, observed Reuters. It is sad how states in the CEMAC zone depend on oil production to boast their GDP whereas there are sectors which can fire GDP up if harnessed such as the agricultural sector which remains under-exploited. The IMF confirmed that the deteriorating security situation due to conflict in Central African Republic and attacks by the Boko Haram Islamist group in Nigeria could also cut into growth.

The Central African region especially the CEMAC zone needs to get serious about other sectors of the economy rather than just relying on oil production. This zone has great potential in revamping the agricultural sector but has instead open room for land grabbing. Instead of ensuring that the populace in this zone benefits from vast arable farm land, governments in the CEMAC zone are giving away the land while their people languish in poverty.
Countries in the CEMAC zone still have a long way to go with respect to South-South cooperation. Rather than depending heavily on oil production to attain a 5.5 percent growth, which is not so evident, this zone needs to encourage trade amongst states in the zone and beyond. In recent weeks there have been tensions along the Gabonese and Cameroonian boarders. Both countries have accused each other of illegal poaching and trade which have led to arrests and repatriation of citizens from both states. There is need to encourage free trade among members states of this zone. Tensions amongst member states, such as that between Gabon and Cameroon will instead shrink growth in 2014 instead of boasting it.

Corruption also remains a serious reason why I remain pessimistic about the IMF’s predicted 5.5 percent growth in 2014. A recap on the Doing Business Report of 2013 and 2014 shows that states in the CEMAC zone are tailing the list when it comes to doing business. For instance, according to the AtlasFreeTrade.org initiative, Cameroon’s trade freedom ranks 128 out of 158 states and both the cost of doing business and tariffs remain extremely high. This picture mirrors itself with other states in the zone.

There is indeed high potential for states in the CEMAC zone to attain the 5.5 percent growth as predicted by the IMF. The zone is not only blessed with oil production, but has other sectors which need to be exploited. If the CEMAC zone is really serious about attaining the predicted 5.5 percent growth and more, then it is time for a policy rethink and shift. Government leaders need to also concentrate more in encouraging trade between member states as well as revamping their various agricultural systems. Government leaders need to be serious about true privatization and free trade. There is also need for the corruption canker worm to be curbed. Only such measures may project the CEMAC zone to the 5.5 percent target .

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2014 in Africa Development

 

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Central African Republic Bans SMS Services, By Edwin Kee, on 06/05/2014


Those who happen to live in the Central African Republic have not exactly gone through a bed of roses over the years, ever since the country gained its independence in 1960. Of course, there are the relevant growing pains of a nation which are to be expected, and with that, the advent of technology in the landlocked region cannot be avoided. However, it seems that the government has issued a forced shut down of text messaging services throughout the Central African Republic after fears of potential violent demonstrations reared its ugly head, with SMS being used as the vehicle of choice to carry out those plans.

All four mobile network carriers have been issued an order to make sure that SMS will no longer work in the country, as that is the vehicle of choice that organizers used to carry out work strikes as part of the coordinated activities to protest against violent responses by the government. So far, thousands of people have lost their lives, while a whole lot more (numbering in the millions) have been displaced ever since a coup overthrew the government with ethnic-religious tensions rising.

Anyone who tries to send a text message would be on the receiving end of a message themselves, touting that “SMS not allowed.” We do wonder whether the use of a data plan might work out here with programs like WhatsApp and Viber offering an alternative.

This article was filed in Homepage > Cellphones and was tagged with sms and text message. The story was spotted on digitaltrends

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2014 in Africa Development

 

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Pessimism still surrounds the ‘Visa free travel in Africa’ initiative, by Chofor Che, 03 June 2014


Africans especially in the Central African region have always wished to travel visa free. Many argue that if this were possible, it would be a speedy panacea to regional integration. How possible and true is this assertion? I wonder.

The ‘Visa free travel Africa’ initiative was launched by Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank (ADB), Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya and Nigerian businessman Aliko Dangote, during the World Economic Forum on Africa. According to an article by Biztechafrica of May 2014, the idea behind this initiative is to encourage travel across the continent by curbing on visa constraints.

The ADB’s Chief Executive remains optimistic about this initiative. According to him, the ‘Visa free travel Africa’ initiative will spearhead regional integration across Africa and speed up Africa’s economic development. Kaberuka however opines that African leaders need to take action to make this happen.

There have equally been panel discussions all over the continent to engineer the ‘Visa free travel in Africa’ initiative. During one of such panel discussions in Nigeria, the ADB’s Chief Economist, Mthuli Ncube, encouraged Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa to harness their developmental drive and make speedy growth on the continent a reality especially by ensuring that Africans are able to travel without visa constraints. According to Biztechafrica, this call was made during a panel discussion on ‘Forging Inclusive growth, Creating Jobs’. Ncube’s topic was on, ‘Driving Competitiveness through Cooperation, integration and Economic growth’.

The ‘Visa free travel Africa’ initiative is a very laudable idea but the continent still faces a lot of challenges especially governance issues. Lack of political will on the part of African leaders remains a gigantic hurdle. This explains why such an initiative is spearheaded by just two African leaders instead by all African leaders. In addition to this, continental bodies like the African Union have not strongly added their voice to the ‘Visa free travel Africa’ initiative. A scenario such as this makes one to wonder if this is not just brutum fulmen (an empty noise) on the part of Kaberuka, Kagame, Kenyatta and Dangote.

In as much as the ‘Visa free travel Africa’ initiative is a laudable one, African leaders are still to curb internal barriers in their various states especially barriers to trade and development. If circulating in various African states remain a nightmare, what more of travelling on the continent. Most states especially states in the Central African region cannot even boast of domestic air travel facilities especially infrastructure. Most of the personnel in African states are not trained with state of the art air travel measures especially ways of combating against terrorist activities. Citizens still have to pay exorbitant air port taxes despite having paid heavy visa fees and purchased expensive air tickets. Such impediments affect the ‘Visa free travel Africa’ initiative’ from transgressing from an ‘initiative stage’ to a ‘reality stage’.

It is thus important for African leaders to bring on board more private actors. True privatisation of the airport sector with minimal control from big governments on the continent can make the ‘Visa free travel Africa’ initiative a reality and thus speed up Africa’s development. African leaders need to curb internal barriers such as heavy taxes in their various states especially barriers to trade and development. Circulating in various African states should not be a nightmare. Most states especially states in the Central African region need to start rethinking their modus operandi on domestic air travel facilities especially infrastructure. Most airports in states especially in Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad and the conflict ridden Central African Republic have been abandoned. It is time for most African states to revamp structures in these airports and begin with boasting domestic air travel before thinking of adding their voice to the ‘Visa free travel Africa’ initiative. Most of the personnel in African states need to be trained with state of the art air travel measures especially ways of combating against terrorist activities. Governments in African states need to also ensure that citizens do not have to pay exorbitant air port taxes especially having paid heavy visa fees and purchased expensive air tickets. If such measures are taken into consideration especially partnering with the private sector, then attaining the ‘Visa free travel Africa’ initiative’ would be possible.

 
 

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