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2015 in review


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,000 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 33 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

From champ to wimp : Nigeria’s power in Africa seems in decline, but perhaps we’re missing the big picture, 21 December 2015, Japheth Omojuwa


NIGERIA’S Boko Haram Islamist militants have stepped up suicide attacks as the military intensified its offensive to meet a December-end deadline by President Muhammadu Buhari to end the six-year insurgency.
The deadline is set to expire without Boko Haram being eliminated. One of many acknowledgements that the fight against the militants will be on for a while longer, was the announcement Monday plans to increase the number of its troops backing Nigeria’s fight against Boko Haram to more than 300 next year.

In addition, the fact that the once mighty Nigerian military this year often put Boko Haram on the run due to the critical military support by smaller and poorer neighbours, has spurred commentators to argue that Africa’s biggest economy is, at base, a regional power in decline. A champion with its best years behind it.

On the surface, it looks so, but the reality is more complicated.

This year a sitting Nigerian president was beaten at the ballot by a three-time election loser; the incumbent, Goodluck Jonathan didn’t cry, throw a tantrum or call in the generals – he conceded defeat generously and congratulated the winner, Muhammadu Buhari.

Moment of democratic deepening
In a continent where the power-clutching antics of leaders are better known than their honourable exits, it was a valuable moment of democratic deepening in the country.

It also spoke to a possible return of Nigeria offering leadership in the continent, on the back of what had been a good run of booming economic growth.

In 2014, after a rebasing exercise, Nigeria knocked off South Africa from its perch as Africa’s biggest economy, and counted its GDP at $521 billion. The same year, however, the giant of Africa was plagued by terrorism and internal strife with Boko Haram insurgency in the north, and had to suffer the embarrassment of being bailed out militarily by the armies of much smaller countries in the region, including Chad and Cameroon.

Historically, Nigeria has always been a useful force for progress and development on the continent. From the country’s role in the liberation movement across the continent, to spearheading peacekeeping missions in West Africa in the 1990s, Nigeria’s foreign policy might has never been in question.

Big African causes
That’s until recently, when it has taken a relatively more subdued tone on the geopolitical stage, a far cry from the days of the feisty Olusegun Obasanjo’s term as civilian president in the early 2000s, when Obasanjo – and Nigeria – were excellent at championing the great African causes of the day.
What is the place of Nigeria in Africa today? How does this once aggressive African superpower fit into the current power dynamics on the continent? Is Nigeria on a retreat ironically at a time when it has just become the continent’s big economic kahuna?

Njoya Tikum, who works with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as regional policy and programme advisor on anti-corruption and economic governance, doesn’t think so.

“Nigeria hasn’t become soft,” said Tikum in an interview with Mail & Guardian Africa. “Not under the current peace and security architecture of Africa. They are becoming shrewd. We used to criticise them as the continent’s bully but Nigeria has now started to use soft politics without annoying its neighbours.

“On the Security Council for instance, the consensus is that Nigeria should take Africa’s place because of its long history in terms of ensuring peace and security in Africa.” Nigeria has only gone back to rework its tools of influence, Tikum said. “Internal exigencies have caught up with Nigeria. Creating opportunities internally will only make the country more powerful. Nigeria is acting like [President Barack] Obama’s America. There is an inward growth perspective, which doesn’t mean they have given up [on external engagements].”

Tikum’s sentiments found some resonance with that of South Africa’s Tessa Dooms who is a National Planning Commissioner and Director with South African think-tank, Youth Lab.
“You can never accuse Nigeria of cowardice. Just because they are not as cut-throat does not mean they have backed off.”

Another version
Nigeria is simply fitting into Africa’s contemporary realities, Dooms argued. “Africa has new issues. Countries used to be mostly dealing with their issues by themselves, now there is a sense of collective responsibility. We now have regional blocs with leaders and Nigeria and South Africa are respectively leaders in their blocs.”

Nigeria may be looking inwards, but this may not necessarily be to the detriment of its continental influence. “There is an opportunity in offering leadership by example. If Nigeria solves its energy and unemployment issues for instance, it then becomes a model on how you get things right. That certainly is another version of political clout,” said Doom.

Still, former president Goodluck Jonathan also deserves some praise, according to Chofor Che, an analyst at LibreAfrique.org and Audace Institut Afrique, and co-founder and chair of the Central African Centre for Libertarian Thought and Action (CACLiTA). “I think that we should give some credit to Jonathan because it is under his regime that Nigeria beat South Africa to become number one economy in Africa. Under Jonathan we saw more investment opportunities created.
“Many thought that Jonathan did not do much to contain the Boko Haram crisis, but I think tackling Boko Haram needs a regional strategy with assistance from the international community. It is difficult for a single state to combat such a menace.”

But Chofor took a different position on the role of Nigeria on the continent. “I do think Nigeria became soft politically under Jonathan, and Buhari with his military background is struggling to reinstate that position.”

For his part, Nigerian blogger, Abubakar Usman believes Nigeria certainly retreated. “Even as Nigeria became Africa’s biggest economy, we saw a kind of retreat because while the growth figures were good, the successes recorded were largely uncoordinated,” he said.
While not believing wealth has fundamentally softened Nigeria’s political power in Africa, he believes it was more a lack of will to use those powers.
“Nigeria’s prosperity has not made it politically soft, we only had a leader in Goodluck Jonathan who lacked the political will to use its riches to better the lives of the people.” Boko Haram indeed sapped the confidence of the nation, said Usman, but with a new government, the confidence is being restored.
Nigeria is still viewed as a force of stability and leadership in the region, “but [ the perception] is not as strong as it was some years back,” he conceded.

Cultural leadership
But there is a form of Nigerian power Africa cannot afford to ignore, said Tikum, quoted earlier. Nigeria is leading the socio-cultural charge and offering entrepreneurial leadership on the continent.
“The first thing that comes to your mind with respect to music and movies on the continent is Nigeria. People tend to forget about these aspects. It is a soft form of leadership but it is a critical one,” said Tikum.

On the contemporary tech battle between Nigeria and Kenya, Tikum believes that Kenya is perceived as doing better because Kenya has had to focus on external markets while Nigeria can afford to focus inwards because it has a huge internal market.

“What goes on in Lagos in a day happens in Kenya in two weeks!” said Tikum.
What has Nigeria been busy with lately on the continent? Along with South Africa, it is involved with keeping peace in the Central African Republic.

The coup plotters in Burkina Faso ignored direction from the presidents of Benin and Senegal despite both countries promising amnesty to the ambitious soldiers. Nigeria, was willing to send troops but used its power of persuasion and got the soldiers to back down.

In South Sudan, the only non-East African contingent of security forces came from Nigeria; and the country is also involved in stabilising Guinea-Bissau. The overall economy of the West African region continues to be fueled by Nigeria.

Much may be said about Nigeria’s current challenge with terrorism and internal strife, Nigeria’s continued influential role in the region and Africa at large remains largely intact. The challenge for policy-makers is to look at it from new perspectives.

This article was originally published at Mail & Guardian Africa

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Bad Policymaking: A Recipe to National Asphyxiation, by Dr. Fitz N Dinka, 3 November 2016


One of the most strategic driving forces behind the wellbeing of a society or an economy is policymaking. The various policies laid out by policy makers go a long way to either ameliorate different aspects of a society and hence the economy or hold it back.

Policymaking is the act of creating laws or setting standards for a government, organization or business. These changes usually come as a result of the identification, monitoring and evaluation processes where trends are uncovered, or as a direct result of a pressing situation within an organization or a society.

In an ideally running society, the government makes policies for the protection and wellbeing of the citizens and population at large, and to ensure a better and smooth running of the economy. Some policies however, especially within corrupt governments are passed for selfish reasons. Lawmakers generally are people of position, power and wealth. They may run or oversee businesses, whose interests naturally have to be protected. They are well in position to do so. Where selfishness and greed surpasses rational reasoning, policies will be made that will protect businesses even at the expense of the wellbeing and wishes of the society. It is a common practice worldwide.

Examples of such situations are The Rise of Gun Violence as a Public Health Issue and how the NRA (National Rifle Association) has lawmakers deep in their pockets. Others include the continuous activities of MONSANTO and GM food developing companies despite protests and proof of their adverse health effects; the numerous constitutional changes in corrupt African governments to ensure the stay of leaders in power and access to large funds from other governments for hidden services rendered; Big Pharma buying its way into the FDA advisory panels and so on. The list can go on and on and isn’t limited to a few countries. It is a global problem, the only difference being the fact that in developing countries and Africa it is labelled ”Corruption” while in the US and Europe- “Lobbying”.

The slow development pace in Africa especially can be blamed on a major mentality problem which keeps policy makers and wealthy businessmen at the top, canalizing national wealth and deciding on laws almost exclusively for their benefits until there comes a conflict of interest situation.

Cameroon for example, a country which had maintained a leadership role amidst other countries in the central African region, both in terms of economic development and infrastructure since independence, now has most of the other nations ahead especially infrastructure wise. A country so blessed but yet cursed. A country where the dream of the youth is going overseas or getting into the public service, while those in public offices strive to accumulate as much as they can on the job before their term is over. This mentality applies from the topmost leadership in the country to the least student whose dream is to make it into specialized public schools like ENAM (Cameroon National School of Administration and Magistracy) and IRIC (International Relations Institute of Cameroon). He is sure of becoming a millionaire or of at least living a comfortable life. With such a mentality, the system is held in a vicious cycle and a lot of effort has to be made to see the light.

Individuals and companies with wealth have the capacity to bring about development not only economically but also with regard to infrastructure and the wellbeing of the workforce. In any given society this will give credit to the individual or company in question for lifting such a burden off government shoulders. Unfortunately, despite depreciating and disappearing infrastructure, only the government is allowed to carry out such projects.

For example, a company, X, has a warehouse in a location which is practically inaccessible. No matter how large their resources, they have no right to construct a permanent road with bitumen. They have to manage it somehow and wait for government projects to do the job which may take years as is usually the case. Other governments foster partnerships with corporations and wealthy individuals and are only too glad to receive such proposals.

These are a few examples of how policies can make or break a country or an organization and policy makers are the keys to the wellbeing or failure of this process. Policymaking in various sectors should be confided to a neutral body or agency, with its leadership having no affiliation to the government but should have a government representative on the panel alongside specialists in the domain and an ordinary person from the public. Policies should be debated upon, voted and only then implemented.

If individuals can look beyond their present infinite wealth targets and visualize a future for their nations and even their own great grandkids, some mentalities will change. After all, greed and selfishness at such national levels only portray the lack of honour a citizen can have for his country.

Also see Top 10 Reasons Why The World Is Not Likely To Attain Health Targets Anytime Soon, by Dr. Fitz N Dinka

Dr. Fitz N Dinka is Senior Policy Analyst at the Central African Centre for Libertarian Thought and Action (CACliTA).

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

TURNAROUND REORGANIZATION STRATEGIES AND CREATING AND SUSTAINING A HIGH PERFORMANCE CORPORATE CULTURE:THE CASE OF C.S.P.H. CAMEROON(The Hydrocarbons Prices Stabilization Fund) By A. ANANGA Michael, 6th November, 2015


Introduction
Setting the scene:
Many businesses and corporations will over their existence experience a decline in performance. Such a period is characterized by harsh conditions, low morale and lack of zeal and enthusiasm with employees throughout the corporation. Some corporations recover from this and bounce back stronger than before, and some don’t. There are many factors responsible for such a lackluster state of affairs;
* Internal Factors: these are factors that are self inflicted such as, lack of innovation, poor corporate culture, incompetent management or poor financial control
* External Factors: these are factors that are extraneous to the corporation’s affairs such as government intervention, recession in a vital product(s) or service(s) that the corporation produces or renders respectively, or poor performance of partners with which the corporation cooperates with on a long term basis
The continuous survival and success of an organization or corporation greatly depends on managing these forces internally and externally.

The purpose of this presentation (working paper) is to show how, in less than 3 years, CSPH Cameroon has experienced a high performance culture within the organization. We shall examine and suggest along the way, how this turnaround strategy has come about along with restructuring and re – orientation. It is a bold and legitimate vision moving forward.

NOTE BENE: Turnaround strategies are not only for loss making companies. All companies that face declining business performance need turnaround actions and/or corporate transformation. CSPH Cameroon was no exception.

TURNAROUND STRATEGY
Process and pillars:
The first place to start if your corporation is in decline or failing is to look within the company. This is known as self – evaluation or self – assessment. You have to know what the situation is to better decipher the problem(s). When one knows the circumstances, one can take appropriate action(s). When looking within, focus on the following key areas:

Strategy
Does the corporation have a direction? Does the corporation know why it exists (does it thrive within its defined specific missions assigned to it by the board?) Does the corporation know what key problems it solves and for whom? Is the business focused on the right things?

People
Are the right people running the company? Are the right people in the right places? Are employees committed to organizational success? Are employees properly incentivized to share in the ongoing success of the company?

Are difficult policies; internal strife or behaviors of specific individuals driving down the collective spirit of the company? Are there bad eggs in your company that are contaminating the whole organization?

Petroleum Marketers
Are marketers satisfied? Do they know and trust CSPH and the services CSPH offers? Is CSPH focused on profitable marketers versus those marketers that are not so profitable and therefore difficult as partners? Is CSPH targeting the right marketer base?

Product
Is CSPH offering innovative services? Can the company better utilize 21st century technology to offer better services, reduce costs and improve competitive advantages?

Process
Are systems in place to get work done efficiently? Are things being done in the right way? Are policies, practices and procedures facilitating work or hindering work? Is the company structured for high performance?


Finance

Is CSPH competitive and profitable? Are cash flows sufficient to sustain ongoing commitments and operations? Is CSPH largely indebted or overly leveraged?

Re – evaluation is the most critical point of turnaround strategy; without it all other things are just frantic moves that will yield little at best. Before one begins to act, one has to know why, what and how the corporation shall be affected.
Challenges are not always evident at first glance. Problems take time to identify and evolve rapidly.


Creating a Value – Centered Culture: The CSPH Turnaround

The core problem
* Lack of rigor
* Professional indiscipline
* Lack of deadline in tasks
* Lack of inclusive meritocracy
* Lack of incentives
* Lack of team spirit (The LION’s spirit)

The solution moving forward/Strategy
* Transformation of the CSPH corporate culture (having the right people with the right attitude and in the right positions) to achieve its value creation goals
* Showing employees that by applying analytical thinking to their actions they could directly contribute to the strategic outcomes of the company as a whole (they should be bold in their thinking; think macro and not micro)
* Cultural transformation using visual techniques designed to align performance indicators with clear corporate targets moving forward

Re-inventing HR by Implementing a High Performance Culture

For a company to be competitive and grounded in its strategy and vision, CULTURE is EVERYTHING!

Respect and professionalism:
CSPH should embody colleagues who have genuine respect for one another, people who respect each other and get respected from others. A great workplace is made of stunning colleagues. What they do, and more importantly, how they do their work (in a professional and ethical manner) should define who they are.

Team work
A strong sense of inclusiveness should be the norm at CSPH. Directors should be akin to coaches; who train, observe and encourage colleagues in order that we have corporate stars in every junior position.

Honesty at all times:
Employees should be honest with themselves, their colleagues and bosses. For the Managing Director (MD), he should periodically ask his directors: “if I told you your position was in jeopardy, how hard would you work to change my mind to stay at CSPH?”


Hard work is not directly relevant:

Work smart NOT hard. It’s about effectiveness NOT effort. Performance should not be measured by how many hours employees spend in their offices. People should be graded by how much, how quickly and how well they get work done, especially under a deadline. Working under pressure is a measure of how effective employees can think well and deliver within a restricted time frame. (Working smart

Why performance is so key:
* In procedural work, the best are 2x better than the average
* In creative work, the best are 10x better than the average
Hence there is a huge premium on creating effective teams of the best and brightest.

The Essence of a High Performance Corporate Culture

High performance corporate cultures have 2 central characteristics:

* Each company is unique. Some companies such as MTN and Guinness Cameroon have a powerful organizational personality – a “soul”- derived from a deep heritage. Others such as SNH and Schlumberger Cameroon create their own distinctive environment. This strong combination of values, character and inclusive meritocracy creates a deep bond with employees, making their work unusually meaningful and rewarding

* The 4 cited companies above foster a similar set of behaviors. Their respective set of “corporate personalities” may be distinct, but they all encourage remarkably consistent patterns of behavior. People in these corporations care passionately about winning! They orient themselves outward, focusing on delivering sterling results and being a good corporate citizen in the community in which they do their business than on internal office politics.

They think like owners/shareholders and have a bias to action. They are about teamwork that wins and are more open to change.
CSPH should be reflective of such tenets moving forward.

Highlights on Corporate Culture & Performance:

* The culture of a company is not a vague set of principles which are pasted on boards and personal computers. The culture of a company is defined by a set of clear tangible vital behaviors, through which the identity and DNA of the company is established
* Culture is pervasive and palpable to outsiders
* Culture is imbibed by living the Vital Behaviors in every aspect of the business.

The foregoing above should be seen and respected as the corporation’s core values.

The overall framework for corporate transformation: from vision to achievement

Alignment of organizational culture, strategy and structure
In order for an organization to succeed, the three elements of strategy, culture and structure need to fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.

Of the three elements, CULTURE is widely accepted as the most difficult aspect to change, but is the most critical.

Breaking down the 3 steps of business transformation:

STRATEGY:
This means what the organization will utilize in order to achieve its core objectives (implement strategies and value propositions)
Structure:
How we organize ourselves in order to support the culture and strategy (restructuring and processes)

Culture:
‘How we do things around here’ in order to achieve the desired corporate strategy

One cannot talk about creating a high performance culture without talking about the people behind it. A corporation cannot function by itself, people make it function. People make or break a corporation or business entity.

A high performance culture is not dependent on one single factor or as a result of one or two things. The entire context you operate in greatly impacts your results. This context includes, but is not limited to, how things get done, how decisions get made, what works and what does not work and what gets rewarded and how.

It is pivotal to incentivize staff. This, in part, brings out the best in people. And when people are highly motivated, they will deliver for you and be there by you. People should have a sense of belonging to the company, a sense of inclusiveness that has a tendency to establish employee meritocracy.

The key to building a high – performing culture is to make sure you consider “what” and “how” you will get to your destination points – the clear definitions of where you are going in a specific time frame.

Strategy matters, no doubt. But without a winning culture to drive it forward, your strategy is taking you nowhere.

In the famous words of Peter Drucker: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast…every single time.”

N: B The culture of an organization, and hence the quality of its people is the most sustainable competitive advantage

Leadership is crucial in creating and sustaining a high performance culture. Cultural change won’t happen until and unless leaders (The Managing Director and Department Directors) themselves model their behaviors and values that define the new culture.

Below are a few principles that should guide CSPH’s high performance culture and discipline philosophy as visualized by the current Managing Director:

1. Cultural empathy
For CSPH leaders (Directors and Chiefs of Service), “sensitivity to culture” (so called cultural empathy) is a key requirement. Cultural empathy requires a degree of putting one’s ego aside for the greater good. This essentially means, within our context, that a leader has to surrender the notion that his/her tribe/culture/region/alma mater or point of view is always the best. A leader needs to be open minded, embrace the inclusiveness of others and by all means, embrace and encourage diversity of thought. A leader has to at times see through the eyes of others and reason through the brain of others.

2. Align the leadership team around a common vision and required behaviors
While many factors influence a performance driven culture, a very important one is what leaders do and say (in that order) consistently over time. Employees that are reticent to the new cultural change envisioned must be weeded out in order for the novel culture to take flight and empower the corporation. Remove “leaders” who are obstacles to change.

3. Focus the organization on delivering the corporate agenda
At CSPH, we should apply a culture of accountability, which is best achieved by holding people accountable for actual delivery, rather than spending energy on a formal “culture change” program. Culture is a means to an end, not an end in itself.

4. Manage the culture by managing the drivers of culture
At CSPH, we should encourage directors and chiefs of service to;

* “walk the talk”
* Clarify roles and establish a clear system of accountability and transparency
* Replace people where necessary and incentivize initiative and creativity
* Encourage an open dialogue environment. Let people say what they think. People should respect hierarchy and not fear hierarchy.
* Letters of congratulations should be the norm from the Managing Director (MD)

5. Taking the time to celebrate
A winning mindset and cultural change in a corporation can be a long journey- and one that requires tireless leadership.
Consistent, sustained clear communication of the required behaviors is critical. At CSPH, we should celebrate victories – large and small – but we never declare victory outright. Such is the vision and mindset of our Managing Director (MD) and it is a winning strategy moving forward.

So, globally, CSPH should believe in a philosophy of success as a result of both the individual and collective efforts of its employees. Employees should represent CSPH’s most significant asset and performance management creates the right environment for people to perform to their full potential. Responsibility for performance management lies both within the Department Director who drives performance and provide support and necessary resources for his departmental staff under his control, and the employee who should take ownership of his/her development and contributes positively to the realization of CSPH objectives. Performance management is not the responsibility of Human Resources.

The Integrated Performance Framework (I.P.F.) Notion
Definition:
An Integrated Performance Framework (I.F.P.) is the process that engages and develops individual and teams in the delivery of aligned corporate objectives that will result to sustainable growth.
By this is, is meant;

* Engages
Connects, communicates, interacts, involves, enables and challenges
* Develops
Empowers, educate, value added skills, identifies and creates growth opportunities for the team and the individual
* Individual and team
The identity, values, and blend of strengths that makes each person and team unique
* Sustainable growth
Enduring performance that continuously anticipates and meets the expectation of marketers and other partners in the sector
* Aligned corporate objectives
Objectives that are both results and behavioral oriented, translated from corporate strategy

Corporate Strategy Translated into SMART Goals

Specific:

* Define performance expectations and clearly define strategy moving forward
* Avoid being vague. Clarity is key
Measurable:
* Define the cost of the corporate strategy on year going basis. This should be objectively measured.
Attainable:
* Ensure that corporate goals are reasonable and legitimate
* Avoid assigning too many or too few goals
Realistic:
* Ensure that corporate goals are relevant to the strategy, levels of work and functional roles
Time – bound:
* Assign specific deadlines to all corporate deadlines
* Avoid making all deadlines to be at the end of the year (December)
* Spread deadlines throughout the year

Dealing with Resistance to Change in CSPH

Examples of questions leading to resistance to change in CSPH:

• Wait it out, this clamour for cultural change will go away
• Will the culture really change or is it a fad?
• Don’t believe in the leadership vision of the new General Manager
• If it’s not broken, why fix it?
• Let’s keep the status quo, it is more comfortable than the new ways
• Don’t know if I can trust this new future
Typology of Resistance to Change:
Three signs of resistance to change to look out for, and address, are;
• Silence and passive resistance (or refusal to engage) – The affected staff see internal passive harmony as more important than the change. Doing the strict minimum which allows these forces of resistance to stay below the radar of detection. No “extra mile” effort to be expected.
• Cynicism – Always looking on the bad side of things. Keeping your head down, ignoring it, and this shall pass.
• Collusion with passive resistance rather than confrontation

Dealing with Resistance to Change in CSPH
Solutions to overcome Resistance to Change…and to create a High Performance Culture:

1. PREPARATION
• Transparency (CEO/MD Newsletters to share the state of the corporation with staff)
• Setting of targets (Review of Annual and Quarterly CSPH performance. Encourage employees to go the “extra mile”. The more you expect from people, the more they will achieve.)
• Change of role (Colleague peer reviews and role play reversal)

2. RECOGNITION
• Rewards (Reward employees who excel and embody the core values of CSPH and who go beyond the normal call of duty. CEO letters of congratulations to deserving employees is a worthwhile initiative. CEO awards for acts of selflessness that epitomize the CSPH spirit should be encouraged)
• Effective communication (Corporate General Assembling can be a powerful tool when a CEO wants to drive organizational change and performance improvement. His discourse in the form of inspirational talks/speeches can be motivating and inspirational to employees to help them achieve more than what they thought possible)
• Celebration of victories, big and small; It is important to celebrate milestones once they have been reached. Taking time to celebrate is relevant because it acknowledges people’s hard work and makes them feel they are an integral part of the overall success of the company. Annual bonuses to staff should be encouraged in proportion to annual corporate profits. And end of year party is also a good idea to boost corporate morale among employees.

3. Consequence Management
• Performance (Implement a Performance Improvement Plan “P.I.P.”. In addition, CSPH should have a business performance metrics)
• Behaviour (Cultural slammers have to removed in order to better implement the new culture)

Critical Do’s and Don’ts
• Always prioritize culture over strategy and structure
• Clearly define vital behaviours to create the desired culture
• Spend a disproportionate amount of time on cultural issues
• Deal with individuals who are obstacles swiftly and thoroughly; remove them!
• Get the right leaders in senior management positions
• Get change agents (influential employees and opinion leaders) to assist in the transformation. The head of HR is critical to corporate success in transforming the culture
• Instill a passion to win and excel. Let excellence be a habit
• Align the Performance Framework to the Culture of the company
• In setting performance agreements, make them tangible and measurable. Avoid vague objectives.

CONCLUSION

Tracking the Execution:

It is may be trite, but it is simply true; there is no way to turn around a slumping company into a performing one by mere words. One needs to do the work! And, CSPH as a corporate body has not been working as it used to work before. For almost 3 years, under the new leadership and vision, CSPH has re-invented itself as a corporate entity. For a long time, the corporation had been engaged in random work rather than focusing on performance-driven, goal-oriented and timely mannered work.
It is one thing to work in a diffuse manner and it is quite another thing to align your work with the strategic goals of CSPH.

Every objective has been broken down into processes, with a project leader and has been structured to have a goal or key indicators to track performance.

Given that CSPH is not a profit making corporation, it has not deterred CSPH from being internally competitive and making the company strive for better days ahead. CSPH has adjusted and improved our bottom line (which is the CSPH “compte d’exploitation) in order that the company experiences a better financial fitting. This has been the pride and joy of the board of directors, the Director General/ MD, and the employees at CSPH. All benefactors have seen their bonuses increase by virtue of the remarkable corporate turnaround.

Mr Ananga is a cadre at CSPH and is Vice President of the Central African Centre for Libertarian Thought and Action (CACLiTA)

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Primary education without government coercion: The case of Cameroon, by Chofor Che, originally published at Africanliberty.org 28 August 2015


On Thursday the 20th of August 2015, the government of Cameroon closed down over 250 so called clandestine primary schools. This government measure also included the closing down of some Muslim religious institutions which the government claimed were operating without authorization. According to a report by Africa 24 aired on television on Sunday the 23rd of August 2015, these measures are being put in place because the government of Cameroon cannot allow unauthorized institutions of primary education continue to function, especially as some government officials claim that the teachers are not well trained to properly teach children. Other analysts add that due to attacks by the Islamist sect, Boko Haram, such establishments could attract bomb attacks and thus a bad omen for state security.

This scenario raises a lot of contentious issues. Is this a situation of government coercion against freedom to primary education or does the state have the obligation to ensure that poorly trained teachers do not impart wrong knowledge to young Cameroonians? In the context of the war against the Islamic sect Boko Haram, is the state of Cameroon correct to take such measure for the security of the whole country?

In Eamonn Butler’s 2014 publication entitled ‘Foundations of Free Society’, he alludes that according to a study by Professor James Tooley, it was proven that in countries like India, Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya, most children were attending non-government schools. Many of these schools were unofficial schools not recognized by government. Some of these schools received charitable assistance and none benefited from state funding. Even in such circumstances, children who went to such schools performed better than those in government schools. Professor Tooley also found that in government schools the rate of absenteeism was very high. Private schools had better facilities including toilets.

A recent study by the Cameroon based Central African Centre for Libertarian Thought and Action shows that indeed like in the cases of India, Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya, private education especially at the primary school level furnishes better results in subjects like mathematics and general knowledge. Therefore the state of Cameroon needs to rethink measures on promoting primary school education. Closing down over 200 primary schools is not an appropriate policy measure.

Rather than closing down these establishments promoting primary education, there was need for the government of Cameroon to instead allow these establishments function and improve the teaching capacity of teachers via training programs. Such a measure will go a long way in improving the quality of teaching in these establishments.

Several private establishments are not registered because of heavy taxes levied on them by the state. In this respect the proprietors of these institutions prefer to run them without proper authorization. Being unauthorized does not mean that the quality of education is poor. Therefore it is important for the state of Cameroon to ensure that registration and taxation methods in place are favorable for private establishments to be created and stay in business.

Refining the curriculum of private institutions and making sure it meets the expectation of an emerging economy is germane. Rather than closing down these private establishments, the state of Cameroon could have also assisted these private establishments by refining their curriculum and ensure that it meets the expectations of development objectives of the state.

Private public partnership is an emerging phenomenon that improves quality of services as argued by certain economists. In this vein, rather than closing down private institutions involved with primary education, the state of Cameroon may have considered partnership agreements between some of these private institutions with state institutions, so as share best experiences and close up loopholes, for the betterment of young Cameroonians.

Not all Cameroonians have access to primary education, although this is a major objective set by the Millennium Development Goals, which was supposed to be realized this year, 2015. Private establishments promoting primary education can indeed make this dream come true if given the opportunity to do so by the government of Cameroon and most states around the world. All the same it is equally important for these private institutions to respect rules and regulations set in place by the state. Owing to the fact that terrorism is now a reality especially in the Northern part of the state, there is need for proprietors of privately managed primary schools to respect security measures and collaborate with the forces of law and order.

 
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Posted by on October 1, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Harnessing the remittance market for development in the Central African sub-region by Asanji Burnley Nguh, 19 June 2015


Remittances have been identified as the third pillar of development as their volume is second to Foreign Direct Investment and three times higher than Overseas Development Assistance and are steadier than both private debt and portfolio equity flows. Analytical studies have shown that remittances contribute to poverty reduction in home countries. Remittances are an essential source of external funds for developing countries.

Since 2001, the transfer of funds by Cameroonians abroad to their home country has considerably increased, as testified by the multiplicity of financial companies specialised in the transfer of funds in Cameroon. The multitude of these canals renders impossible the evaluation of the exact amount of these transfers. All the same, going by the 2009 World Bank report, we note an increase of the approximate amount transferred from abroad each year by Cameroonians for the period 2001 – 2008. These amounts, are estimated at US $ 11 million in 2000, to US $ 103 million in 2004 and US $ 167 million in 2008, representing 0,8% of the GDP in 2008.

According to a 2010 World Bank report, in the eight countries belonging to the Central African sub region, remittances do not exceed Official Development Aid (ODA) and are low compared to the other African sub regions. This is partly due to a lack of data reported for half of the countries the sub region. Out of the recorded remittances going to the remaining four countries (125.3 million Euros), Cameroun receives by far the biggest share (86%).

Recognising that remittances are, above all, private funds, but which also offer development possibilities for entire communities and countries, how then, do remittances impact development in Sub Saharan Africa especially in the Central African Sub region and how can remittance flow be enhanced?  This write-up also outlines barriers to remittance markets in the Central African sub-region as well as possible recommendations.

According to the World Bank 2011 Remittance Markets for Africa report, remittances can affect economic growth in a positive manner by raising consumption and investment expenditures. Remittances also increase expenditures on health, education, and nutrition that contribute to long-term productivity; and by improving the stability of consumption and output at both the household and macroeconomic level. These benefits in turn increase the supply of investment from both domestic and foreign sources by increasing financial intermediation, which can ultimately contribute to higher growth.

The 2011 report also brings out the fact that economies in which the financial system is underdeveloped such as those of the Central African Sub-region, remittances may alleviate liquidity and credit constraints and help finance small-business investments, thereby effectively acting as a substitute for financial development.

Consequently, remittances are also of great importance to countries for maintaining external-sector balance and macroeconomic stability. These are some of the reasons why remittances have been receiving increasingly the attention of politicians and analysts.

It is worth noting that despite the development implications, remittance markets in the Central African sub region remain plagued with many challenges.

The remittance market in the Central African sub region is plagued by regulatory bottle necks. Existing policies in a number of countries in the sub region create barriers for deployment of these flows for national gain. Regulations that restrict, limit or authorize institutions to carry out foreign currency transfers include those regulating foreign currency management and authorizing institutions to perform foreign currency transactions.

The decision to allow a particular institution to perform international money transfers is instrumental to expanding financial access for remittance senders and recipients. Countries with more restrictions on outbound payments often belong to monetary unions, such as the Central African Monetary Union (UMAC) or have legislation dating from
before 1998.

Whereof, these policies are there to increase remittances flows in the sub region they rather hamper its development and thus needs to be improved upon for better results, they are either not being implemented or improved upon due to some factors such as;

  • The non-implementation of a regulatory framework to reduce transfer cost in the different corridors;
  • Lack of inclusive finance;
  • Lack of support to investment motivations of the Diaspora amongst others.

The Central African sub region remittance market exhibits a low level of competition and has limited payout presence in rural areas. Going by an IFAD report (Sending money Home to Africa, 2009), 50 per cent of the banks in the Central African Sub-region countries pay remittances, but the percentage jumps to 100 per cent in countries like Angola where only banks are allowed to pay. This situation strongly discourages other actors from entering the remittance market.

Exclusivity arrangements severely limit competition and create barriers to entry. Most regulations in the Central African Sub-region permit only banks to pay remittances. In half of the countries of the Sub-region, they constitute over 50 percent of the businesses paying money transfers. About 41 percent of payments and 65 percent of all payout locations are serviced by banks in partnerships with Western Union and Money Gram.

More than 20 percent of the people within the reach of Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) receive remittances. Yet MFIs currently represent less than 3 per cent of remittance payers. In countries where MFIs do pay remittances they often operate as subagents of banks. This can be seen in the Central Africa Republic where they have an impregnation rate of about 20 percent.

High remittance costs represent an unnecessary burden on Central African migrants. In a 2011 World Bank report based on IMF survey, almost 70 percent of central banks in the Central African Sub-region cited high costs as the most important factor inhibiting the use of formal remittance channels.

According to data from the recently released World Bank Migration and Development Brief 23 Report of 2015, the cost of remitting to the Central African Sub-region remains above global levels (11.3 percent of sending the equivalent of US $200, versus the global average of 7.9 percent).

The lack of readily available data on the remittances markets in the Central African sub-region is another major difficulty. Most  states do not report data on remittance outflows or inflows to the IMF Balance of Payments Statistics, which is the main source for the internationally comparable dataset of the Migration and Remittances Factbook produced by the World Bank.

Also, most of the money sent home by migrants is unrecorded, and therefore does not enter many countries’ national statistics. Development planners increasingly stress the importance of tracking this money. That will help governments try to increase remittances as a source of development finance and better channel them into productive sectors. This makes it difficult to compute the impact of remittances on the development of the sub region.

In the light of these obstacles, the following can be advanced as possible recommendations that can enhance financial access in the Central African Sub-region.

Firstly, regulatory reform is central to leveraging the impact of remittances. There are a range of businesses that have the operational and financial capacity to conduct transfers, but that are not permitted to do so. When banks can perform transfers and MFIs can only act as sub-agents, both institutions suffer as they encounter barriers or lack incentives to enter the market.

Allowing more actors to perform money transfers will expand the reach beyond banks and foreign exchange bureaus, allowing greater competition among Remittances Service Providers (RSPs).

While there are eight banks on average in each Central African Sub-region country, the MFIs impregnation in these countries is about 6.5%, half of which are regulated, and at least three or four of which could compete as payers.

The Central African Sub-region countries have a very low number of payout locations less than 34%. Bringing MFIs and post offices into the market would double the number of payout locations.

According to the IFAD 2009 report cited above, 4 (Cameroon, Congo, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea) out of the 8 countries of the Central African Sub-region do make use of the Post offices for Remittances payment. Gabon has a Post Office impregnation rate of 50 percent, while Congo has 28 percent.

It is also important that governments provide to MFIs equal market access. This may be done by ensuring basic benchmarks regarding their capacity to comply with the standard regulations on financial crime prevention, cash flow and liquidity to cover payments, technological innovation, trained staff, market presence and financial service cross-sale.

Policies should be designed to increase financial sector development. This may be done by encouraging greater competition among banks and by promoting alternative providers such as microfinance institutions, credit cooperatives, and postal savings. In this way banks are likely to have a beneficial impact on the market for remittances.

Improving competition is germane. In order to improve on limited competition, there is need to phase-out exclusivity agreements and contracts that prevent agents from forming partnerships with other providers or that block competitors from entering the market.

Governments in the sub region should encourage competition through foreign currency market promotion. Competition is enhanced through the dissemination of information and networking tools.

Increasing the role of post offices in remittances can be facilitated by several policy measures. Post offices can partner with destination-country post offices, banks, and money-transfer companies to extend existing domestic money-order facilities to international remittances. Better coordination among the various regulating entities should be promoted to ensure better consumer protection.

High remittance costs represent an unnecessary burden on the Central African migrants. Reducing remittance costs can lead to increases in the remittances sent by migrants, in turn increasing the resources available to recipient households.

The extended geographical coverage of domestic mobile money services and the growing number of customers with access to mobile money accounts may be encouraged in the Central African region. This may entail the need to extend money access points to include ATMs and mobile wallets as well as agents in many countries. The adoption of these innovative technologies is still nascent and will vastly improve access to both remittances and broader financial services, including low-cost savings and credit products, for the Central African migrants and remittance recipients.

Measures that would encourage the expansion of mobile phones to cross-border remittances include (a) harmonizing banking and telecommunications regulations to enable mainstream banks to participate in mobile money transfers and for telecommunications firms to offer micro deposit and savings accounts; (b) ensuring that mobile distribution networks are open to multiple international RSPs instead of becoming exclusive partnerships between an international money transfer operator (MTO) and country-based mobile money services.

Furthermore, Technological development will benefit financial access, including the adoption of new hardware, the development of software platforms, and the adaptation and integration of existing technologies. In the case of remittances, the key to technological development lies in strengthening payment networks.

Finally, as yet, relatively little is known about remittances to Central African Sub-region. The key to both informed policy decisions and private-sector interest is the availability of timely, accurate information.

As more information becomes available on a regular basis, governments, the private sector and the donor community are each better able to play their roles in maximizing the impact of remittances.

Conclusively, good governance and sound economic policy initiatives are also essential if the potential of remittances are to be enhanced in the Central African sub region.

Asanji Burnley is a diplomat by training from the International Relations Institute of Cameroon (IRIC). He is President and co-founder of the Cameroon based Central African Centre for Libertarian Thought and Action (CACLiTA).

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Liberalisation: Key to catalysing the air transport sector in the Central African sub region by Sirri Caroline Nfornah, 18 June 2015


The air transport industry consists of activities that directly involve transporting people and goods by air, which includes airlines, airports and general aviation. It has a vital role to play in achieving sustainable development in the Central African sub region. The expansion of air services is a necessary condition for the development of a more diversified export base across the continent and for the expansion of tourism to the sub region. Improvements in the air transport industry would help to raise living standards and alleviate poverty by lowering transport costs, supporting more rapid economic growth and increasing personal mobility.

According to the African Union, ‘Aviation in general provides the only rapid worldwide transportation network, which makes it essential for global business and tourism – thus facilitating economic growth, particularly in developing countries.’ Liberalisation leads to increased air services, which in turn, facilitates growth in the sectors of the economy by supporting increased trade, attracting new businesses to the region, encouraging investment and enhancing productivity.

Liberalisation also offers efficient, competitive carriers an opportunity to enhance profitability by expanding into new markets, accessing a wider pool of investment and through consolidation.

There’ve been numerous initiatives and good efforts by governments of the Central African sub region to benefit from the opportunities of the aviation industry. The African Economic Outlook reports that there’s been an increased government-led infrastructure investment and modernization of Congo’s aviation sector- from the construction of new airports and the modernization of existing ones, as well as the expansion of the country’s national carrier’s footprint; Equatorial Congo Airlines( ECAir).

The domestic and sub-regional air service industry nonetheless has remained underserved, inefficiently connected, underdeveloped, and uncompetitive. Global bodies such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA), African Union (AU) Commission, Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), and the African Airlines Association (AFRAA), as well as African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC) are worried that until African governments liberalise the air transport sector, the much-desired development would continue to be wishful thinking.

Their worries are not baseless because the absence of an air transport policy that would define how the industry would be positioned is not in place. There has to be policy that would assist the industry to chart the way forward for Africa’s in general and particularly Central Africa’s economic development.

The Central African aviation industry has been facing a number of problems over the past decades including; poor management, government involvement, financial constraints, monopoly and increased safety and security measures amongst others. The aim of this write up is to show how the Central African sub region, like the rest of the aviation industry elsewhere is facing challenges as well. The way forward gives various proposals as to how states in the Central African sub region can reap the benefits of opening up their skies and improving the aviation industry which is critical to the African Union (AU)’s Agenda 2063.

So what is behind all these casualties, and how can the countries in this sub region maximise the potentials enshrined in the air transport sector? In other words, the above facts suggest the need to examine the operating environment to identify factors which are stifling efficient aviation in the Central Africa sub region.

The numerous initiatives and good efforts to benefit from the opportunities of the aviation industry in the Central African sub region have either been too little and/or too slow.  Many reasons can account for the above assertion: inadequate infrastructure and man power, political intervention as well as governments’ control and monopoly over the industry.

A report on the implementation of the air transport policy by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) reports that more than any reason, the declarations of intent that Central African states have made regarding cooperation and integration have not been effectively carried out because of their lack of initiative, trust and the financial difficulties most of them are going through. While the studies which have been undertaken could have led to positive results, the cultural and political commitments have not been forthcoming.

It seems the abandonment of the Air CEMAC project by CEMAC Heads of State (Cameroon, Chad, the Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of Congo) during the 12th Session of Heads of State in Libreville-Gabon has fallen foul of this interference. It should be noted that the community had planned for Air CEMAC to improve connectivity between the neighbouring countries in a region long starved of reliable air services. There were also plans for international routes to major cities such as Johannesburg, Dubai, Frankfurt and London.

These states have not been able to take several initiatives to enter into alliances that would have helped them to achieve the objectives of liberalisation. Because people are afraid of themselves, they refuse to integrate fully and completely.

Another challenge is also attributed to the economic and political situation of Central African countries. Since the early 1990s, these states have been experiencing political, economic and social turmoil. Their governments have not had the time they need to concentrate on developing the air transport sector, more specifically, airline cooperation and integration. They are still distrustful of each other and hesitate to commit themselves to cooperation and integration arrangements.

The 1999 Yamoussoukro Decision was signed by 44 African countries in 1999 as a key enabler for air liberalisation. The air transport sector in the Central African region is hampered by the fact that the implementation of the Yamoussoukro Declaration regionally has now become a political decision, because the airline industries ownership within the Central African sub region are mostly state-owned. It appears that fair play is not always observed, particularly with regard to operational approaches, whereby some airlines have tended to unfairly eliminate other airlines in order to monopolize the market.

The potential dominance and monopoly of some national carriers is a concern for certain governments. Throughout the sub region, a number of countries continue to restrict market access under the pretext that their national airline is not ready to compete in a liberalized market. They view airports as potentially monopolistic enterprises to be regulated and controlled.

Camair-Co is Cameroon’s new national carrier, succeeding Cameroon Airlines which collapsed in 2008 after an unsuccessful privatisation process. The carrier has a monopoly on its domestic routes where it had grown capacity in the past years, including a more than 57% increase on the largest route between the country’s biggest city Douala and the capital Yaoundé. Camair-Co continues to hold a monopoly, but profitability remains elusive.

Speaking at the Aviation Africa Conference in Dubai earlier last month, the chairman of Rwandair and former Ethiopian Airlines CEO Girma Wake said that while the ideas of consolidation always made great sense they fall down on political intervention and individual national protectionism and interests.

The problem is exacerbated by the European Union’s ban on several airlines for safety reasons. A lack of confidence in safety oversight has resulted in some airlines with good safety records being put on the list. Not surprisingly, about 80% of intercontinental traffic to and from Africa is carried by non-African airlines.

Local civil aviation companies in the sub region for instance, are often blacklisted because they do not meet international criteria and this black-listing remains a critical challenge for these countries in achieving international recognition in this regard. For example, the expansion of air traffic in Gabon has been affected by an EU blacklist of several Gabonese carriers, after an audit of the national civil aviation authority conducted in 2007 found insufficient compliance with European safety regulations and standards. As a result, some locally registered airlines are currently unable to land in Europe. The blacklist has prevented partnerships with local operators.

The World Bank’s Africa Infrastructure Country Diagnostics (AICD) study provides analysis of infrastructure gaps, including for aviation, where lack of airline competition and the development of regional airport hubs are noted as important constraints. Inadequate airport and other transport-related infrastructure weigh heavily on the sub region. Many airports are incapable of accommodating large aircraft and tend to have very few runways. For instance, air traffic control at the Douala international airport is seriously deficient; tend to be frequently poorly drained and overdue for resurfacing.

These highlight the failure of a number of governments and airport authorities to invest in infrastructures such as air navigation networks to improve safety standards. The poor infrastructure arises from decades of under investment by governments and neglect that has affected development in the air transport infrastructure.

If the aviation sector is to reach its full potential in the Central African sub region, priority should be given to a number of issues.

Firstly, the issues of state-control can be addressed by fully implementing of the 1999 Yamoussoukro Decision which was signed by 44 African countries in 1999 as a key enabler for air liberalisation. Liberalisation is an effective means to fuel the growth of low-cost competition, as well as removing some of the restrictions on air services. Therefore, collective effort from governments of the Central African sub region will be required to push forward the liberalisation agenda by fast pacing unilateral liberalisation, setting up independent regulatory bodies to reduce government involvement.

Governments should also provide other facilitator assistance, such as implementing global standards in safety, security and regulations, reducing high charges, taxes and fees and removing visa requirements for ease of movement across the sub region.

Improvements in the air transport infrastructure have a key role to play as a facilitator of and complement to policies that aim to improve living standards and alleviate poverty. When it comes to rolling out new projects and revamping existing infrastructure for the purpose of fostering economic development, public-private partnerships are key. Infrastructure allows state authorities to be in control of these projects while the management and maintenance is delegated to external, reputable private partners – companies that have the necessary knowledge, expertise and capacity. Private companies from outside can provide world-class expertise that meets international standards especially when one wants to create and maintain a level of confidence.

The Malabo Airport, used by over 600,000 travellers in 2013, has benefited from a public infrastructure investment that has upgraded all airports in the major islands, as well as the Bata International Airport in the continental region. This investment seeks to transform the capital into an air hub for the sub region and for the continent, with the aviation sector forecasted to be worth USD 860 million by 2020.

The Economist (2003) describes the lack of full liberalisation and the restrictions arising from this as one of the biggest dangers facing the global airline industry. Aviation makes a significant contribution to the global economy. In an increasingly competitive global environment, the Central African sub region can no longer remain isolated, but must pursue measures that make its aviation efficient and capable of withstanding the global challenge.

The conclusion is that Central African states need to reap the benefits of the current trend in the aviation industry, which includes building up an extensive global network to realize economies of scale and density and to meet consumer demands.

Mrs. Sirri Caroline Nfornah is the Public Relations Officer for the Central African Centre for Libertarian Thought and Action (CACLiTA), Cameroon. She is equally a trained diplomat at the Ministry of External Relations, Cameroon. She holds a Masters in diplomacy from the International Relations Institute of Cameroon and is currently an Atlas Leadership Academy participant.

Mrs. Sirri Caroline Nfornah is the Public Relations Officer for the Central African Centre for Libertarian Thought and Action (CACLiTA), Cameroon. She is equally a trained diplomat at the Ministry of External Relations, Cameroon. She holds a Masters in diplomacy from the International Relations Institute of Cameroon and is currently an Atlas Leadership Academy participant.

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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