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Monthly Archives: December 2013

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

– See more at: http://africanliberty.org/content/recap-overall-governance-situation-central-african-region-chofor-che#sthash.IAsclYV7.dpuf

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2013 in Africa Development

 

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Concerns about the 2014 Financial Law of the Republic of Cameroon – Chofor Che, published by AfricanLiberty.org, 18 Decembe 2013


The 2014 financial law for the Republic of Cameroon was adopted by the National Assembly on Sunday the 8 of December 2014. It was the first time that the Senate of Cameroon, mentioned in the 1996 Constitution as the Second Chamber, but installed in mid 2013, took part in the deliberation and adoption of this very important law of the State. This contribution thus attempts to give an analysis of this financial law.

The 2014 budget stands at 3312 billion Frs. CFA as against 3236 billion Frs. CFA in 2013. There has thus been an increase of 76 billion Frs. CFA. According to some fiscal analysts this increase is justifiable because the state needs to pay 25000 newly recruited youth into the civil service. These analysts add that the State equally has to remunerate newly elected and appointed Senators as well as traditional rulers. A journalist like Godlove Bainkong in an article in Cameroon Tribune dated the 12 of December 2013 is of the opinion that this budgetary rise is because the state has to increase energy production especially as the population still suffers from heavy power shortages. He further argues that it is thus vital for the State to finalise construction on gas plants, hydro electric dams, as well as hasten investment in rural electrification. The putting into place of these investment projects is expected to enable the State to electrify over 500 localities in the next three years.

Many Cameroonians are concerned about where the money to finance these projects is going to come from. According to Josiane Tchakonte in the same edition of Cameroon Tribune dated the 12 of December 2013, money is going to be gotten from revenue sourced from petroleum and non petroleum products. In 2014, the State expects the National Hydrocarbons Corporation to pump in 546 billion Frs. CFA. Revenue from non petroleum sources is projected at 1985 billion Frs. CFA. 1240 billion Frs. CFA is to be sourced from taxes, 658 billion Frs. CFA is to be gotten from customs duties. These internal sources of revenue are to make up 80 per cent of the State’s budget for 2014. Concerning other finances the State expects 609 billion Frs. CFA in 2014 as against 574 billion Frs. CFA in 2013. 55 billion Frs. CFA is expected as foreign aid.

A careful assessment of Cameroon’s financial law of 2014 shows that the State has decided to remain more of a consumer economy rather than a producer economy. There is no serious zeal by the State to revamp the private sector. Rather than allocating a lot of money in paying salaries for 25000 newly recruited youth into to the civil service, it is germane for the State to encourage the creation of small and medium size enterprises for the employment of youth and women. It is germane to hasten the State’s industrialisation process. It is not healthy for a State to rely heavily on revenue from petroleum products, taxes and custom duties, especially as a great chunk of this revue is siphoned by corrupt state officials. It is thus important for the State to rethink its economic planning strategy especially in the financing of investment projects. 2015 is around the corner and the State is still leap forging in the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals.

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2013 in Africa Development

 

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The African Union’s role in enhancing constitutionalism and the rule of law in Africa – by Chofor Che, published at Africanliberty.org, 28 Nov 2013


I was invited to a High Level Consultation, convened at the King Fahd Palace Hotel in Dakar from the 25 to the 27 of November 2013 by the Department of Political Affairs of the African Union (AU) in collaboration with the host country, Senegal, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank and the African Governance Institute (AGI). Before this High Level Consultation holding in Senegal for the second time, the Youth Programme of the African Union had also organized at the same venue, a High Level Dialogue on Governance and Democracy on Africa. These Consultations coincided with the 50th Anniversary of the then Organization of African Unity (OAU) now the African Union (AU) and offered a unique opportunity to review the progress made in the area of Constitutionalism and the Rule of Law among Member States during this period. There was equally a need to reflect upon emerging challenges and prospects. It was hoped that the Consultations would also provide the AU and its strategic partners the opportunity to consider ways in which the AU could enhance Constitutionalism and the Rule of Law thereby improving its role on governance and democracy on the continent.

Constitutionalism is considered as the respect for the fundamental law empowering and limiting government. It is premised on well-defined concepts such as the need for an independent judiciary, the need for human rights, as well as the need for separation of powers between the executive, the judiciary and the legislative branches of government. On the other hand, the rule of law focuses on the need of the legal system to function effectively and efficiently, thus ensuring equality of all persons before the law.

Participants taking part in these consultations were expected to examine the socio political dynamics of constitution making and reforms processes in Africa, to share comparable experiences on reinforcing constitutional order and safeguarding the rule of law among African Member States. They were also expected to address the emerging phenomenon of popular uprisings and protests and their political and legal consequences on the principles of constitutionalism and rule of law in Africa. They were equally expected to assess the emerging trends, challenges and opportunities to strengthen constitutional order and rule of law in Africa and develop an agenda for promoting constitutionalism and the rule of law in Africa.

Two breakout sessions took place on the 26 of November 2013 during the African Union’s High Consultation on enhancing constitutionalism and the rule of law in Africa. The first breakout session focused on how African member states would accept and come to terms with the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance. The second breakout session was on furnishing a roadmap for an African 2063 agenda in the area of strengthening constitutional order and rule of law as a key ingredient of continental integration and development. After these breakout sessions, I realized that in as much as the African Union had good intentions on enhancing constitutionalism and the rule in Africa, there was actually no concrete modus operandi on how this regional institution was going to achieve these dreams. I also realized that there was actually little harmony with the African Union’s agenda and the agenda of member states when it comes to enhancing constitutionalism and the rule of law in Africa.

Member states especially in the Central African region remain the most corrupt and undemocratic states in the World, despite the AU’s efforts in enhancing constitutionalism and the rule of law on the continent. States like the Central African Republic and part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are still plagued by armed conflict. During the Dakar encounter several participants purported that most of the public and economic policy of Francophone Africa is still decided by France, reason why there has been no integration between these states, let alone Africa’s integration.

It is obvious that the AU has not adequately enhanced constitutionalism and the rule of law on the continent. How can the AU try to set an agenda for 2063 when immediate concerns like conflict in Central African Republic and the DRC have not been adequately addressed? How can the AU be trying to set an agenda for 2063 when member states especially in the Central African region have not domesticated the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance?

In as much as the AU has been considered weak in enhancing constitutionalism and the rule of law in Africa, it will be suicidal if we only criticize this institution without suggesting ways by which we can all improve constitutionalism and the rule of law on the continent. In this regard, it is thus germane for African youth both at home and in the diaspora, women, university professors, research institutions, think tanks, religious and civil society organisations to all play a role in enhancing constitutionalism and the rule of law on the continent. It is also important for central governments on the continent to consider the regional and local tiers of government as important actors in enhancing constitutionalism and the rule of law on the continent for better service delivery. Of course central governments must welcome these actors as equal partners in the quest for meaningful constitutionalism and the rule of law in Africa.

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2013 in Africa Development

 

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