RSS

Category Archives: Africa Development

Reflecting on the precarious economic and security atmosphere plaguing the Central African Economic Monetary Community by Chofor Che, 30 December 2016


The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Bank of the Central African States (BEAC) met during its fourth ordinary session in Yaoundé, December 20 2016. Top of the agenda of this meeting was a vivid analysis of the macroeconomic situation of the Central African Economic Monetary Community (CEMAC). This meeting held a few days before the Extraordinary Summit of four Heads of States on the Central African Sub region, slatted for December 23 2016.

The outcome of the MPC meeting revealed that the growth rate of CEMAC states which was projected at 1.7 per cent a few months earlier dropped to 1 per cent. According to experts and analysts, two main reasons are to blame for the precarious economic atmosphere in the CEMAC zone. The first reason is the negative impact of the drop in oil prices in the world market. In 2015, the growth rate in the sub region stood at 2.8 per cent. Inflation was at 3 per cent as initially projected. In 2016, the key rate in the CEMAC zone remained unchanged at 2.45 per cent, while budgetary deficit hovered around 4.2 per cent of the sub region’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Current external deficit has slightly dropped from 11.4 per cent of the GDP as external monetary coverage dropped from 71.1 per cent last year to 50 per cent.

There is no gainsaying that the economic atmosphere in the Central Africa Sub region is unstable and calls for member states to make important fiscal and economic policy readjustments. Coupled with the economic and fiscal challenges, member states such as Cameroon and Chad are faced with terrorists attacks from the terrorists group Boko Haram. The Central African Republic is still faced with serious security concerns.
A major mistake that member states of the Central African Sub region especially countries like Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea made as far back as 2014 was to depend a lot on oil and neglect other sectors like the agriculture and the tourism industries. According to analysts, though the oil sector is a very lucrative one, it remains a very unpredictable sector. Despite recent stabilisation, oil prices were expected to remain well below pre shock levels in the medium term as production was feared to start falling in the long run.

CEMAC countries have been therefore forced to rethink through their developmental priorities with respect to the new economic context overshadowed by falling oil prices. Countries like Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon have decided to scale back their spending plans by reducing public investment and limiting current expenditure. All of the countries in the sub region have also sought advances from the regional central bank. The consequences of these and other debt related developments is that regional public debt is instead on the rise.

Reducing public investment and limiting current expenditure is definitely not the way to go for CEMAC member states. Depending equally on loans from the regional central bank will only make CEMAC member states highly indebted. One of the ways CEMAC member states may overcome such a financial quagmire is by boosting the private sector and focusing more on other sources of revenue. The agricultural sector in most CEMAC countries remains grossly unexploited. There is need for CEMAC member states to improve and mechanise their agricultural sector.

CEMAC member states need to ensure macroeconomic sustainability by boosting non oil revenue, curbing on public spending and encouraging serious competition in the non-oil sectors like tourism and agriculture. There is equally a need for unnecessary trade barriers to be dismantled and/or curbed so as enable fluid business transactions between member states. A drop in imports related to the public investment programmes will contribute in improving current accounts. Because of the magnitude of the necessitated adjustments, maintaining this course of action will be a challenge. Additionally, the degradation of the security situation in the sub region especially with the conflict in the Central African Republic and terrorist attacks in the North of Cameroon, could weaken an already complex business environment and hamper further efforts to invest in regional infrastructure, a major element for non oil growth. CEMEC member states thus have a serious challenge to embark on a very ambitious but realistic reform agenda to enhance macroeconomic stability as well as encourage inclusive and sustainable growth. Domestic and regional institutions need to play a major role in such efforts.

Chofor Che is co-founder and Chair at the Central African Centre for Libertarian Thought and Action Cameroon, an affiliate of the Washington DC based Atlas Network. He is also an associate of Africanliberty.org and LibreAfrique.org.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on December 30, 2016 in Africa Development, CEMAC, Uncategorized

 

Tags:

From Global Dominance to Global Responsibility: The case of the rising “sun” in CHINA. By A. ANANGA Michael, 2 August 2016


It is amazing how far the Chinese have come, and it is scary to imagine how far they are willing and able to go. In the early 70s, when Maoism was the doctrine and vision in China, America was quick to label such ambitions as “The Soft Yellow Threat, very Shakespearian in nature; full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” How wrong the United States was then and is now. China over the last 30 something years has experienced a renaissance economically and socially that rivals any such outburst in the history of nations. GDP has never been higher, per capita income is on the rise, exports are sky rocketing, and the Chinese brand and market has never had better credibility. To give China’s rise a sense of context, the number of billionaires in China has gone quadrupled fold in the last decade. This statistic encapsulates the contemporary China success story in the 21st century.

Examples abound; in today’s corporate landscape, being present in China is a corporate sine qua non for most Fortune 500 companies. These days, a study of the Chinese model of comparative business strategy is a must in any Business School worthy of its name. In today’s nonstop business cycle, an association with China be it in project finance, venture capital deals, outsourcing of resources is seen as instant credibility! Today’s China has given out more loans to receiving countries than the World Bank in 2010. Nice! America essentially financed its so called “war on terror” in Afghanistan and Iraq on selling U.S. Treasury Bonds to China. As this article is being typed out, the State Department and Department of Treasury in the United States are meeting with a high powered delegation from China in Washington, D.C. to negotiate “terms of trade” to offset the huge US/China trade deficit. The question that begs an answer is; is this the same China the United States characterized as “The Yellow Threat…signifying nothing” some 40 years back? I think not. How times have changed. And ROLES, too.

Today, most goods around the world, in part or in whole, have passed through China. The relevance of the Chinese economy, its growing residual income and her buying or purchasing power is clearly shaping the future and order of global business and strategy as we know it. Today’s China is bold, confident, assertive, resolute about its objectives, and has a clear vision of where the country sits from an economic, military, geopolitical and social standpoint. From the horn of Africa, to the Asian panhandle, from North America to Europe and the Middle East, China’s presence can be felt, it has impact beyond borders and its foot prints is shaping and will define the landscape of tomorrow’s world in commerce and industry.

But how should the Chinese handle this “power”? With power comes responsibility; a huge one. Will China be the “globocop” who shrugs everybody to get what she wants at any cost? (21st century Sino – Asian Pacific Hegemony). I don’t think so, though the latter description is a characterization of another world power. Your guess is as good as mine. Will China be the global leader who will hand out economic grants and loans with “no strings” attached as to how a receiving country should use the funds, or question a receiver country’s corporate or public governance? If the Chinese policy in giving grants to African countries is any indication as to the last question, there is nothing to worry about, for China doesn’t meddle in the sovereign affairs of a receiving country in giving loans or grants. Will China be that global leader who shall always side with Russia and North Korea just to “stick it” to the Americans, and not base her foreign relations with the West on any aforethought or policy considerations as it seems to be the case thus far? Will the China of today be so obsessed with obtaining natural resources around the world that she will stop at nothing to get them, and in doing so not share technology transfer with the host countries? Is China ultimately a friend or foe to most countries it seeks to open relationships with for economic reasons?

How will a renewed partnership with China be moving forward? What will be the face and attitude of the “NEW and BOLD CHINA?” These are some of the fundamental questions we as policy analysts and macro economic and political economy pundits should be asking in the wake of the China –Africa Forum 2016 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Rightly or wrongly, China is clearly the future of global business. How African countries seize opportunities with this impending global dominant power will shape the future of the African horn moving forward. History is watching and shall judge us by our actions, not words.

Mr Ananga is a Senior Corporate Counsel at C.S.P.H (The Hydrocarbons Prices Stabilization Fund). He is Vice President at CACLiTA.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 2, 2016 in Africa Development

 

Tags: , ,

Any hopes for progress on the European Union’s Economic Partnership Agreements with Cameroon? Chofor Che, 24 April 2016


Opponents of free trade in Cameroon are of the view that the European Union’s Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) are against the national interest, and such agreements will only create unemployment. They add that the national economy is not ready for EPAs.

Most states in Asia like Indonesia that were not completely ready for free trade and that were not even at the current level of development of African economies have seen some progress in economic development because of free trade and economic partnerships. If we take India for example, they even opted for a unilateral opening to economic partnerships with states in the West without reciprocity from the other.
What matters in trade openness is not having the same economic advatage as partners, but to improve its gain relative to the initial situation. By design and default, other states especially European states are far more advanced than Cameroon in terms of resources and it makes sense, as long as they respect the rules of fair free trade.

According to an inteview accorded in late 2015 to Louis Paul Motaze the Minister of the Economy and Regional Planning, EPAS will permit Cameroon import at lower prices equipment which so far are too costly to import, the more competitive the country gets. According to Motaze, another advatage of Cameroon adhering to EPAs is that this will help open her markets. Cameroon has goods and services to sell to Europeans and the European Union is offering Cameroon a chance to open its market with no quota imposed. Considering this, the major problem Cameroon now faces is production which might be insufficient despite markets being opened to the country. Free trade will reduce the costs of local exporters and thus enhance their competitiveness. With free trade, Cameroon will have cheaper imports, thus export cheaper, so more market share in the global market.

The American firm Frontier Strategy Group published, during the month of February 2015, its ranking of the resilience of countries to external shocks. According to Frontier Strategy Group, Cameroon occupies the 21st position in Sub Saharan Africa. The country is above all number one in the CEMAC zone (a six member community comprising Cameroon, Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Chad and Central Africa) in this ranking ahead of Gabon (24th). Some other strengths include vast agricultural land apart from oil production. The country is blessed with vast hectres of forests.

Critics often advance the argument that doing business with partners who have an added advantage over Cameroon will not be beneficial to the Cameroonian economy. This assertion can remain true if only Cameroonian public and private actors called upon to carry out transactions under the EPAs remain dormant rather than become more comeptitive with thier European partners.

Taking advantage of free trade, does not always necessary mean we must have an absolute comparative advantage over other states with whom we are doing business with. The country can make progress as these transactions are being carried out. South Korea had a comparative advantage in rice, but thanks to its openness to free trade has managed to build its comparative advantage in high value technology products. This is a scenario Cameroon has to copy. Cameroon produces cash crops like cocoa and rubber. At the same time Cameroon has raw materials like iron ore, uranium which can give the country added advantage if well exploited and utilised.

Cameroon is the 114th most competitive economy in the world, out of 140 countries assessed by the World Economic Forum (WEF). The country moves up two places compared to last year, but still comes behind Gabon (103rd), first Central African nation in this ranking 2015-2016. However, the WEF emphasizes, that Cameroon is 10 places ahead of Nigeria (124th), the leading economy on the continent. This equally makes Cameroon ready for EPAs with Europe.

There are several ways Cameroon can meet the challenge of competitiveness, not just by possessing a great natural resource base or a large workforce. By investing in human capital, industralisation and innovation, Cameroon can develop comparative economic advantage which will allow the country to sell on the international market at competitive prices. The country can also exploit the economies of scale related to regional integration, for example to bring out competitive companies.

The argument that EPAs will destroy jobs and local industries, is a façade to protect businesses and industries which have always enjoyed healthy profits thanks to state protectionism. And there is no morality to this especially as poor consumers continue to pay to maintain artificial industries in place. The state cannot continue to subsidize businesses and economic operations with taxpayers money whereas there is an opportunity to take advantage of the EPAs.

All the same issues like corruption needs to be addressed for Cameroon to adequately benefit from EPAs with Europe. The American think-tank Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal recently published the 2016 ranking of the economic freedom index in the world, which measures economic freedom in countries since 1995, using criteria such as protection of property rights, the size of the state, budgetary and monetary policy and the fight against corruption. Out of a ranking of 178, Cameroon is positioned 29th in Africa and 130th in the world. When you have too many regulations (lack of economic freedom), companies face additional burdens and costs of transactions, undermining their competitiveness in the end. Corruption too, is a symptom of too much government intervention, so less freedom of choice for households and businesses. Therefore, with corruption, businesses pay bribes, additional expenses instead of investing them. The result is low competitiveness.

In conclusion, for Cameroon to benefit from the EPAs, the government should properly negotiate contracts with the EU. It is also germane for Europe to respect the principle of free trade by stopping subsidies to producers thus encouraging protectionism disguised as non-tariff barriers especially with respect to sanitary and phytosanitary standards, as well as environmental standards.

This article is originally published in the French language at Libreafrique.org

 

Tags: ,

The future of e commerce in Africa, by Chofor Che


On the 24th of May to the 5th of June 2015, Tunisia will be hosting a conference on the importance of the internet, especially in doing business in Africa. It happens that Africa especially states in the Central African region have not adequately taken advantage of opportunities offered to them by the internet especially in e commerce and doing business online. Why is Africa still lagging behind in the e commerce sector? Is it a problem of inadequacy of legislation governing the sector? Is it a problem of inadequate infrastructure? Is it a problem of the actors involved in the sector?

A report was aired over the TV channel, Africa 24 on the 6th of March 2015 during which the Director of the group named World Wide Worx attested that poor infrastructure remains a disturbing factor contributing to the continent’s lagging behind in the e commerce sector. According to Director General of Jumia, Nigeria, Fatoumatou Bah of Sengal, distribution of internet devices remains low, thus those in need of the services which will make them partake actively in e commerce do not have access to these facilities. According to Fatoumatou, there is just 40 percent penetration access to internet in Kenya. In the whole of Africa the penetration is just 7 percent.

Government bureaucracy has equally led a lot of corruption in the e commerce sector. Most African states do not have adequate constitutional and legislative protection for investors and consumers in the e commerce sector. With such a scenario it is difficult to guarantee investors that their interests will be protected. In this same regard in an eventuality of conflict of interest between investors and consumers in the e commerce sector, there remain inadequate protective and preventive measures for both parties.

African states have not done enough to bring on board private actors into the sector. Apart from states like South Africa that give private actors the importance they deserve as equal investors and partners in e commerce, private actors in other states are considered more as secondary and tertiary actors while big governments remain the primary actors in the sector.

Cyber criminality remains a great cankerworm in the e commerce sector. Scammers keep on developing sophisticated methods to hack into accounts and online transactions. The continent is still to boast of adequate experts who can assist states in curbing the ills of cyber criminality, thus furnishing safety nets for online transactions especially the use of credit cards for effecting payments.

There equally remains the problem of accessing concrete information on the portfolio of online business persons. This puts consumers in a fix especially as transparency remains an issue. With such loop holes, e commerce will remain timid on the continent.

African states need to therefore do more to bring on board private actors into the e commerce sector. There is no gain saying that states in the Central African Region like Cameroon, Chad, the Central African Republic and Gabon lag behind in encouraging state and private sector partnerships in the e commerce sector. This position is corroborated by the World Bank’s Doing Business Report of 2014. States especially in the Central African region like Cameroon, Chad and Gabon thus need to give more importance to private actors as primary actors and not secondary and tertiary actors as is the case. Additionally, there is equally the need to curb government bureaucracy which would definitely curb corruption in the e commerce sector.

Most African states need to also have adequate legislation with respect to the e commerce sector. State constitutions in Africa as well as legislation need to be clear on protective measures for consumers and investors in the e commerce sector. With such constitutional and legislative protection the interests of both consumers and investors will be guaranteed. Constitutional and legislative protections will also go a long way to solve issues evolving around conflict of interest between investors and consumers in the e commerce sector.

African states need to give more attention to training experts in cyber criminality. Apart from having a pool of experts in cyber criminality it is equally important to train forces of law and order, administrative officers, magistrates and lawyers on cyber criminality. The availability of experts in cyber criminality will go a long way to assist states in curbing the ills of cyber criminality, thus furnishing safety nets for online transactions especially the use of credit cards for effecting payments.

The state needs to equally partner with the private sector to verify online information of both investors and consumers in the e commerce sector. This will go a long way to strengthen transparency in the e commerce sector.

Chofor Che is an integral part of the Africanliberty’s Voice of Liberty initiative. He is also an analyst at LibreAfrique.org and Audace Institute Afrique . This article was originally published at LibreAfrique.org on 27 March 2015. He is also blogs at https://choforche.wordpress.com/

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 28, 2015 in Africa Development

 

Tags: , ,

The African Union’s illusory quest for financial independence by Asanji Burnley and Chofor Che, published at Africanliberty.org , 15 February 2015


In an op-ed by Gulfnews.com dated the 1 of February 2015, African leaders teamed up in Addis Ababa the capital of Ethiopia in a bid to seek for solutions for an independent African Union (AU). After a two-day summit which took place at the AU’s headquarters ironically built by the Chinese, African leaders proposed new taxes on hotel stays and airline tickets in a bid to finance the AU. Analysts estimate that this move would raise about $730 million dollars a year. AU officials are also optimistic that an additional half-a-cent tax on SMS exchanges would bring in $1.6 billion. They are hoping to see the AU finance its projects and operations to the tune of 65 per cent by 2016. The AU has for long now depended on financial assistance from the West to accomplish missions on the continent, reason why this international body has been faced with a lot of criticisms. Though it is imperative for the AU to be financially independent, one begins to wonder if the right move to financial independence is by imposing heavy taxes on improvised African citizens.

Gulfnews.com opines that the AU was once seriously financed by assassinated Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who was bent in making this institution an opponent to Western dominance. Presently, the AU which is made up of 54 member states gets only 28 per cent of its half-billion dollar operational budget from these members. 72 per cent of the AU’s operational budget is obtained from international donors especially from the European Union (EU), the World Bank, China, Turkey and the United States of America (USA).

Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe, notorious for his ‘tug of war’ with the West, and who is currently the AU’s chair observed that “Over 70 per cent of our budget is foreign funded. This is not sustainable,” This position was corroborated by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who has also been involved in a brawl with the West after being charged by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity. President Uhuru Kenyatta added that dependence on foreign financing was a “profound handicap and an impediment to the continent’s momentum”. According to Kenyan President, it is time for Africa to affirm “its independence and sovereignty more robustly”.

AU analysts argue that a financially viable AU would make this institution administratively and financially dependent. Major donors like Egypt and Libya would not have to chip in huge amounts of money for the running of AU projects and operations. Pan-African Youth Union (PYU) leader adds that the AU would thus be in a better position to make strategic and speedy decisions. He adds that “In case of emergencies like Ebola, we need to have the means to intervene quickly and without having to wait for foreign money. Money from donors always comes with strings attached.”

It is thus a laudable idea for African leaders to make the AU financially independent, but the truth is that such a plan remains an illusion for several reasons. Although African leaders have agreed to this ambitious plan, deducting these taxes is not a matter of right but voluntary. What most member states would do is to impose heavy taxes on visitors and citizens. Besides this worry not all member states will adhere to this new measure. For several years now several African states have not been able to furnish financial nor material support to the running and functioning of the AU reason why this institution has shamefully depended on foreign assistance.
Member states must seek for a holistic approach to making the AU financially viable. Charity begins at home so African states must speed up their industrialization process and infrastructure development to attract more businesses and thus more money. The private sector needs to be revamped in all African states which may would also reduce unemployment and boost African economies speedily. African states cannot continue to neglect the agricultural sector and focus more on the mineral sectors.

African governments have to also stop illicit financial flows which is really crippling African economies, despite the much talked about African renaissance. The money the continent loses can indeed make the AU financially independent rather than relying on foreign assistance and taxes.

Asanji Burnley is a Cameroonian diplomat by training and Masters Graduate from the International Relations Institute of Cameroon (IRIC). He is also co-founder of the Cameroon based Central African Centre for Libertarian Thought and Action (CACLiTA). In 2015 he was unanimously voted as President of this newly created think tank which advocates for limited government and free markets particularly in the central African region.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 17, 2015 in Africa Development, African Union

 

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

Tackling the urbanisation quagmire in the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, by Chofor Che, published in French at LibreAfrique.org, 31 October 2014


The Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (or CEMAC from its name in French: Communauté Économique et Monétaire de l’Afrique Centrale,) is an organization of states of Central Africa established by Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon to promote economic integration among countries that share a common currency, the CFA franc. CEMAC’s objectives are the promotion of trade, the institution of a genuine common market, and greater solidarity among peoples and towards under-privileged countries and regions

There is no gainsaying that CEMAC states face a growing urbanisation problem especially as the United Nations Habitat (UN Habitat) Chief recently predicted that in ten years to come, capital cities like Yaoundé in Cameroon would not be able to contain the growing population. Some states like Cameroon, in partnership with UN Habitat, have even held a national summit like the National Urbanisation Summit, which took place in October 2014 in a bid to redress the growing urbanisation challenges in the state. Does it suffice to keep on holding such summits? Is the affair of tackling growing challenges of urbanisation in the CEMAC region an affair solely for big governments?

Prior to independence most African states including states in the CEMAC region did not have adequate urbanisation plans especially for the capital cities. Most of the towns especially in the CEMAC zone were built without adequate urban planning. In addition to this lacuna most government leaders especially in CEMAC states like Cameroon, Gabon and Chad did not see the necessity to upgrade major cities not to talk about smaller towns. This predicament has started catching up on these states which has triggered the need for brain storming.

In addition to the poor urbanisation planning, the decentralisation process which states like Cameroon, Chad and Gabon embarked on remains timid. Mayors complain on a daily basis of difficulties for them to adequately engage in urbanisation efforts in their various municipalities because the transfer of human and financial resources from central governments remains timid. During the last National Decentralisation Council which took place in Cameroon in September 2014, the Prime Minister, Head of Government re-echoed the need for various government ministers to ensure that human and financial resources are expeditiously transferred to councils all over the country. This position was buttressed upon by the Minister of Urbanisation of Cameroon, Jean Claude Mbwentchou during a programme on the 20 October 2014 broadcast on Cameroon Radio Television Broadcasting Corporation, CRTV.

Indeed the challenges facing urbanisation in the CEMAC region are humongous as expounded above. A start off point in redressing this melee may be to ensure that cities in CEMAC states have an adequate urbanisation plan which will entail redesigning most states in the CEMAC region. Redesigning cities does not mean individual rights should be trampled upon. Most individuals have obtained land and built in conformity with state rules and regulations. It would thus be prudent for states to work hand in glove with concerned populations before destroying property of innocent citizens. States in the CEMAC zone can learn from durable measures in tacking urbanisation challenges like Rabat in Morocco and Durban in South Africa. In Rabat for instance the town has been restructured in such a way that in the next ten years the growing population would be easily accommodated. The state of Morocco in partnership with individuals and business persons has created nearby residential areas very close to Rabat, so as to cater for the growing accommodation dilemma facing Rabat. A tramp system which is eco friendly has also been created in the city to decongest traffic and make inhabitants have quick access to the city.
Accelerating the decentralisation process is also germane in redressing the urbanisation quagmire in the CEMAC zone. There is thus need for central governments in the CEMAC zone to accelerate the transfer of adequate human and financial resources to councils so as to enable the Mayors and their collaborators restructure their communities. For such an endeavour to be successful there is also need for professionalisation of actors engaged in the urbanisation process, be it at the central, regional or local levels. These officials must be trained on state of the art urbanisation processes as well as to manage finances without getting involved in corrupt practices. It may also be important to ensure that lead roles are accorded to women in urbanisation planning in the CEMAC zone.

If such measures are taken into consideration, rather than holding workshops and summits, then tackling the urbanisation quagmire in the CEMAC zone may be sustainably attainable. A lot of tax payers’ money would thus be used judiciously for a durable and sustainable cause.

This article is published in French at http://www.libreafrique.org/ as CEMAC : Sortir du bourbier de l’urbanisation anarchique

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 31, 2014 in Africa Development

 

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

An argument for national unity and the preservation of diversity against secession for African states, by Chofor Che


There has been a wave of secessionist tendencies in the world and particularly in Africa prior to independence. Some good examples in Africa include the case of Anglophone and Francophone Cameroon which is an ongoing predicament. Another example is the case of Zanzibar and Tanzania which is under scrutiny by the government of Tanzania. Other examples in Europe include the case of the United Kingdom and Spain. Judging from cases like the chaos which has befallen South Sudan after it seceded from Sudan, the question is should Africans continue to clamor for secession or independence rather than find ways to strengthen national unity and diversity? Are there any alternatives to secession which African states should consider?

There is no gainsaying that the issue of secession seems to be en vogue. Recently Great Britain was almost at the brink of secession when Scotland attempted to break away from the union. Had it not been for the verdict of the referendum of the 18 of September 2014 which saw a majority of Scottish voters say ‘No’ to secession, Scotland would have been an independent state.

The issue of secession is also a hot debate in Spain. Section 2 of the 1978 Constitution suggests that the Spanish Constitution is instituted upon the ‘indissoluble unity of the Spanish nation, the common and indivisible patria of all Spaniards, and guarantees the right to self-determination of the nationalities and regions of which it is composed and the solidarity among them all.’ This has led some scholars to argue that the Spanish Constitution falls short in allowing for national diversity in the case of Spain, because it allows for self determination which to some extent gives room for secession. Presently the Catalonians are using the aspect of self determination as a way to break away from Spain. They claim to be suffering from discrimination when it comes to access to jobs, natural resources and business opportunities. Other authors argue that self determination may not necessary mean secession, but rather a clamor for a more decentralized or federal system of government.

Secession seems to presume that disgruntled groups within a state want to break away, and form their own state. Yet it is not at all clear if secession is the priority of all communities. According to experts like University of the Western Cape (UWC) Associate Professor of Law, Yonatan Fessha, separation may only be a suitable option after investigating on other possibilities and only if there is no possibility of co-existence between different groups in the state. It is therefore agreed that secession should only be considered as the final resort and not the primary option where linguistic and ethnic groups cannot be accommodated in a state.

In the cases of Cameroon and Tanzania respectively major reasons why Anglophone Cameroonians and the people of Zanzibar want to secede is because there is some aura of discrimination which persists against these people in these various states. The distribution of jobs, natural resources, educational opportunities and business opportunities is inequitable.

In the case of Kevin Mgwanga Gunme et al v Cameroon before the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Commission), brought in 2003 by the Southern Cameroon National Council (SCNC), an Anglophone Cameroon based pressure group fighting for secession on grounds of marginalization, the SCNC argued that the Republic of Cameroon was an extension of French colonisation. They added that Anglophone Cameroonians did not benefit politically and socio-economically from this union. At the 45th Ordinary Session held in Banjul, The Gambia, between 13 and 27 May 2009, the African Commission adopted the decision on the merits of the communication. The claim for secession was rejected by the African Commission especially on mainly procedural grounds that the applicant was not a legally recognised group fighting for the interests of all Anglophone Cameroonians. However, secession remains a real problem in Cameroon despite the verdict of the African Commission, as the SCNC in Cameroon has not accomplished its aim.

An example where secession has turned out to be catastrophic for national unity and diversity is the case of Sudan and Southern Sudan. Ever since Southern Sudan broke away from Sudan there has been turmoil and bloodshed. Property and families have been lost.

A probable alternative for secession may thus be to give more political and socio-economic rights to the disadvantaged group or groups in a state. This must not be at the detriment of individual rights especially as individuals must be allowed to own property, trade and circulate freely.

Authors like Professor Nico Steytler and Professor Jaap de Visser of the Community Law Centre at UWC argue that adequate decentralization to local government may be a great alternative rather than secession. This would warrant giving more financial and administrative autonomy via various national constitutions, to local government especially to disadvantaged groups. Professor Steytler also argues that a federal system of government can go a long way to protect unity and diversity. Adequate decentralization and federalism may thus be alternatives to secession. Such systems of governance allow disadvantaged groups in a state partake equitably in the opportunities found therein, if rightly applied by various central governments.

This article is originally published at LibreAfrique.org as Afrique : Quelle alternative à la sécession des États ?

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 19, 2014 in Africa Development

 

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

 
%d bloggers like this: