Monthly Archives: August 2013

French support to civil societies in Cameroon: An impediment to development, 27 August 2013, By Chofor Che

Cameroon is one of the states in Africa that continues to receive financial assistance from the West. Cameroon’s civil society has benefitted financially from the West, but remains one of the weakest on the continent. Following an article by Cameroon Tribune dated August 20, 2013, France recently opted to support civil society organisations in Cameroon. For the next three years, France has earmarked 260 million francs to fund initiatives in the areas of health, environment, democratic governance and human rights. Such initiatives are to be funded via France’s newly established Support Fund for Civil Society in the South (support fund). A memorandum of understanding was thus signed on 19 August 2013 between the Minister of Economic and Regional Development and Planning (MINEPAT), Emmanuel Nganou Djoumessi and the French Ambassador to Cameroon, Bruno Gain.

A call for proposals will be launched by the end of August 2013 by the Department of Cooperation and Cultural Action of the French Embassy to support eligible candidates who are to benefit from the newly created support fund. As stressed by Bruno Gain, special attention will be given to projects in the Far North, North and Adamawa regions, especially as these regions are mostly hit by natural disasters. The support fund replaces the Social Fund for Development which has been operational in Cameroon since 1996. Cameroon is one of four countries including the Republic of Congo, Togo and Guinea benefitting from this initiative.

The aim of this special fund is to improve the living conditions of Cameroonians. According to Cameroon Tribune, since 2005, France has contributed a total of about $ 948 million to finance eligible civil society projects in Cameroon. Despite the humongous amounts of money pumped in by France into Cameroon, the state’s civil society remains one of the weakest on the continent. The central government is well aware that Cameroon’s civil society is a weak one and has done nothing to encourage this weak civil society. The truth is that dubious means are going to be put in place by corrupt government officials to swindle the money from France. As has been done in the past, corrupt government officials will create fictitious civil society organisations and embezzle the finances meant to revamp Cameroon’s civil society.

It is thus clear that such assistance from France is an impediment to growth and development in Africa and Cameroon in particular. Cameroon’s civil society does not need such assistance. What needs to be done by the international community and France especially is to put pressure on central governments on the continent and Cameroon in particular to create an enabling atmosphere for more jobs. France and other Western states need to encourage Cameroon’s central government to improve on its infrastructure and technology. Small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) especially those run by women and the youth need to be revamped via private and government partnerships. More Cameroonians need to be employed in the extractive industries. It does not suffice for foreign multinationals to rip the state of its natural resources while nationals languish in poverty. These issues are more important to the state’s development than dubious grants that will end up in the foreign bank accounts of corrupt civil servants.

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Posted by on August 27, 2013 in Africa Development


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Prospects for the creation of a common currency zone for ECOWAS – By Chofor Che, 13 August 2013

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) known in French as Communauté économique des États de l’Afrique de l’Ouest, (CEDEAO) is a sub regional grouping of fifteen West African states. Member states include Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo. According to Wikipedia lastly modified on 5 August 2013, Cape Verde joined ECOWAS in 1976, and in December 2000 Mauritania withdrew, having announced its intention to do so in December 1999.

ECOWAS was created on 28 May 1975, with the signing of the Treaty of Lagos. Its mission is to promote and facilitate economic integration across the sub region. ECOWAS which makes use of three official languages, French, English, and Portuguese, also plays an important role in peace keeping operations.

Being a very important pillar of the African Economic Community, ECOWAS was created in order to make its member states economically and financially self sufficient especially with the creation of a single large trading bloc. Despite such intentions the sub regional grouping seems not to have met these intentions.

ECOWAS is made up of two institutions to assist it in policy implementation -the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development, formerly called the Fund for Cooperation until it was renamed in 2001 and the ECOWAS Commission.

Some members of ECOWAS have organised meetings in a bid to strengthen the sub regional grouping. The 44th meeting for governors of the central banks of member states of ECOWAS took place on Friday the 26 July 2013 in Accra Ghana. During this meeting, several issues including the need for a common currency zone of the Economic Community for West African States were discussed upon by Head of states of these member states.

In line with an article published on Éclair d’ dated the 12 August 2013, Mr. Tiémoko Meyliet Koné governor of the Central Bank of West African states who presided over this reunion acknowledged the lack of macro economic momentum which exists between member states of ECOWAS and the need to have a unique monetary zone to bridge this gap. He remarked that a lack of a single currency makes it difficult for member states to effectively monitor their economic progress in the sub region.

In the ECOWAS sub region, various currencies are in use creating a sub region plagued by an unstable currency cacophony. In Ghana the cedi is utilised, in Nigeria the Naira is in use, the Leone is used in Sierra Leone, the dalasi used in the Gambia, the Liberian Dollar in Liberia, the Escudo in Cape Verde and the franc guinéen in Guinea.

It is indeed a wonderful idea to converge in a bid to have a single currency for the sub region. Having various currencies in the sub region is indeed an impediment to sub regional integration and economic growth. A single currency for ECOWAS states as well as a reduction in trade barriers will go a long way in boosting the economies of member states and the sub region as a whole. All the same there remain concerns as to such a dream attaining fruition. France which still has a strong grip on some of the member states in Africa and especially in this sub region has always decided on the economic and financial atmosphere of some of these states and thus benefits enormously from the cacophony that exist in the sub region. With this state of affairs it may be a daunting task for ECOWAS top executives to make such a move as to having a single currency. Despite such concerns it is time for ECOWAS to take the bold step and create a single currency so as to propel the sub region forward. Such moves may revamp the economies of member states, the sub region and catapult the continent towards a quicker renaissance.

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Posted by on August 13, 2013 in Africa Development


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Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: Call for an African Union resolution on the use of drones in Africa

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: Call for an African Union resolution on the use of drones in Africa.



Challenges in revamping Africa’s Small and Medium Size Enterprises, By Chofor Che, 5 August 2013

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) happen to be companies whose personnel numbers fall below certain limits. The acronym ‘SME’ is utilised by African states, as well as international organisations like the United Nations, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization (WTO). SMEs outnumber large companies by a wide margin and also employ many more people. SMEs are also said to be responsible for driving innovation and competition in many economic sectors. According to Wikipedia, The Central Bank of Nigeria defines SMEs according to asset base and number of staff employed. The criteria are an asset base between N5 million and N500 million, and a staff strength between 11 and 300 employees. In Kenya SMEs employ a maximum of 1000 people.

SMEs in Africa have long been plagued by poor management and funding challenges. Despite numerous programmes instituted by governments and international organisations like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to revamp this sector, SMEs seem to be lost in the much talked about African renaissance.

In July 2013, the African Development Bank (ADB) promised to assist SMEs in supply chains across Africa with funding worth more than $125 million. This ADB four-year programme, which includes $125 million in direct funding and an additional $3.98 million in the form of a technical assistance package, is supposed to allow banks to furnish standardised lines of credit to SMEs, with a special attention to youth and female-owned businesses.

According to an article dated the 28 July 2013 by Adam Leach of Supply Management Daily, the amount of about $3.98 million will be furnished by the Fund for African Private Sector Assistance (FAPA) and will be utilised to build the capacity and capabilities of 25 lenders to support SMEs. The contribution marks the highest amount ever donated by FAPA and is intended to broaden support for businesses into more rural areas of Africa, where there are higher numbers of youth and women-owned businesses.

An official from the ADB adds that, “In response to these challenges the ADB, through this SME programme, will provide the necessary longer-term finance and a technical assistance package to address a number of the constraints faced by around 25 target financial institutions and their SME clients across Africa.”

The ADB initiative in a laudable initiative and would be instrumental in economic growth, development and the alleviation of poverty in Africa. The only concern is that similar initiatives in the past have not yielded any fruit. SMEs in Africa continue to be poorly financed and managed. Some of the past initiatives have either been crippled by corrupt government officials and the finances misappropriated or siphoned without any traces. Poor SMEs owners, especially women and the youth, who are supposed to benefit from such programmes have not benefitted much. Many SMEs owners are left disgruntled, while corrupt officials embezzle these finances destined for them.

It is imperative for the ADB to ensure that the SMEs initiative does not remain entirely under central government control. It is imperative to make sure that the private sector as well as other independent partners also has a say especially in the financial management of this initiative. Evidently the financing from the ADB is humongous and if care is not taken, this money will be siphoned as before by corrupt African government officials. If African governments are serious about revamping SMEs in Africa and achieving some of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), if not all, by 2015, then it is important to allow for a holistic approach to development. The private sector should be brought on board not like a subordinate to government, but as an equal partner. Without such a modus operandi which is of utmost importance to economic growth and development in Africa, then the SMEs in will remain crippled.

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Posted by on August 5, 2013 in Africa Development


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Addressing Infrastructure Deficit, Key To Africa’s Development, By Okonjo-Iweala, Nigerian Observer Online, 30 July 2012

ABUJA – The Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has reiterated the need to address infrastructure deficit, in order to enhance the African economy.

Okonjo-Iweala said this while addressing a high level policy Dialogue on Infrastructure and Structural Development in Nigeria, organised by the African Development Bank, on Monday in Abuja.

“If African economies and Nigeria are to achieve the structure transformation, then infrastructure deficit must remain a priority for the next decades.

“We know that the productivity of our firms is reduced as much as 40 per cent and the region’s growth by about two per cent each year, due to the infrastructure deficit,’’ she said the minister said that there was the need to tackle the issue of governance and corruption head-on along with the diversification agenda.

She said that a World Bank survey on firms in Nigeria indicated that the greatest threat to diversification of the economy was infrastructure deficit, which stood at 53 per cent, followed by power and then corruption.

“Infrastructure comes first, access to long term finance second and corruption third. So, this shows you how they ranked the challenges we have and it makes this seminar a very important one,’’ she said Commenting on Nigeria’s plans, she said government was working on a 30-year National Integrated Infrastructure Plan (NIIP) to tackle the situation.

According to her, government will take ideas from various development partners on how to tackle infrastructure deficit in the country.

She said that while most developed countries had core infrastructure stock of about 70 per cent, Nigeria’s infrastructure stock was estimated at only 35 per cent.

This, she said, indicated a huge gap in resources needed to tackle the situation and how to meet the benchmark for countries that were more developed.

“The deficit in the power sector remains the most stock; you just need to compare us with South Africa to see where we are.

“Our per capital energy consumption is a 136 KW hours per annum, which is less than three per cent of South African per capital consumption of 4,803 kilo waltz per annum,’’ said.

She said that implementation of the NIIP would positively triple the current situation.

She called for polices that would drive social inclusion, adding that Nigeria would not want to continue to be a growing economy with Gini index going in the wrong direction.

Gini index measures the extent to which the distribution of income or consumption expenditure among individuals or households “China Gini is about 42, Nigeria 48, Brazil 55, South Africa 63 compared with Gini of 31 on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD),’’ she said.

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Posted by on August 1, 2013 in Africa Development


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BRICS bank pillars could be ready next year: Brazil, by France 24, 30 JULY 2013 – 23H26

The statutes of the new development bank planned by the BRICS group of five emerging powers could be ready next year, Brazil’s foreign minister said here Tuesday.

“We made good progress during the last meeting in Durban and the expectation is that in the 2014 meeting in Brazil, enough progress has been made to conclude the statutes of the bank,” Antonio Patriota told reporters.

He made the remarks after discussing the issue here with his South African counterpart Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.

At their March summit in the South African city of Durban, leaders of the BRICS — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — failed to launch the much-anticipated bank.

Instead of a $50 billion fund, the leaders agreed only that the initial capital contribution would be “substantial and sufficient for the bank to be effective.”

“There was an agreement to establish such a bank. Our ministries of finance are busy with the final modalities because the viability has been checked, even economists from the World Bank have come out to say there is space for such a bank,” Nkoana-Mashabane said here.

The proposed bank is meant to rival Western-dominated institutions like the World Bank.

Key sticking points included how projects would be distributed and where the bank would be based.

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Posted by on August 1, 2013 in Africa Development


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