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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.

– See more at: http://www.africanliberty.org/content/french-support-civil-societies-cameroon-impediment-development-chofor-che#sthash.7hdRZEcg.dpuf

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2013 in Africa Development

 

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Mali’s dilemma and French intervention: Aid with strings or ‘the messiah’? By Chofor Che,14 January 2013


African states remain fragile despite much praise of Africa having the emerging economies in the world. Having emerging economies in an atmosphere of conflict is bad for development. Many a time when African states are hit by conflict, western nations step in to intervene. There has been a lot of debate about foreign intervention in African conflicts. Is the west assisting because of interest or they care about peace, democracy, good governance and development in Africa?

An African state which has been recently plagued by conflict, and is benefiting from foreign intervention especially from France is Mali. Mali is a vast, landlocked state situated in the Sahara Desert and whose borders touch Algeria to the north and Ivory Coast to the south, linking North Africa with sub-Saharan Africa. Mali also borders Senegal, Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Guinea. Mali’s north is currently under the rule of radical Islamists, whereas the weak central government is in the country’s south.

Conflict broke out in Mali and the state cried out for assistance especially from the west.Mali slid into dictatorship after gaining independence from France in 1960, but then a 1991 coup led to elections the next year. Mali’s then-president stepped down after the maximum two-term limit and Amadou Toumani Toure, known as ATT, was peacefully elected in 2002.

Toure was just months away from the end of his term when mutinous soldiers overthrew him in a coup in March 2012. The coup leader nominally handed over power to a weak, interim civilian government but is widely believed to still be controlling the country. The turmoil has left Mali’s military in disarray, raising questions about how helpful Malian soldiers can be during the French-led intervention.

In as much as assistance from the west especially France is welcome in trying to curb the conflict in Mali, such intervention is not a sign of love for Africa. Of course such assistance comes with strings. According to Krista Larson of the Associated Press, the country’s third-largest export after cotton and livestock is gold. There is definitely some interest in the west benefiting from this resource.

The African Union has still proven to be a toothless bulldog with respect to this conflict. The African Union proved to be ineffective during the Libyan crises and allowed the west to dominate peace efforts. Libya remains in a critical situation despite foreign intervention to instill so called ‘democracy’. This same scenario will play out in Mali.

The continent of Africa needs to take a drastic stand via institutions and actors especially the African Union, in ensuring that leaders are accountable to the people and there is participatory development. One of the root causes of conflict is because the people are usually not given a chance to participate in government affairs via concrete measures like decentralisation and/or federalism. Such is the case of Mali. If Africa wants to conveniently harbour the acclaimed emerging economies in the world, then we need truely democratic states. Africa, especially francophone Africa cannot always rely on France especially to curb conflicts, because instead of curbing these conflicts, the west continues to encourage weak states in Africa.

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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