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Ritual killings in Cameroon’s political capital for big government and political positions?, By Chofor Che, 24 January 2013


The political capital of Cameroon, Yaoundé, specifically the neighbourhood called Mimboman, has been hit since December 2012, by a number of deaths of young girls aged 15 to 25. Many have concluded that these deaths are ritual killings especially as the young girls died in similar circumstances, with their sexual organs missing.

Perplexed by such mysterious acts especially at the beginning of an electoral year, a prominent journalist and specialist on supernatural happenings, Begnono Bengono was interviewed on national television, Cameroon’s Radio and Television network. Bengono asserted that this is not a strange phenomenon in Cameroon. According to him, during every electoral year in Cameroon, young people die. It is believed that certain parts of their bodies are used for rituals to enable politicians remain in power or win elections.

Cameroon will host municipal and legislative elections this year. Many government big guns are visiting soothsayers so as to remain in power. This view was corroborated by Dr Ateba Ayene, outspoken member of the Central Committee of the ruling political party in Cameroon, the Cameroon Peoples’ Democratic Movement. According to Ateba, who was recently interviewed over a private television network, Canal2, such acts are demonic acts and contribute to the degradation of the fabric of society.

Forces of law and order have been carrying out investigations on these killings. It is disturbing to know that this neighbourhood is cut off from other neighbourhoods in the nation’s capital, especially as it has no good roads, it is plagued by water and electricity shortages, and it has no police station. The population of Mimboman remains in disarray and fear.

The case of Mimboman in Yaoundé is a vivid example of the consequences of big government especially in Africa. The State in Cameroon is a preferred means by which certain individuals enrich themselves at the detriment of others. Some individuals even go an extra mile to adhere to demands from soothsayers just to remain in power.

African states especially the government of Cameroon need to revisit the raison d’etre of the state. One of the major duties of the state is to ensure that the citizens are safe and sound. It is unbelievable that there is no police station in this area of the city. Action needs to be taken by the authorities that be, to ensure that the population of Mimboman is safe.

Roads as well as power and water are important requirements for life. The population of Mimboman lack these facilities. There is a local council in this area, which has remained dormant for a long-time due to the fact that funds meant for development do not trickle down from the central government to the local government in Mimboman. There is need for the central government to give a chance for communities to develop by ensuring that funds meant for development are judiciously utilised.

If the idea of limited government is inculcated in Cameroonians and they are encouraged to be business orientated, then there will be no need for such outrageous crimes. Of course, the idea of limited government must be beafed up with action. It is important for the state to give room for the private sector to thrive. The private sector in Africa in general and Cameroon still suffers enormously from government cohesion, making many Cameroonians to find solace in politics and government positions. If Cameroon needs to contribute to Africa’s renaissance, then it is time not only for a mind-set change, but concrete action on the ground.

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Recovering Africa’s swindled assets from foreign bank accounts: A daunting task or just bad faith?, By Chofor Che, 07 January 2013


In November 2012, the government of Tanzania asked the World Bank for support to help recover billions of shillings the state has lost via corruption by prominent politicians and statesmen. Tanzania is not the only African state with such a serious problem. Other Central African states like Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo are also plagued with the same dilemma.
The leader of the official opposition in Tanzania’s National Assembly, Mr Freeman Mbowe, attested in November that the state had made very little progress in recovering funds hoarded in foreign bank accounts by prominent personalities. According to Mr Mbowe it was therefore high time the state sought for assistance from the Asset Recovery Unit of the World Bank to recover the funds.
“Tanzania has lost billions of shillings through illegal financial flows out of her borders. We have not been able to successfully recover stolen assets. Why can’t we engage global partners to help recover the assets?” asserted Mr Mbowe.
Corrupt individuals, including prominent business tycoons and some top ranking government officials in Africa, continue to secretly stash away tax payers’ money in foreign bank accounts. Following a report from Tanzania Daily News, more than 315.5bn shillings ($196.87 million), has been stashed in Swiss banks.
Following a report released by the Swiss central bank, Swiss National Bank in June, this year, Tanzania is among eleven African states whose nationals have secretly stashed away millions of dollars in the country’s banks. Other states involved in such malpractices include Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria and Gabon. This explains why African states continue to appear among the most corrupt countries in the World.
Mr Mbowe was bitter on why the Prime Minister of Tanzania was unable to make public the names of individuals involved in malpractices of such calibre. Mr Mbowe asserted that a number of disloyal businessmen, have siphoned shillings to tax haven states including Luxemburg, Dubai, Mauritius Grenada, Switzerland and British Virgin Island. The central government of Tanzania claims that it is still probing into the scandal and once investigations are finalised, findings would be made public and measures will be taken against corrupt officials.
It is time for central governments in Africa to rethink strategies on bringing to book corrupt officials who continue to swindle tax payers’ money and stash abroad. Money illegally stashed abroad has only made recipient states wealthy and impoverished African states in particular. The World Bank has an Asset Recovery unit, and one of the major duties of this unit is to assist states repatriate stolen funds stashed in foreign bank accounts. If the World Bank truly wants to assist African states in eradicating poverty and advancing development as it claims, then it is high time for this bank to stop playing the devil’s advocate and assist African states repatriate these funds. A lot of legal and transparency measures need to be put in place to ensure that repatriation measures are effective. It does not only suffice to rank African states as the most corrupt states in the world, especially as central governments in Africa partner with deceitful banks in the West to contribute to Africa’s dilemma. The West needs to assist Africa in repatriating ill-gotten funds stashed in foreign bank accounts.

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Africa Diaspora Roundtable, World Bank 19 September 2012, [posted 12 September 2012]


Theme: The Role of the African Diaspora in Transforming Business in Africa

Venue: The World Bank, 1850 Street, N.W. Washington, D.C.
Meeting  Room 2-220

Date: Wednesday, September 19, 2012

2:00pm-2:30pm: Opening Remarks By: Colin Bruce, Director for Strategy and Operations – Africa Region at the World Bank

2:30pm-3:45pm: ‘Discussion of the African Diaspora Marketplace as an Africa Union Legacy Project’

Moderator: David J. Saunders, Managing Director, Constituency for Africa.

Discussion of the success of the African Diaspora Marketplace (ADM) Initiative and perspectives on the way forward with strategies for engaging and empowering the African Diaspora.

Panelists: Dr. Frannie Leautier, Executive Director, African Capacity Building Foundation, Alex Dixon, Vice President for Africa, Small Enterprise Assistance Fund; Alexandre Laure, Junior Professional Officer, Private Sector Development at the World Bank; and Romi Batia, Diaspora Outreach Manager, US Agency for International Development.

3:45pm-4:30pm: Group Discussion Session: David J. Saunders as the moderator

Discussion on innovative ways to expand opportunities with the African Diaspora Marketplace Initiative throughout the African Diaspora.

4:30pm-4:50pm: Conclusions and Next Steps: David J. Saunders.

4:50pm-5:00pm: Closing Remarks By: Melvin P. Foote, President  & CEO, Constituency for Africa.

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Africa Investment Potential: Need for Sound Public Policy, By James Shikwati, Director of Inter Region Economic Network, Kenya.


The rise of the middle class and the increase of wealth in private hands in Africa signal great opportunities for growth for the continent and investors. Merrill Lynch and Capgemini consultants indicate that the continent has 100,000 Africans with USD 1 million to invest. Africa’s momentum towards productivity calls for enactment of sound public policies.

In the beverages sector; Diageo Plc, one of the oldest investors on the continent, sees the increased number of Africans with money to spend as a great opportunity for growth. It made the largest single investment in Ethiopia by a British entity with its acquisition of Meta Brewery and in Nigeria under Guinness Nigeria Plc made a USD 359 Million investment in 2011. In the last 5 years alone, Diageo has invested over USD 1.6 billion in Capex and acquisitions in Africa. The British alcoholic beverages giant first landed its Guinness beer in Sierra Leone in 1827. Heineken B.V. acquired 2 breweries in Nigeria in 2011; SABMiller entered a strategic alliance in 2001 with Castel Group and bought 20% stake in Paris-based group’s beer and soft drinks operations in Africa. Global giants are not the only ones who have sensed growth opportunities on the continent, African investors have taken proactive steps to tap into the emerging growth trends.

Nigeria, a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was one of the leading investors in Ghana last year. Nigerian owned companies invested USD 1.5 billion in Ghana’s economy. In the East African Community (EAC), the retail sector has taken the lead. Kenyan owned Nakumatt supermarket has invested in three East African countries (Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda) while Uchumi Supermarket has invested in Uganda and Tanzania. South Africa based supermarkets take the lead in driving intra Africa FDI through their leading chains such as Shoprite (in 16 African countries) and Pick’n Pay (in 5 African countries).

In Africa,  the term “investor” which was once attributed to foreigners from the West and Asia has gained a new meaning. An estimated 90% of Africa’s investment promotion agencies target FDI from their regions on the continent. Africa’s 313 million middle class population (34% of the population) that spend USD 2 – 20 per day have presented a new set of demands triggering an investments growth momentum.

According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) World Investment Report of 2006, intra-regional investment flows within Africa amounted to an estimated USD 2 billion annually in 2002 – 2004; USD 1.6 billion during 2005 – 2007; and hit USD 6 billion in 2007. Intra-regional investments are mainly driven from North and South Africa with East and West African countries as recent players.

Countries that have recorded significant interest in free trade area initiatives have citizens engaged in cross border investments. The African Union ministers of trade that met in Rwanda in 2010 pointed at the significant progress towards regional free trade in 4 out of Africa’s 8 Regional Economic Communities namely: the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA); East African Community (EAC); Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Time is ripe for Africa to consider sound public policy elements and involve investors in continental policy formulation. Public policy elements include strategic offer of incentives to achieve desired targets. Such incentives include custom duties exemption for plants, machinery, graduated and reasonable corporate taxes and tax holidays, relief from double taxation, and location incentives through tax rebates for manufacturing companies.  Additional policy elements include fair competition (rule of law and not rule of man); long term impact of decisions to all people (not to serve interest groups at expense of the public); people freedoms (to uphold standards, safety and individual liberty) and strong government as a facilitator of good business environment (transparent regulatory framework).

It is important that African policy makers seize the momentum created by intra African investors and invite them on the table to share their challenges and solutions. African integration plans driven by the 1980 Lagos Plan of Action, the 1991 African Economic Treaty and the 2000 Constitutive Act of the African Union are largely driven by politicians and bureaucrats. Africa is not short of policies. However, they have always been viewed to be externally driven. Past experience with the World Bank’s Structural Adjustment Policies (SAPs) that reportedly increased external dependency and structural weaknesses in Africa’s economies previously made Africans skeptical. This is Africa’s moment to take charge.

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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