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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

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2014 in Africa Development

 

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Translating words into action after the 4th World Congress of United Cities and Local Governments in Rabat – Chofor Che, published at Africanliberty.org 08 October 2013


The 4th World Congress of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) took place in Rabat, Morocco, from October 1 to 4, 2013 under the theme: “Imagine Society, Build Democracy.” Delegates from over 100 states around the world attended the Summit, which brought together leaders of local and regional governments, public and private sectors, international organisations, civil society and financial institutions. Was it worth the trouble bringing all these actors together?

This summit coincided with the one hundredth anniversary of the international municipal movement. It was a unique opportunity for sharing and exchange between Africa and the rest of the world. The World Summit of Local and Regional Leaders was a special event in that it was the first UCLG Summit to be held in Africa, with Rabat as the host city. It was indeed an opportunity to highlight the potential of the continent of Africa, to learn first-hand of the major democratic and local governance reforms that have been carried out in Morocco in recent years and to pay tribute to this international city with important cultural heritage and legacy.

The 2013 World Summit was structured around two main concepts: (1) The contribution of local and regional authorities to the well-being of communities and the role in the Post 2015 development agenda; (2) The identification of the new challenges and models needed to answer the demand of an increasingly urban population as we work towards Habitat III in 2016.

In other to elucidate on these two main concepts, several side events were organised. It was an honour to be invited to three of these side events organised by Dr. Najat Zarrouk, Governor and Director of Training of Administrative Cadres at the Ministry of Interior, who also happens to be the Chair of Experts on Public Administration at the United Nations. It was equally an opportunity for me to make a presentation during the side event on human capital development entitled “Professionalisation and human capital development of regional and local government in Africa: A promising paradigm for the continent’s renaissance.”

A lot was said about the central government’s responsibility in ensuring that regional and local governments in Africa are autonomous. Several panelists including my humble self agreed that in ensuring adequate autonomy, the central governments of Africa in collaboration with universities, think tanks, international orgainisations like the UN and the World Bank, needed to continuously hone the skills of these regional and local government actors. A lot was also said about ensuring that adequate finances were allocated to these tiers of government to ensure that they play an effective role in Africa’s renaissance. Equally the role of women in regional and local government affairs was not left out.

Judging from the intentions of such an event, one would say UCLG is dedicated to ensuring that regional and local government especially in Africa take part as partners and not as second or third ranking actors in development as they have been considered in the past. In this regard, central governments in Africa need to give regional and local government actors the role they deserve in governance and development issues. It is equally vital for central governments to ensure that there is a high degree of professionalisation and human capital development especially with a gender focus, so as to ensure maximum output at local and regional government levels. If recommendations arrived at during this summit cannot be materialised especially in Africa, it was not worth the trouble bringing together leaders of local and regional governments, international organisations, public and private sectors, financial institutions and civil society. chofor-che-two.jpg

 
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Posted by on October 8, 2013 in Africa Development

 

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