Tuesday, May 15, 2018

UN grants HOFNA Cameroon Special Consultative Status

Bamenda,Cameroon--Community-based Non-governmental and non-profit making organization, Hope for the Needy Association (HOFNA) Cameroon has been awarded a Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations; a recognition that allows the Bamenda-based organisation to communicate directly with the NGO branch of the UN.
Christelle Bay Chongwain, Executive Director of HOFNA

The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations at its 2018 Regular Session, held from January 29 to February 7, 2018 made the recommendation which was endorsed at ECOSOC’s Coordination and Management Meeting held on April 16-18, 2018.

According to Christelle Bay Chongwain, Executive Director of HOFNA, the status that has been granted the organisation four years after they applied is a milestone in the journey of the nonprofit organization that is dedicated to helping the most underprivileged and marginalized youth in Cameroon achieve lasting positive changes in their lives.

“This status is like a voice calling on us to do more; to empower more women and girls in the communities that we serve,” Christelle Bay told NewsWatch.

After taking part in the post 2015 development agenda, mobilising women and youth groups in the communities, getting their assessment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and their priorities for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), HOFNA had hoped to the UN General Assembly of that year but the dream was quashed for lack of accreditation.

Christelle Bay explained that attending the United Nations general Assembly at that time would have offered them an opportunity to join their voices on a global platform to present that which women in the rural communities wanted and not to have attended the GA motivated HOFNA to continue pushing for the status which was granted last month.

With the status granted, HOFNA can now communicate directly with the NGO branch of the United Nations and host side events during UN General Assemblies. The organisation has to also designate its representatives to UN Headquarters in New York as well as to the duty stations in Geneva and Vienna.

“Anything that concerns the UN we have a special place to present our views. This is actually an opportunity for us to represent the voices of the women and girls in those rural communities at the UN platform and also an opportunity to get more people engaged in the work HOFNA is doing in Cameroon. It entails a lot and I think that it is actually the beginning of bigger work,” Christelle said.

Education for all

HOFNA was created in 2010 and registered in 2012 in the North West region with base in Bamenda. On creation HOFNA’s primary activities centred around poverty alleviation, access to education for all, human right’s education, environmental conservation, sustainable agriculture, youth and women empowerment as well as hygiene and sanitation.
With a mission of helping poor and vulnerable people in society to achieve positive and lasting changes in their lives, HOFNA has over the years succeeded in creating a positive impact in society, especially in the domain of eradicating gender-based violence through training, education and sensitization of stakeholders in the domain.

It is worthy to recall here that since its creation, HOFNA has succeeded in training over 30 traditional rulers and traditional title holders in Donga Mantung division on responding to and preventing gender-based violence.  During the training emphasis was placed on the prevention child trafficking and its attendant ills.
HOFNA saying No to child, early and forced marriages 

In the same vein, over 100 taxi drivers, bike riders, barbers and hair dressers were drilled on how to respond and prevent child trafficking and gender-based violence in their various communities in the North West region.

In order to drive home their message of fighting gender-based violence, HOFNA used theatre and debates to reach out to over 6000 students, parents and teachers. The participants were sensitized on child trafficking, the ills of early and forced marriages and other forms of school-related gender-based violence.

HOFNA has been able to curb teenage pregnancies and school dropouts by encouraging over 200 girls to stay in school over the past 6 years through leadership development programs and scholarship awards. Equally the NGO has over the years donated benches, textbooks, pens, drinking pales, charts, didactic materials and materials for extracurricular activities that are benefitting over 500 children in 5 schools in rural communities in the North West Region.

Preaching tolerance through poetry

In an era of religious extremism, HOFNA has been able to level the ground by engaging over 3000 young people to use poetry, oral literature and the unifying power of music to promote religious tolerance in Cameroon.

HOFNA in a bid to alleviate poverty has equally engaged over 200 youth and women in agriculture as a business. They have been trained on sustainable agriculture best practices for income generation through their Certified Coffee Nursery Initiative and the HOFNA Farm that has been established.
Girls take part in a HOFNA organised boot camp

HOFNA’s activities in diverse domains have impacted positively on the society. This has been so because HOFNA has help vulnerable people acquire self-reliance development through the participatory approach.  This has been possible due to the fact that HOFNA implements its activities using the sustainable community-based approach.  This approach which uses low technology is sustainable and motivates communities at the grassroots level to be propellers of their own socio-economic development. The overall impact is that the populations have a say in the policies that govern them and their families. In this wise their socio-economic development is community-driven and achieves the greatest good for the greatest majority.

 It is worthy to note that along the years HOFNA has worked with UNDP, Albany Associates and over 15 Civil Society Organizations, CSOs, from Sub-Saharan Africa to develop an application that guides CSOs and individuals plan and run effective campaigns to prevent/counter violent extremism.

With all these palpable benchmarks, it is therefore not surprising that HOFNA that plans to run a girls’ empowerment centre in the North West region gained Special Consultative Status to the United Nations ECOSOC.

By Ndi Eugene Ndi (First published in NewsWatch N° 022 of Wednesday May 16, 2018)

Saturday, October 14, 2017

MTN Business, APME launch MTN PME PACK and Masterclass

Minister Etoundi Ngoa symbolically cutting the ribbon 
Douala, Cameroon—MTN, telecoms leader in Cameroon and APME (Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion Agency), announce the launch of MTN PME Pack and Masterclass, specially designed for SMEs/SMIs. The ceremony organised for the occasion was presided by the Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises, Social Economy and Handicrafts (Minpmeesa), Pr. Laurent Serge Etoundi NGOA, in the presence of Mr. Georges MPOUDI, General Manager Enterprise Business Unit of MTN Cameroon and Mr. Jean Marie Louis BADGA, General Manager of APME.

MTN PME PACK is the special integrated package that enables eligible SMEs/SMIs to benefit mobile solutions (Voice, Mobile data and SMS), hosting services (domain name, professional email address, and building of a website), mobile equipment and financial services. MTN PME PACK is subsidized at 70% by APME. The price of the pack varies between XAF140,000 all tax/year for MTN STARTER PACK BASIC, and XAF 248,000 all tax/year for MTN STARTER PACK STANDARD.

The SMEs/SMIs which shall subscribe to the MTN PME PACK shall benefit several advantages:
•          Sell more and conquer new markets through new online sales tools: creation of a website and software to manage contacts and emailing
•          Gain in terms of visibility, fame, and brand image
•          Reinforce their ICT competence
•          Improve their lifespan thanks to the subsidy of at least 70% provided by APME.

In view of further developing eligible SMEs/SMIs, MTN Business has designed Masterclasses, which are a capacity-building programme to support local SMEs/SMIs in their digital transformation. The MTN Business Masterclasses shall take place in Douala, Yaounde and Buea throughout Q4 of 2017.

The launch of MTN PME Pack and the Masterclasses, results from a partnership agreement signed between MTN Business and APME, on 11 November 2016, to support the transformation and digitalisation of Cameroonian SMEs.

Under this partnership, MTN shall provide its technologies and know-how to thousands of SMEs operating in Cameroon since 2012. APME on its part shall finance the access of enterprises to these solutions at the tune of 70%.

“This new value proposition and support programme mainly target SMEs in need of affordable communication solutions and efficient connectivity to sustain their lifespan. These enterprises can therefore focus on their core business while we provide them the locally-based necessary assistance”, indicated George Mpoudi, General Manager, MTN Business Unit at MTN Cameroon.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Political Representation: Mbororos, Pygmies Demand For Seats In Parliament And Councils

Yaounde—Indigenous peoples’ rights activists in Cameroon have hailed the government for recent strides in ensuring the aboriginal forest people (Baka, Bagyeli pygmies) and indigenous Mbororos, who are traditionally nomadic herdsmen, take part in the country's electoral process especially the 2013 municipal and legislative elections.

The representatives of the traditionally underrepresented and historically marginalised minority groups were speaking in Yaounde on the occasion of the 2017 International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples last August 9; month to the 10th Anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) adopted on September 14, 2007.

Statistics by the Centre for Environment and Development (CED) show that 17 indigenous forest peoples (Baka, Bagyeli pygmies) and 48 Mbororos are municipal councillors in the 360 municipal councils nationwide with 30 of them in the Northwest region alone, and a pastoralist Mbororo Mayor in the Adamawa Region.

Though activists admit there has been a marked improvement in the political representation of the minority groups within the last ten years, they say it can be improved upon should government put if government plays her role.

“There has been some improvement since 2011, but while we appreciate the efforts of the government, we still call on them to increase their efforts towards strengthening the rights of Indigenous Peoples,” said Basiru Isa, secretary general of the Network of Indigenous Peoples and Local Populations for the Sustainable Management of Forest Ecosystems (REPALEAC).

Section 151 (3) of the electoral code stipulates that “each list shall take into consideration the various sociological components of the constituency concerned. It shall also take into consideration gender aspects.”

Indigenous peoples’ rights defenders however think for the minority groups to fully take part in the electoral process they need certain preconditions such as possessing valid citizens’ documents like birth certificates and National ID cards, and most especially getting registered into the voters’ list. 

“These services for now are not at the reach of all indigenous peoples in Cameroon because of their geographical locations,” Basiru Isa said, further urging that authorities have to ensure such services within the reach of aboriginal Baka and Bagyeli forest pygmies as well as nomadic Mbororos.

The constitution of the country uses the terms ‘indigenous’ and ‘minorities’ in its preamble; however, it unclear to whom this reference is being made. Nevertheless, with developments in international law, the civil society and government are increasingly using the term indigenous to refer to the above-mentioned groups.

Nothing for us without us

The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) highlights the importance of ensuring effective participation by indigenous peoples in decision-making at all levels and urges states to ensure effective implementation of the rule, but in Cameroon, activists say challenges are legion and so are cracks that need to be filled especially relating to political participation.

Cameroon voted in favour of the UN declaration in 2007 and according to the Ministry of Social Affairs, the country has also adopted a Plan for the Development of the “Pygmy” Peoples within the context of its Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper. Yet, vulnerable indigenous peoples say they are yet to be represented in decision-making bodies, both at local and national levels in the country.

“Our appeal to the government and decision makers in this country is that indigenous people should be given a space in political and decision making structures like the National Assembly, the Senate, local and regional councils by creating special constituencies for these people,” said Musa Usman Ndamba, first vice National President of the Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association(MBOSCUDA).

The first vice National President of MBOSCUDA expressed fear that indigenous people may not emerge when mainstream Cameroonian communities become emergent by the year 2035 according to a government growth and employment strategy plan.

“It is often said nothing for us without us, but the government is taking decisions for all Cameroonians without the presence of the representatives of indigenous people. Indigenous people might not emerge with other Cameroonians by 2035,” Usman Ndamba said.

Positive discrimination recommended

Experts recommend ‘positive discrimination’ in favour of the minority groups who may not contest and win a classical election with mainstream candidates.

Samuel Nguiffo, Secretary General of CED said the government of Cameroon can adopt laws that favour indigenous people like in the case of Burundi.

“Indigenous people cannot run for elections like mainstream candidates because they don’t have the same financial means, they are not as well-known as other candidates. So, the government can decide to create seats in parliament and the senate for them,” Samuel Nguiffo said.

The director of CED which advocates for the rights of vulnerable indigenous people said as Cameroon prepares for the 2018 set of elections, government can replicate the example of Burundi where “two indigenous people are represented at the senate.” In order to do that, Nguiffo said it is important to define a national policy for indigenous peoples, which will require a comprehensive census of indigenous communities.

“The announced general census could allow the state to acquire the means to know the exact number of indigenous people in Cameroon as their representation in local and national elective positions can help ensure that their rights are protected, and their unique interests are heard and translated into relevant policies, while at the same time preventing conflict,” Samuel Nguiffo explained.

According to the United Nations, there are an estimated 370 million indigenous people in the world, living across 90 countries. They make up less than 5 per cent of the world's population, but account for 15 per cent of the poorest.

According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, indigenous representation in parliament can also benefit society at large, because indigenous practices and knowledge can provide solutions to complex environmental, developmental and governance problems that all societies face today.

By Ndi Eugene Ndi/First Published in NewsWatch Newspaper No 013 of August 21, 2017

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Hugo Broos says Clinton Njie’s soccer career at stake

Yaounde,Cameroon—Cameroon head coach, Hugo Broos has warned, Clinton Njie might let his career pass him by if he “does not change his ways.”

 Broos fired the warning shot recently at the Marseille striker in a press conference in Yaounde as he justified his 23-man squad for the FIFA Confederations Cup.

Njie, who was part of the squad that won the Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon early this year has not had a look in at the squad since then as Broos dropped him first for the friendlies against Tunisia and Guinea in March.

He was later dropped alongside seven players who won the Afcon trophy in Gabon for different reasons.

“If he [Clinton Njie] is not going to change, he will lose his career totally. He must change his attitude and put in the work required. Even Ronaldo or Messi are always working hard,” Broos told a press conference.

“If he [Clinton Njie] doesn’t understand that, then it is a pity for him. He will never become a great player even when he has the qualities,” Broos stated saying the Cameroon international striker could ruin his career.

Broos told a press conference in Yaounde that Njie’s performance has been poor since the Gabon expedition. He said instead of concentrating on the field, the striker who has played 22 games and scored four goals since joining the Indomitable Lions in September 2014 has resorted to indiscipline, thinking he’s the best, “which doesn’t work.”

Njie started the first two games of the Africa Nations Cup against Burkina Faso and Guinea Conakry but failed to register a shot on target as he was soon relegated to the bench for the rest of the competition.

He was criticised for his performance and work rate by Cameroon football legend Roger Milla in Gabon and in a show of dissent was caught on camera refusing to shake hands with the legend though the pair later made peace.

Even at club side Olympique Marseille, Njie has managed just four goals and an assist in 23 assist in 23 appearances throughout the season.

Other players who were in Gabon but may not feature at the Confederations Cup in Russia include goalkeeper Jules Goda,  forwards Franck Boya and Salli Edgar and defenders Mohammed Djetei and Nicolas Nkoulou who announced he has retired from international football after the Gabon expedition.

Schalke04 striker, Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting who snubbed a call for the AFCON in Gabon but returned to the team in March was not also included on the list of players Broos named on 18 May.

Cameroon will play in group B of the FIFA Confederations Cup alongside Chile, Australia and Germany.

According to the Indomitable Lions coach, the level of the Confederations Cup is higher than that of AFCON and Cameroonians should not be surprised that the African champion may be eliminated after their first three group games.

“It is not because we are champions of Africa that we should think we can defeat everyone. The level of the confederations Cup is higher than that of the African Cup of Nations. We are going to meet world champions, if you take Chile from South America for example, it means the team is better than Brazil, Argentina,” Hugo Broos said.

By Ndi Eugene Ndi

Indomitable Lions poised to lift Confederations Cup trophy in Russia

Yaounde, Cameroon—After winning the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon are now poised to lift the trophy of the FIFA Confederations Cup tournament in Russia later this month.

The much-coveted FIFA Confederations Cup trophy made a stop-over in Cameroon on Friday June 2 in a final stop of a tour of the eight countries set to compete at the global tournament in Russia later this month.

On behalf of the Indomitable Lions, midfielder Sebastien Siani promised they are going to Russia to win the trophy to honour the memory of Marc Vivien Foe, a former midfielder of the team who collapsed on the field during the 2003 Confederations Cup semi-final between Cameroon and Colombia and later died in France.

Like Siani, the President of the Cameroon Football Federation (FECAFOOT), Tombi a Roko Sidiki was optimistic that the five times African champions will lift the trophy as a mark of honour to the continent.

“We are not only representing the country Cameroon but the continent and our ambition is to win the trophy,” Tombi said.

Olivier Dacourt, who was part of the France teams that lifted the trophy in both 2001 and 2003 and now part of the FIFA Legends team accompanying the trophy tour urged the team maintain the 2017 AFCON steam and win the trophy.

“Winning the Africa Cup of Nations was a real feat for Cameroon the important thing is that they keep up their momentum,” Mr Dacourt said.

Participants in the 2017 Confederations Cup are hosts Russia, 2014 FIFA World Cup Champions Germany, 2015 Copa America Champions Chile, 2015 AFC Asian Cup Champion Australia, 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup winners Mexico, 2016 UEFA Euro Cup champs Portugal, OFC (Oceania Football Confederation) Nations Cup victors New Zealand and 2017 CAF Africa Cup of Nations Champion Cameroon that will be participating for the third time.

No African team has ever won the Confederations Cup. The best performance to date by the continent’s representatives in the competition remains that of Roger Milla’s country that reached the final in 2003 but lost to France.

While the trophy left Yaounde back to Russia, the Indomitable Lions who have been training in city since Monday also left for Malabo in neighbouring Equatorial Guinea where they will camp till June 8.

They will welcome Atlas Lions of Morocco in their first AFCON 2019 qualification match on June 10 before travelling to Madrid, Spain for a friendly against Colombia on June 13, according to the official program of the team.

The African champions will then move on June 14 for the FIFA Confederations Cup from June 17 to July 2 in Russia.

Cameroon will play in group B of the FIFA Confederations Cup alongside Chile, Australia and Germany. Their first game of the global tournament against Chile on June 18 will be staged at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow.

By Ndi Eugene Ndi

Sunday, May 28, 2017

‘Assou-Ekotto wants to be a pornstar’—Birmingham City manager says

Birmingham City manager Harry Redknapp has played down talk of reconnecting with former Tottenham and Queens Park Rangers full-back Benoit Assou-Ekotto, claiming that the defender "wants to be a pornstar" instead of a footballer.

The former Spurs boss has managed the left-back twice before, but made a shocking revelation when asked would he sign him for Birmingham City.

Redknapp managed the Cameroon international at White Hart Lane before bringing him to QPR on loan when he took the Rangers job after moving on from Spurs.

Assou-Ekotto currently plays with French Ligue 1 club Metz, but has been linked with a move back to England to link up with Redknapp for a third time.

Despite the speculation, Redknapp was quick to play down a move for the 33-year-old, joking that the left-back has other things on his mind away from football.

"He was mad, Benoit, but do you know what? I think I’m mad as well," Redknapp joked on the Spurs Show Podcast .

"I got a phone call - it’s the gospel truth. I agreed I might go to Birmingham and suddenly I get a phone call from this guy.

"‘Oh Mr Redknapp, I’ve got a fantastic player for you’. Oh yes? ‘One of your old players’. Yes?  'Benoit'. No! But seriously you know what? I’m thinking: 'Yeah!' Somewhere inside I’m thinking I can get him going again.

"The only trouble is that he’s admitted he wants to be a pornstar. Maybe I can get another year out of him before he decides to do that.

"What a good player. He could well end up in the Birmingham colours next year, Benoit."

Culled from goal.com

Saturday, May 20, 2017

20th May: Nkambe defies “unpatriotic boycott calls,” celebrates in pomp

Nkambe—“In defiance of unpatriotic calls for a boycott,” the people of Nkambe central subdivision in the Donga Mantung Division of the North West region joined the rest of the country in commemorative activities marking the 45th National Day on Saturday May 20.

Chaired by the Senior Divisional Officer for Donga Mantung, Ngone Nodemessappe Bernard, the activities at the Nkambe municipal grandstand featured a military and civilian past.

Commanded by Captain Bamu, the military march past which preceded that of civilians was led by troops of the 25th Motorised Infantry Battalion (BIM) that is lodged in the town.

Government Francophone Practising School Nkambe and her thrilling majorette led the parade of educational institutions after the Red Cross and Boys Scouts.

Among other educational institutions that took part in the march past were Government Bilingual High School (GBHS), Government Technical High School (GTHS), Government Teachers Training College (GTTC) and Christ the King Teachers Training College, all of Nkambe.

Conspicuous among the many socio-cultural, economic groups and associations that took part in the National Day parade was the female football team of Bang Bullet FC of Nkambe who received thunderous applauds from the tribune.

Three political parties—including the Social Democratic Front (SDF) of Ni John Fru Ndi were shortlisted for the parade in Nkambe but it boycotted.

Led by the section president, Ngala Gerard the ruling Cameroon People Democratic Movement (CPDM) largely dominated the march past with the presence of about 2,000 militants with some carrying posters displaying messages like “the Donga Mantung I section of the CPDM says yes to social peace and national unity.”

The UDP of Alaji Bako sealed the march past which also marked the end activities that lasted for over two hours.

Speaking to reporters after the march past, the SDO for Donga Mantung said though the usual numbers recorded in previous celebrations was not there this year, “you’ll agree with me that the quality was there.”

“We’ve witnessed a very qualitative march past and I take this opportunity to congratulate all those who participated in one way or the other to bring about the success of today’s celebrations. Here, I am thinking of the various committees, the schools, the political parties—particularly the CPDM that mobilised their militants and they came out in their numbers,” Ngone Ndodemesssappe Bernard said.

 “I also wish to thank the population of Donga Mantung and Nkambe in particular who have come out in their numbers in defiance of the unpatriotic calls for people to stay at home,” the senior administrative officer said further.

The 2017 national Day was celebrated under the theme, “Army and the nation in full synergy for a Cameroon, united in its diversity and devoted to its ideals of peace, stability and prosperity.”

By Ndi Eugene Ndi in Nkambe