Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Book Aid decries lack of local books in Cameroon libraries

The Director of the London based humanitarian organisation, Book Aid International, Alison Hubert has observed that there is the lack of local book budgets in Cameroon universities.
Alison Hubert made her observation to the press in Yaounde at the end of a one week evaluation mission to Cameroon on Tuesday April 30, 2013.
“Book Aid International increases access to books and supports literacy, education and development in sub-Saharan Africa. We provided 543,280 new books to over 2,000 libraries last year alone and have sent more than 30 million books to partner libraries since 1954”, Alison Hubert revealed to the press in Yaounde.
Book Aid International has been working in Cameroon since 1994.  Since 2009 Book Aid International’s main partner has been Education Information Services International (EISERVI), a recently established local NGO.
According to Andrew Nyenty, Executive Director of EISERVI, Book Aid International-donated books to Cameroon are distributed to local council and community libraries, primary and secondary schools, and orphanages.
During her one week stay in Cameroon, Alison Hubert who was accompanied by the Executive Director of EISERVI visited some of the libraries, schools and orphanages where EISERVI is promoting the reading culture.
Alison Hubert told reporters that the purpose of her visit was to evaluate the impact of their activities on the beneficiaries. And after the visit, she was very impressed with the impact Book Aid International is creating in Cameroon through its main partner, EISERVI, she said.
“EISERVI is doing a fabulous job” Alison Hubert remarked.
However, the Book Aid International’s Director noted that the positive impact created in the North West Region has not been as impressive that that created in the South West Region where she both visited.
One of the disheartening challenges in the Cameroonian education system is the lack of reading culture in schools. This problem is compounded by two major factors.
First, the Cameroonian system of education is dominated by exams which play a crucial role in deciding the students’ future. Second, almost all the students and teachers speak English as their second or even third language.
Book Aid International-donated books however do not always match the curriculum needs of pupils and students in Cameroon, educationists say.
But Book Aid argues that they donate books to compliment those already in Cameroonian libraries. Alison Hubert decried the lack of local book budget in university libraries in Cameroon.

Senatorial ELections: Only Two political parties to be Represented at Cameroon's Upper House of Parliament

Cameroonians now know the 70 of the 100 pioneer senators of the country. Only two political parties will have elected representatives in the Upper House of parliament in Cameroon; the ruling Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) and the main opposition party, Social Democratic Front (SDF).
Cameroon’s Supreme Court sitting in lieu of the Constitutional Council announced the results of the first ever election of senators in Cameroon on Monday April 29 in Yaounde.
As expected, the ruling Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) won 56 seats of in eight regions: the Centre, East, Far North, Littoral, North, Northwest, South and Southwest while the opposition Social Democratic Front (SDF) won 14 seats in the West and Adamawa regions.
Four political parties; the ruling Cameroon People Democratic Party, CPDM, the main opposition party, the Social Democratic Front SDF, the National Union for Democracy and Progress, NUDP and the Cameroon Democratic Union, CDU took part in the elections.
While the CPDM and the SDF have won all the 70 seats, the CDU that only contested in the West region and the NUDP that contested in four regions got no seats.
The proclamation of the results has paved the way for the President of the Republic to appoint the remaining 30 in not more than 10 days from today. The President would appoint three each from the ten regions of Cameroon.
Following Monday’s proclamation of the results, both the 70 elected and 30 appointed senators will meet on Tuesday May 14, 2013 (3rd Tuesday from the day of proclamation) as of right according to provisions of Cameroon’s electoral code.
Opposition party leaders boycott
This reporter like many others observed the absence of the National President of the National Union for Democracy and Progress (NUDP), Bello Bouba Maigari likewise the National Chairman of the Cameroon Democratic Union, CDU Dr Adamou Ndam Njoya.
Their absence from the proclamation of the election of senators’ results has been described by many political pundits as a mark of disgruntlement with the electoral system.
The opposition parties had petitioned the Supreme Court to cancel the vote in five regions where they alleged fraud. The petitions were thrown out.

Two New Hydroelectricity Dams to be Built on the Sanaga River

Two new hydroelectricity facilities to jointly produce 1100MW of electricity annually would be built on the Sanaga River, government announced last week. A memorandum of understanding was signed in Yaounde earlier this month between the Ministry of Water Resources and Energy, and Hydromine, the American company that will realize the projects.
Basil Atangana Nkouna, minister of Water Resources and Energy signed for his ministry while Hydromine’s chairman and CEO, Peter L Briger represented his corporation.
The two facilities to be built in Mouséré in the Northern part of the country and Eweng in the Center Region would also facilitate the creation of an aluminium smelter business that would produce about 500,000 tons per year, it was announced during the signing.
Atangana Nkouna said these projects together with the ongoing hydro power ventures around the country would provide low cost energy and move the country towards industrialization as Cameroon plans to start transforming its raw materials into finished goods.
According to Mr. Briger, the Mouséré hydro station with a yearly capacity of 200 MW would regulate and increase the flow of water to other downstream hydroelectric facilities on the Sanaga River which carries at least three hydroelectric plants including the Lom Panga facility and the would be Grand Eweng plant.
Hydromine’s spokesperson also announced that it has already partnered with a Bahrainian cable producing company, Midal Cables ltd. which will process aluminum produced from the hydro projects to provide electricity transmission cables and rods that will be used in conveying electricity to different parts of the country and beyond.
Besides the aluminum smelter company, Midal Cables would also build an aluminum cable and rod production outfit in Cameroon and has agreed to take 20% of the proposed annual 500,000 tons of aluminum, Mr. Briger said.
“In Cameroon, like Rome, projects of this type cannot be built in a day” he added, pointing out that it would take them at least 18 months to complete feasibility studies in these areas before proper construction commences.
The two projects are estimated to cost about 900 billion CFAF which funding will come from government and other partners. Mr. Briger said the African development Bank has expressed its support to see the projects through. The initiative adds up to the five hydroelectricity projects already underway in the country aimed at bringing electricity to every household by 2035. It is government’s plan under the ‘2035 Vision’ as Cameroon struggles to become an emerging economy by then.
The plan also carries other long term electricity projects that would enable the smooth operation of industries as government plans to open industrial zones around the country. President Biya would launch the Mekin hydro plant in the days ahead.

Effects of Privatization: Yaounde Inhabitants Red-faced as Tap Water Turns Red

City dwellers battling for water
Potable water is crucial for life. But for many of the approximately 2.5 million inhabitants in Yaoundé, its availability is plummeting to crisis levels.
With the city’s endemically insufficient potable water supply, especially in thickly populated unplanned settlements with wrecked sanitary infrastructure, drinking tap water could be the speediest and easiest route to the grave.
In such areas, seepages and spillovers from pit latrines and septic tanks have contaminated the water table, which supplies wells and streams. The vulnerability of these precarious zones to flooding puts the rapidly growing population of the urban poor at great risk.
The lesions left behind by a cholera outbreak, which took Yaoundé unawares in early 2011 and rapidly snowballed in just two months leaving more than 250 persons dead in its wake, may have healed. But the scars left behind, coupled with the still disappointing potable water supply, are stark indicators that the monster could re-emerge. Unusually protracted rainfall that year submerged huge swathes of the city in floodwaters which authorities said had polluted drinking water from wells, especially in slums.
Today, not even pipe borne water, once seen as the lone reliable source of drinking water, is trusted by city dwellers.
“I no longer drink tap water,” says Christopher Kimbi, a disillusioned Yaoundé resident living in the Ngousso neighbourhood. “It does not possess the qualities we were taught in primary school that potable water should have.” He also went on to add that “Tap water here is not only dirty, it has a taste”.
Miles away in Ngoa-Ekelle, another dweller in the capital city, Emmanuel Ngenge, is trying hard to wade through the water hurdle. He has devised a mechanism to filter the reddish tap water before drinking. Emmanuel’s device is rudimentary: a used plastic bottle he has cut in the middle. The lower part is discarded; he inverts the upper part and uses it as a funnel. The impure water is then decanted through the funnel into another container, with a thick ball of cotton stuck into its neck to hold back impurities. The ‘filtered’ water does not lose all its redness but is now ‘fit’ for drinking.
Ngenge is one among thousands of Yaoundé inhabitants who because they cannot afford the costly modern filters, perform this ritual almost on a daily basis. Emmanuel says as a student he cannot afford bottled mineral water either - a complaint many re-echo.
The water drama has seen many residents in the city resort to quenching their thirsts with water from questionable sources packaged in plastic sachets which normally sell at FCFA 50.
“The quality of the sachet water is sometimes doubtful but we don’t have a choice,” says Evelyn a mother of three who lives in Emana, Yaoundé, adding that her entire family uses sachet water.
The “muddy” water gushing from faucets in Yaoundé comes after protracted water shortages in several areas in the capital. Some neighbourhoods went for months on end without a single drop trickling from taps.
Government stepped in to arrest the crisis, instructing some organizations to come to the succour of city dwellers. Fire fighters, the police and the Yaoundé City Council rationed water to the neighbourhoods in greatest need.
While the quick-fix lasted for the brief period it did, many are those who hold the state culpable for their plight saying their woes began with government’s liquidation of the National Water Corporation (SNEC). A few cuts were recorded when SNEC was in charge but, the sore progressively festered into a more hazardous one when stewardship moved from public to private hands, they argue.
The World Bank Institute’s Water Policy Reform Program foresaw such growing water stress and prodded the world in a November 1999 report to urgently seek redress and save over one billion people who lack safe water globally and a further three billion in need of adequate sanitation.
“More than eighty countries, with forty percent of the world’s population, are already facing water shortages, while by [the] year 2020 the world’s population will double,” the report said.
 “The costs of water infrastructure have risen dramatically. The quality of water in rivers and underground has deteriorated, due to pollution by waste and contaminants from cities, industry and agriculture. Ecosystems are being destroyed, sometimes permanently.”
By Ndi Eugene Ndi

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Senatorial Elections: Traditional rulers called to campaign for CPDM

The call was from Hon Cavaye Yegui Djibril, speaker of the National Assembly and honorary member of the National Council of Cameroon Traditional Rulers, NCCTR.
The traditional ruler of Maga in the Far North Region was speaking at the opening of the second executive meeting of the National Council of Cameroon Traditional Rulers in Yaounde on Saturday March 30, 2013.
Though recognizing that not all traditional rulers are militants of the ruling CPDM, Cavaye told the close to 100 traditional rulers who were present at the
The president General of the National Council of Cameroon Traditional Rulers, the Lamido of Garoua, Alim Garga Hayatou in his opening address stressed on the need for traditional rulers to be involved in nation building.
At the end of the meeting, NewsWatch caught up with HRH Fon Chafah the 11th of Bangolan who is the Secretary General of the council, hear him:
NewsWatch: Why this meeting?
Fon Chafah: You know since we created our council, we’ve constantly had executive meetings but not a joint session with the council of eldest. So we decided that the executive meeting together with the council of eldest should meet today first of all to look at what we have done for the years past, look at our status and internal roles and regulations to see if there are some adjustments to make. And finally to come up with a working document, to see how an official status can be given to traditional rulers in Cameroon because we do not have one. When we look round in Nigeria, Ghana and other nations where traditional rulers are recognized and given their rightful places, we realize that in Cameroon, we are only there for ceremonies, used and dumped. We want to be officially recognized, we want the state to take its responsibilities towards us. We want a national headquarters in Yaoundé where we will have our hall known and we can meet and deliberate on our issues.
NewsWatch: The theme of your meeting is traditional rulers and ethics, why the choice?
Fon Chafah: Ethics because our society is diving into all sorts of decadence. Traditional rulers who should represent morality and everything for our society should not be indifferent. We think that our moral values are declining as days go by and traditional rulers owe a duty to their people to make sure that we preserve what is left of our values.
NewsWatch: Your meeting is holding at the threshold of senatorial elections. Are traditional rulers lobbying for an appointment of one them into the senate by the head of state?
Fon Chafah: Our national council is apolitical but it does not mean a traditional ruler cannot be a senator. If the head of state in his wisdom feels that traditional rulers can play a role in nation building, he will in his wisdom choose those he thinks he can choose. We are not putting pressure on any body what so ever. Traditional rulers are Cameroonians they have their civic rights and duties. So they can take part in the nation building in any form. But we have a national president who has the mandate of Cameroonians, to take decisions on behalf of everybody. What ever decisions our Head of State takes, traditional rulers are always there to support his actions.
By Ndi Eugene Ndi

NOWEFU split over conferment of ‘Mbangfon’ title to Dr. Ngwanyam to consolidate senatorial bid

The North West fons Union, NOWEFU, previously seen as a trustworthy lobbying force is now beset with hypocrisy and infighting among traditional rulers who should be upholding grass field values.
 NOWEFU’s random distribution of traditional titles accompanied by attestations of recognition worries many a North Westerner.
The fons have gone as far as endorsing political ambitions, like they did with senatorial hopeful Dr. Nick Ngwanyam on whom they conferred the ‘Mbangfon’ title on November 24, 2012.
It is reported that their endorsement of Dr.Ngwanyam’s senatorial bid and public declaration that they are all solidly behind him are tearing the union apart.
By honouring him with the title of “Mbangfon” for his exploits in empowering youths and at the same time endorsing his senatorial bid, these fons have flung open the floodgates for critics to question whether NOWEFU has morphed into a political party.
Another school of thought holds that Dr. Ngwanyam quest for the fons’ backing may have been motivated by the desire to further consolidate his political program.
However, political analysts hold that the approval might have been the wrong one because lately, grass field fons have been tagged “royal beggars.”
Other labels have branded some of them as “royal gangsters,” further casting doubts on how much power they actually wield. 
As one of the fons who prefers to remain anonymous put it: “I don’t understand the reason for scrambling after titles or why our fons have decided to be dishing out titles that do not have any significance to benefactors in their own homeland.”
“Why hurry, why? It doesn’t look elegant. The process used by those in a hurry to get titles does not look good; it does not look polished and it does not look civilized. I see it as a sort of business,” the traditional ruler adds.
It is an embarrassment that in less than a year NOWEFU has dished out four titles to people, Fon Teche Njei of Ngemuwah, current NOWEFU president is over doing this,

Fon Teche and the sale of traditional titles in the NW
Within a period of 8 months, the North West Fons Union, NOWEFU under the reign of Fon Teche Njei has dished out four traditional titles.
The first was to Achidi Achu Judith, wife of former Prime Minister, Simon Achidi Achu and current North West Regional Director of CAMTEL. She was ‘crowned’ as ‘mafor’. The coronation of Achidi Achu Judith raised a lot of controversy as many agued that Ama Tutu Muna had been occupying the post. However, NewsWatch learnt Ama Tutu Muna was crowned ‘mafor’ by Metta (Momo) fons. Thus she was a divisional ‘mafor’, making Achidi Achu Judith the first woman to occupy that post at NOWEFU.
Those mentioned above could be pardonable, a school of thought holds. the same school of thought feels that ‘crowning’  two ‘foreigners’, Emmanuel Fuh Neba (Director of Cameroon Council for Reunification-CAMCORE) who is based in the UK and Jeffrey Townsend (UK Parliamentary Researcher), Fon Teche shouldn’t be exonerated. The duo were ‘crowned’ as NOWEFU Ambassadors for Peace to the Diaspora. Fon Teche’e colleagues have since been asking why and how ‘foreigners’ should be given such titles.
And last in 8months is Dr Nick Ngwanyam, now Dr Mbangfon Nick Ngwanyam who was coroneted last November 24 by the same union. His coronation which we learnt we learnt, was intended to consolidate his senatorial bid, has gashed the North West Fons’ Union, we are informed.
“It is not strange that they are dishing out titles, they have reduced NOWEFU to royal beggars and that is their source of income” an observer noted.
Following the split, there are rumours circulating around town that a group of fons are already thinking of creating a new association. The big fons (Bali, Mankon, Bafut, Banso and Kom) NewsWatch is informed, are becoming weary of smaller fons bossing over them and dragging their reputation into mud and would like some constitutional changes.
By Ndi Eugene Ndi

Donga Mantung: Nwa Mayor Steeped in FCFA 72m Fraud

The mayor of Nwa in Donga Mantung Division of the Northwest Region risks being booted out of office with a vote of no confidence following claims from lobbyists in his municipality that he bored a hole of over 72 million FCFA in the council’s coffers.
The four-man lobby of Nwa constituents says the mayor, Dr Ngomfe Loma David, on several occasions made transactions on behalf of the council that cannot be traced in the institution’s financial records. It has lodged an appeal at the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) calling on the body to look into the allegations.
In the petition which News Watch has seen, they allege that Ngomfe sidelines councilors in budget planning so he can have a free hand in lining his pockets with tax payers’ money.
“Councilors are not allowed to deliberate on the extra-budgetary income before it is spent and the Finance Committee of Nwa Council has been completely marginalized,” the petition reads.
In addition to a “missing” FCFA 11 million surplus last year, the petitioners say a further FCFA 49 million, being “carbon credit” that was paid into the coffers of the council in November 2011 was misappropriated. The quartet claims the mayor skipped a required nod from councilors and, unilaterally adopted and integrated the sums into the municipality’s budget for 2011.
Furthermore, only a paltry FCFA 5 million, out of some FCFA 17 million made available is said to have been used in bankrolling the construction of the Nwa-Jah-Ngomko stretch of road. The FCFA 12 million balance has not been accounted for till date, they claim.
The group of four also claims Dr Ngomfe Loma David is doling out the majority of contracts in Nwa to Entreprises Hamza, a firm he runs covertly.
Dr. Ngomfe reportedly trampled on Cameroon’s contract laws when he bought a new Toyota Hilux in flagrant defiance of an agreement reached with councilors. It is alleged that they had settled that funds raised from the sale of the council’s old Land Rover and another Toyota Hilux, which is still to be sold, be used to buy a new vehicle for the council.
It is further claimed the mayor proceeded to employing over 60 temporary council workers, based largely on favouritism, without the knowledge of his deputies and councilors. The mayor did this, it is claimed, after he “stood off the Nwa Council temporary workers in 2010, in total defiance of the council deliberations and resolutions of the March 2010 budgetary session which had sufficient provisions for the salaries and salary areas of the said workers.”
The petitioners end their appeal on a grim note drawing attention to inflated mission allowances the mayor is said to be attributing to himself.
Even his “driver is put on an exaggerated salary and out-station allowances of more than FCFA 200.000 at times.”
But Mayor Ngomfe counters, insisting that all the accusations leveled at him are void of substance.
“What I can say about this petition is that the names on it are non-existent. They are writing from hiding; in fact they are cowards. “However, I am aware they are my political enemies and their fear is my growing popularity and my successes in Nwa.”
By Ndi Eugene Ndi

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Beaubien and Associates is a consultancy firm not an intermediary in visa delivery- Delegate

Michel Beaubien and Associates is a firm that does consultancy in immigration. For the past seven years that the firm is operational in Cameroon, Marguerite ON, representative of the firm said many Cameroonians have already benefited from its services.
Speaking in a press conference at the Yaounde office of the consultancy firm, the representative delegate explained that many Cameroonians want to migrate to Canada. Unfortunately most of these Cameroonians of victims of fake middle men who promise to work out visas and other traveling documents but fail them.
According to Marguerite ON, Michel Beaubien and Associates consultancy firm in immigration is different from those fake firms.  “Michel Beaubien is first of all a Canadian by birth and secondly he understands the immigration laws of his country after haven worked in the Ministry of Immigration of his country” the delegate said.
For the past seven years of existence in Cameroon, Michel Beaubien and Associates has sent more than 200 people to Canada.
Answering questions from the press, Marguerite ON said Michel Beaubien and Associates consultancy firm in Immigration is well known by the Canadian High Commission in Yaounde as the founder of the firm, Michel Beaubien lives in Montreal where his cabinet is found.
Marguerite ON argued that Michel Beaubien and Associates is a firm and an affiliate of the Michel Beaubien and Associates in Montreal not an intermediary to facilitate visa acquisitions only. “Michel Beaubien is an Accredited Consultant with more than 30 years of experience in immigration”
The Delegate however regretted that charlatans have been using their name to dupe aspirants who want to migrate to Canada but their services are free, though only accessible to those less than 49 years.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Supreme Court Judges drilled on EITI procedures

Judges from the Audit Bench of the Supreme Court in Cameroon have been acquainting themselves with the procedures and principles of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, EITI.
The EITI aims at ensuring transparency in payment from oil and mineral resources for the benefit of local communities.
Despite its many extractive and mining industries, Cameroon is yet to be granted the compliant country status of the initiative. This situation has been blamed on the inadequacies in figures presented by stakeholders and discrepancies in the country’s reconciliation reports to the EITI Board.
The judges are acquainting themselves with procedures in the payments made by extractive industries in Cameroon
The judges will be expected to examine the accounts of Cameroon and report to the EITI Board.
The Secretary of State in the Ministry of Mines Industries and Technological Development, Fuh Calistus Gentry took the judges  memory lane and presented the various steps that the government has been taking towards inculcating good governance in the extractive industries through its adherence to the EITI process.
Through presentations and exposés, the judges of the Audit Bench of the Supreme Court were edified on the level at which Cameroon is vis-à-vis becoming compliant country of the EITI process.
The executive president of EITI from the Republic of Congo, Florent Michel Okoko whose country was admitted by the Board of Directors of the EITI as compliant country status of the initiative told this reporter he has come to share his country’s experience with Cameroon.
Cameroon adhered to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative on the 17th of March 2005 and was granted a candidate country status in November 2007.
Though a “candidate close to compliant”, Cameroon is still faced with many challenges of being admitted by the EITI Board.
2009 and 2010 EITI Report launched
The training workshop for judges of the Audit bench of the Supreme Court was followed by the launching of the 2009 and 2010 conciliation report on extractive industries in Cameroon.
Speaking during the launch at the Yaounde Hilton on April 5, 2013, Alamine Ousmane Mey, Cameroon Minister of Finance and president of EITI Cameroon said Cameroon is resolutely involved in becoming a compliant country of the EITI by August this year.
After her 3rd reconciliation report (2006-2008) failed to convince the EITI Board, Cameroon in 2012 hired a conciliator is determined to becoming compliant member country this year.
Regional sensitizations workshops will be organized in the days ahead to let all Cameroonians better understand the EITI procedures.
By Ndi Eugene Ndi

Study shows Herakles Farms could cause food insecurity in Cameroon

Herakles Farms, SGSOC
Results of a study dubbed “farming systems and food security in the Nguti, Mundemba and Toko Subdivisions” were presented to media and civil society organizations at the Solomon Tandeng Muna Foundation in Yaounde on Friday April 19, 2013.
According to the study carried out by the Citizens Association for the Defense of Collective Interests, known in its French acronym as ACDIC, “community-based farming in South West Cameroon could increase food security while protecting the region’s rich forests”.
The study assesses how small-scale farming can offer a responsible development path, in contrast to a proposed industrial palm oil plantation in the region “which threatens local livelihoods and the environment”.
The presentation of the study followed a joint Greenpeace-ACDIC workshop which held in Kumba on April 16, 2013 to engage with communities and local authorities on food security, land rights and forest protection.
On September 17, 2009, SG Sustainable Oils Cameroon PLC (SGSOC) signed a contract with the Cameroonian Government to develop a large industrial palm oil plantation and refinery. SGSOC which is 100 per cent owned by the American Company, Herakles Farms obtained the rights to 73,086 Hectares of land in the Ndian and Kupe-Muanenguba Divisions of the South West Region of Cameroon through a 99-year land lease.
According to the study presented in Yaounde on Friday, ecological farming offers a positive and viable alternative to the 73,000 hectares palm oil project proposed by the US-based Corporation. The study further shows that the livelihoods of the more than 14,000 people currently living and farming in the project area could be jeopardized as the implementation of the project would lead to food insecurity.
The study also describes how cocoa yields in the South West, which provides 70 per cent of Cameroon’s cocoa production, can be improved through training, better organization and market access.
Irene Wabiwa, Forest Campaigner for Greenpeace Africa says “Herakles should respect the land rights of these communities, who have not been properly consulted on the plantation. Greenpeace supports thee call by Cameroonian NGOs for a moratorium on the allocation of new agro-industrial concessions, until clear land use planning, which takes into account existing land rights and adequate support for community-based farming is implemented”.
On his part, Martin Nzegang, Head of the Department of Research of ACDIC who led the team to the project area says government should invest and support small scale farming in the area as an alternative to Herakles Farms project.
 By Ndi Eugene Ndi