Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Diplomacy: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Cameroon

Li Keqiang (theblaze.com)
(NewsWatch Cameroon)--The Prime Minister of the Peoples Republic of China, Li Keqiang, will visit Cameroon in the days ahead. The visit part of his African tour- aimed at deepening China-Africa friendship.
The tour, which will enable him assess first-hand the impact of Chinese investment in Africa will also give him an opportunity to explore other development potentials in Africa.  
China and African nations have similar development challenges and China is open to conducting mutually beneficial cooperation ties with African nations. 
In 2011, Cameroon’s President Paul Biya met with visiting Chinese State Councilor Liu Yandong and held talks with her on furthering friendship between their two nations.
President Biya told Liu that the government and people of Cameroon admire China's miraculous economic achievements that also benefit the world. He was also marveled at the ease with which the Chinese Premiere was  effective in governing  the country with a 1.3 billion population.
Since the establishment of relations 43 years ago, China and Cameroon have enjoyed sincere friendship, extending mutual support, conducting cooperation and promoting development.
By Ndi Eugene Ndi in Yaounde

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Cameroonian journalist's car destroyed in explosion-CPJ

Denis Kwebo's Burnt Car (Photo: Solomon Amabo)
New York, April 24, 2014--An investigative journalist in Cameroon told CPJ today that his car had been destroyed in an explosion early this morning. Denis Nkwebo said the car was parked outside his house in the commercial capital of Douala, and that no one was hurt in the explosion.
Nkwebo, an editor of the leading private daily Le Jour, told CPJ that acquaintances and his contacts within the government had warned him to be careful in his investigation and coverage of Cameroonian security forces. In an April 15 article, Nkwebo said security forces were struggling to stem a spate of kidnappings and armed attacks in the regions bordering unstable Nigeria and the strife-torn Central African Republic.
On Monday, Lieutenant-Colonel Didier Badjeck, a spokesman for the Cameroonian Defense Ministry, issued a statement rejecting Nkwebo's allegations about the military and urging the media not to "cultivate a climate of hysteria among the population," according to local news reports.
Nkwebo said he had reported the attack to the police who said they were investigating. Cameroonian Communications Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary did not immediately return CPJ's calls seeking comment.
"We are alarmed by the explosion at the home of Denis Nkwebo, who had been reporting on a sensitive issue of public interest: the performance of Cameroon's security forces," said CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita. "We call on authorities to carry out an efficient, thorough, and transparent investigation into this attack and hold those responsible to account."
Nkwebo is also a correspondent of Radio France Internationale's English-language service in Cameroon, the vice president of the National Syndicate of Cameroonian Journalists, and a member of the global Investigative Reporters and Editors nonprofit organization.

Activist Protests AES-Sonel Plans To Increase Price Of Electricity

(NewsWatch Cameroon)--An activist Delor Magellan Kamseu Kamgaing, president of the Cameroon Consumers League, has gone on an endless hunger strike to protest an imminent increase in the price per kilowatt of electricity consumed in Cameroon.
Kamgaing on day-1 of his hunger strike
Government-run Electricity Sector Regulatory Agency (ARSEL) has confirmed that a call for the price hike by the country’s sole electricity provider, AES-SONEL, will be examined soon.
ARSEL boss Jean Pierre Kédi, in an interview with local French daily Le Quotidien de L’Economie last week, said the price hike from CFA 50 F to CFA 70 F per kilowatt will allow for better maintenance of the country’s power grid and bring in new investments in the power supply sector.
An initial petition by Cameroon Consumers League (CCL) leader Kamgaing failed to cause Prime Minister Philemon Yang not to give a nod to the plan last week.
He says it is unfair and contemptuous to increase the price of such a basic necessity in a nation where crippling energy deficits have been bogging down economic growth.
Kamgaing began his hunger strike Monday April 21, 2014 in front of ARSEL headquarters in Yaoundé where he had declared he and the civil society organization he leads were against such a move during a meeting with the agency’s officials recently.
“Am ready to sacrifice my body and my soul for the Cameroonian cause; to go right till the end until government gives an unfavourable reply to AES-SONEL’s request,” he has said.
88 per cent of Cameroon’s 1,000 megawatt electricity generation capacity is hydroelectric.
This heavy reliance on hydropower led authorities in 2011 to launch an Urgent Thermal Programme which they said would triple national power supply by 2020.
On third day (Photo from Armand Ougock, Facebook)
Since then two new gas power stations in Kribi in the South region and Logbaba in the Littoral region have not been able to adequately salvage the power insufficiency.
Cameroon possesses an estimated 500,000 megawatt of hydroelectric potential which could make the country a net electricity exporter in the future if successfully developed.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Paul Biya “Missing” After Africa-EU Summit

(NewsWatch Cameroon)--Gabon leader Ali Bongo Ondimba has since the end of the EU-Africa Summit in Brussels visited three other countries; Rwanda, France and the Ivory Coast. Back in home, he received his counterpart Mohamadou Issoufou of Niger on a friendly and working 48-hour visit.
Like Ali Bongo, Chadian President, Idriss Deby Itno has since the end of the summit paid an official visit to Angola where he and his colleague, Eduardo Dos Santos discussed bilateral relations between their countries. The Chadian president also addressed the Angolan parliament.
In the Equatorial Guinea, Theodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo who also took part in the summit has been on the field visiting and inspecting work sites of some major projects in his country. He has also been busy receiving guests. Former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo was one of them.
In Nigeria, the not-so-lucky bloke Goodluck Jonathan had long come back from the summit to knuckle down to his presidential stint being threatened by the tightly clenched fist of Boko Haram jihadists. Besides, Jonathan’s daughter, Faith Elizabeth Sakwe’s wedding that took place in Abuja Ecumenical Centre has been one of the preoccupations of the Nigerian president. He has also been busy thinking up strategies with members of his government to save Africa’s biggest economy from arguably the largest security threats on the continent.
Pauul Biya(R), chatting with Panza on sidelines of summit
And in the war-torn Central African Republic, transition president, Catherine Samba-Panza had long regained her base in Bangui where she has continued with shrill calls on her compatriots to inter the hatchet of a blood-spattered acrimonious sectarian divide that has plagued the country for the past one year. She has also been busy implementing counsels she got from the summit on how to make that diamond-rich but seemingly cursed country peaceful. In November 2013 it was suspended from the Kimberly Process, a scheme that governs international trade in diamonds.
But in neighboring Cameroon, two weeks after after the summit, citizens are not aware of the whereabouts of their president who left the country on April 1 for the same summit like the aforementioned presidents.
On the sidelines of the summit, Biya received the Central African Republic’s transition leader. At the end of their meeting, Catherine Samba-Panza told the press that Paul Biya asked to meet her in order to have real information on the situation in the war torn country and on how Cameroon can be of help to haul the country out of the crisis it is mired in.
Panza said they have to ensure that Central African Republic citizens who have fled the country as a result of the crisis come back and contribute to the development of their homeland.
Cameroon is host to more than 160,000 CAR refugees who have fled their country following different waves of violence since 2004. This must be a preoccupying situation to both Paul Biya and Samba Panza.
Many Cameroonians expected President Paul Biya to quickly rush back after the summit to Yaoundé where hot files are said to be smouldering on his table.
Since the September 30, 2013 twin elections, Cameroonians have been expecting Biya to reshuffle his government. The post-election government has been delayed and this is just one of the issues Biya would have to handle whenever he returns.
Also, while the president was in Brussels, the Minister of State, Minister of Justice and Keeper of the Seals, Laurent Esso told parliamentarians in a plenary session at the lower house of parliament that over 100 case files hinging on graft have been transferred to the Special Criminal Court. Paul Biya is also expected to come back home and give a nod for the arrest of suspected corrupt government officials.
Though many Cameroonians are worried about the whereabouts of the president, others say it is not a surprise that Mr Biya is ‘missing.’ It is not the first time the octogenarian is ‘missing’ after an official visit to Europe.
By Ndi Eugene Ndi in Yaounde

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

These Bulu Secretaries General Bossing Over Anglo-Bamis

(NewsWatch Cameroon)--Louis Paul Motaze and Michel Meva’a Meboutu are referred to as the big bosses both at the PM’s office and Senate respectively.
The Bamilikes know they have the senate, Cameroon’s upper house of parliament,  since their son Marcel Niat Njifenji is the president of the new institution. The Anglophones know they have the PM’s office since their own Philemon Yang is Prime Minister.
Observations sadly indicate that the two are but figure heads at the helm of both institutions. They are not in total control. At both institutions we gathered, real power lies in the hands of the two secretaries general.
President Paul Biya did not appoint them by mistake. Through them Biya is controlling both institutions, a source told this reporter. They meet Biya at least twice a week and they report regularly on all that is happening at both institutions.
Their bosses do not have the same opportunity to meet the Head of State.  It is alleged that the presidency by-passes their bosses and deals directly with them regarding certain major issues. How do you give somebody a goat and then keep the rope tied to the goat’s neck?
At the senate, some members who begged not to be named are making daily prayers that God should touch the heart of the Head of State so that he should replace his cousin Michel Meva’a  Meboutou. The latter, the senators complained, is too slow to act on case files of crucial issues submitted to him, possibly due to age.
Access to the septuagenarian the senators added, is too difficult. Senators are vexed that they have to wait for days to be received by Meva’a Meboutou to discuss crucial state matters.
This reporter has seen the president of the senate climbing down from his office to see Meva’a over a case file he had been keeping for too long. It said at the senate that it is easier to get water from a stone than to get money from Meva’a.
He hardly disburses funds on time, senators told us. They also claim he pays out senators’ dues as if he was doing them a favour. This reporter saw how Senators nearly protested with Meva’a’s delayed payment of a seminar per diem.
 At the PM’s office, Louis Paul Motaze is the boss, though Yang is PM.
At the National Assembly, another Beti man, Victor Yene Ossomba is Secretary General, but he finds it difficult to lord it over a northerner, Cavaye Yeguie Djibril as the latter we learnt is frustrating all his attempts to do so.
We could not confirm allegations that current flows epileptically between the three SGs and the heads of the three institutions as our efforts of getting their own side of the story yielded no fruits.
This article was first published in NewsWatch N°008 of April 14, 2014

Negligence: Senator Fontem Njifua Was Denied CFA 300.000 for Hospital Bill

 (NewsWatch Cameroon)--The late Questor of the Cameroon’s Upper House of parliament, Senator Fon Fontem Lucas Njifua died due to negligence by the house, NewsWatch has learnt.
The senate did not come to his assistance instantly when the late chief of Fontem reached the Yaoundé university teaching hospital and was billed on the spot CFA 300.000F over the malaise he suffered and died of, sources close to the late chief informed this NewsWatch.
But curiously, CFA 3Million was disbursed to ferry his corpse to Fontem same day by the senate, we were informed further.
We also gathered that Njifua did not get immediate medical care when he reached the hospital because the money was not at hand. Such bad practices are now common in many public hospitals in Cameroon - no money, no health. Many Cameroonians have died and many will continue to die because medics deny them even first aid due to lack of money at hand.
The “almighty” Bulu Secretary General of the senate did not bother to sign out money when requests came in for finances to rescue Lucas Njifua, a bureau member of the senate.
At the senate, it is said that Meva’a Meboutou is very reluctant to sign out money. A senator whose names we could not get at press time had to shed tears before he was accorded funds to be evacuated abroad for treatment; we learnt the senate is slogging to pay his hospital bills in the hospital abroad.
The lethargy in the disbursement of funds for medical evacuation is too common now in the Cameroon administration causing much damage. Unfortunately, the problem is not that the money is not available; it is just that someone is unwilling to disburse. Surprisingly Meva’a Meboutou was that same day quick to disburse CFA 3 Million F for Njifua’s corpse to be transported to Fontem for burial.
The homage at the senate for Njifua was a mockery. A bill submitted for the event was not completely paid. A small, unvarnished plywood coffin was ordered for a simulation since Njifua as chief was buried on the same day he died according to the tradition of the Bangwa people. To avoid disgrace, the coffin was never used.
This article was first published in NewsWatch N°008 of April 14, 2014

“Embezzlers of PAJER-U Fund will be Arrested” - National Coordinator

(NewsWatch Cameroon)--The support programs to the Rural and Urban Youth PAJER-U and PIFMAS will soon be launched according to the National Coordinator Mutungo Pierre. He was speaking in Nkambe in a coordination Meeting with the beneficiaries of the  of the programs, the Divisional, Sub Divisional Delegates and his Collaborators of the Delegation including the Divisional President of the Cameroon National Youth Council Donga Mantung.
According to the detailed report of the PAJER-U in the Division presented by the Divisional Delegate of Youth Affairs and Civic Education Mme. Nfor Mary with input from four Sub Divisional Delegates, since 2009 when the Project was launched, only about 26 youths from Donga Mantung have benefited.  From 2009-2012, a total of 15.750.000frs was sent to Donga Mantung and a total of 11.430.000frs collected by the beneficiaries and FIFFA Bank the Financial institution that was in charge of paying and recovering the funds  carried away over 4million.
 Since the support is a revolving fund as loans to youths, only 1.640.500frs was paid back to the fund by the youths and 9.780.500 is still pending. Problems faced in the implantation and follow up of the Projects in Donga Mantung included, inadequate transportation means, and insufficient credit among others.
Her report proposed that a YAMAHA AG 100 be purchased for all Sub Delegates following up the projects and a 4wheel Pickup/HILUX for the Divisional Delegation with PAJER-U flags and logo for more sensitization of the program considering the long borders and the enclaved nature of the Division. Equally enough credit should be allocated for the exercise for effective field work, the place of technicians and an insurance policy in the program should be clearly defined.
According to some of the beneficiaries, they signed up for certain amounts but received less from some of the former Divisional Delegates. Others paid huge sums to the previous delegates before they could sign any documents for them to receive the loans from the bank. This accounts for the poor reimbursement of the loan with Donga Mantung being last in the North West and the North West last in the Country in this process. 
After diagnosing the Problems faced by the beneficiaries’ one by one, Pierre pointed out that the embezzlement of state funds to the tune of more than 500.000 is punishable by life imprisonment and warned youths not to be victims but examples. He added that there are free encouragement funds for those who paid all the money while those who do not pay will be arrested.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Kimberly Process: CAR Recommended to Produce Work Plan

(NewsWatch Cameroon)--In May 2013, the Central African Republic was temporarily suspended from the Kimberley Process, a certification scheme run by a coalition of producing and consuming countries, mining companies and rights groups to prevent the trade of so-called conflict diamonds, due to the military clashes in the country.
Following a military takeover in March same year,  the rebel group, known as Seleka, was suspected of using diamonds to fund illegal  activities including arms sales and human rights abuses.
The Kimberley Process suspended the country's exports weeks after saying it was concerned the trade of diamonds was funding the armed conflict in the country.
CAR has since the suspension pressed for a lift. And according to experts, for the suspension to be lifted, they need to concert with the other members of the KP in the sub region.
A consultation meeting to that effect regrouping experts from the central African sub region took place in Yaounde recently aimed at getting the suspended country to present a work plan and prove that diamond is not being used to fuel the conflict in the country.
The Yaounde meeting follows a recommendation that was given to CAR in South Africa during the plenary session of the KP. They had the same meeting in Brazzaville and Kinshasha
According to Jaff Napoleon Bamenjo, representative of the civil society in the Kimberley Process in Cameroon, such money from diamonds was used in the wars in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Angola leading to untold human suffering. Given the situation in CAR, the Kimberly Process wants to avoid such sufferings. “How do we make sure that what happened in Sierra Leon, in Liberia and Angola does not happen in Central Africa”.
Given the porous borders it shares with the Central African Republic, it is a challenge to Cameroon who is also member of the Kimberly Process.
Cameroon’s Minister of Mines, Industries and Technological Development, Emmanuel Bonde Minister who chaired the opening ceremony of the consultation meeting in Yaounde said Cameroon is tightening controls and security in the eastern border with the Central African Republic to ensure that illegal diamonds from the war-torn country do not enter Cameroon.
The Deputy Secretary General of the Kimberly Process in Central Africa holds that his country conforms to the process and thus should enjoy the benefits of belonging. Maxime Kazagui described the suspension as unwarranted arguing that despite the crisis in the country, the country stills maintains a grid on the circuit of mineral trade.
Experts say such a suspension has serious effects on the socioeconomic life of the suspended country. “If you consider that every country uses it natural resources for its development, natural resources - in this case diamonds - bring some revenue to the state and with the CAR suspended, it deprives them of that revenue”, says Jaff Napoleon. With 98% of the diamond trade taking place within the Kimberly Process, the civil society representative in the KP in Cameroon says “Central Africa cannot sell its diamonds on the international market, so it has a negative impact on the state budget, likewise social and economic development”.
Diamonds are known to be a main source of income for the CAR government. The Central African Republic produces more diamonds than Cameroon.
The Kimberly Process was established in 2003 to prevent the international sale of conflict diamonds, which the process defines as gems used by rebel movements to finance conflicts aimed at undermining legitimate governments.
By Ndi Eugene Ndi in Yaounde

Nkambe: Farmer Tanto Hands Botanical Garden to the Council

The ‘Choua choua’ botanical Garden was handed to the Nkambe Council by the Founder Farmer Tantoh of CYFA, an NGO with a branch office in Winsconston USA, in an official Ceremony presided at by the Divisional Officer Nkambe in the presence of Divisional Delegates of MINEDEP, MINFOF, MINADER, the Divisional President of CNYC Donga Mantung, Marcel Abanda, Sub chiefs of Binju and others. 
Farmer Tantoh before handing the documents to the Mayor of Nkambe presented the conception of the Garden which was conceived by him in 1999 and approved by Nkambe Council in 2006 with the aim of creating a community centre and a place where the environment is cherished.  In the memorandum of agreement, he (Nformba Diedonne Tantoh Alias Farmer Tanto) conditioned that the council should deploy three staff including a Manager to keep the Garden up to date. This Gardern should not be politicized.
The Environment Delegate reiterated the importance of the “Town Green” and said his Ministry is supporting councils in such ventures. He continued that the Ministry of Environment had supported farmer Tantoh in one of his trips abroad where he won a medal. The beneficiary of the Garden Nkambe Council Mayor Ngabir Paul Banter in a joyous mode appreciated the gift and promised the donor that the Nkambe council will continue with the vision of famer Tantoh:
“We talk about Youth unemployment, everybody is moving with a bag of documents and all the like; this is a gentlemen who has travelled all over the world by creating an image for himself in this self employed idea.  “I am a personal beneficiary of farmer Tantoh standing here for the daughter who is a Journalist wrote about farmer Tantoh and won a Prize which she receives at the African Union Head Quarters”.
The Mayor highlighted the importance of the Garden to the Council and accepted to abide by the terms of the memorandum of understanding. He promised that the Nkambe council will do more and will work with other partners for the success and extension of the Garden and to maintain the heritage, adding that with ANAFOR, the council has applied for 30.000 trees to protect the water catchment in Nkambe Town for CDE to have water to sell the population.
The DO highly appreciated the donor for initiating and handing over the project to the council. “It is the Nkambe council contribution toward the State in the fight against Biodiversity conservation. The garden will be one of the main components of Nkambe Council’s identity”. He assured Tanto that the administration will follow up the success of the Garden.
By Marcel Abanda in Nkambe

The Guardian Post Achievement Award: How and why Ndansi Elvis Emerged Cameroon’s Most Dynamic Youth Leader

Ndansi Elvis (L),Receiving his trophy from Gov. Fonka's Representative
(NewsWatch Cameroon)--After compiling and counting votes from Cameroonians, a jury made of prominent journalists from the public and private media in the country, Ndansi Elvis, emerged winner of The Guardian Post 2013 Most Dynamic Youth Leader. This according to the Secretary General of the jury, Richard Nde Lanjong who said he was voted “for successfully implanting the youth wing of the NUDP party in the two Anglophone regions and beyond”.
In fact, Ndansi is the first Anglophone to have ever occupied the position of national youth president of the NUDP, a party erroneously considered by many to be an affair of “Maiguidas” (Northerners). Like the famous Aristotle once said, all human beings are politicians yet what distinguishes some politicians from the madding crowd is their approach to politics. Ndansi’s approach to politics is certainly what has pulled most Cameroonian youth to join the ranks of the NUDP party especially in the two Anglophone regions of Cameroon. He is a frontline militant of his party but even his adversaries from both the ruling party and elsewhere admire his approach to politics which is void of rancour and bitterness.
Though the NUDP National youth president who contested the 2013 legislative elections in the Donga Mantung West constituency was not successful, he has not relented in his efforts aimed at recruiting more militants for the NUDP party of Bello Bouba Maigari.
The NUDP staged a spectacular march past in Buea during the National Youth Day on February 11 and the 50th anniversary of reunification. Observers say it is thanks to the mobilisation prowess of the National Youth wing president who was the party’s coordinator for participation at both events.
Many would have thought that after two unsuccessful attempts at the municipal and legislative elections under the NUDP party, Ndansi would quit, but this has not been the case. He remains focused and continues implanting the party in the Anglophone regions and beyond.
In a New Year wishes exchange ceremony between the NUDP chairman and his militants in Yaounde earlier this year, hundreds of youths from the North West, South West and Littoral regions who joined the party recently as a result of Ndansi’s efforts were officially welcomed into the NUDP by its National Chair. The National Youth President of the NUDP, Ndansi Elvis said many more youths are joining the party, and called on the youths of Cameroon to come on board for as he puts it  “the NUDP is one of the only parties where youths can freely express their political feelings and enjoy what it takes to be a youth in politics”.
Ndansi thus, was not voted as most dynamic youth leader of the year 2013 by chance; as observers say his award is meritorious.
Following his election to the post of National Youth President of the NUDP party in February 2012, Ndansi Elvis was crowned, "Tamfu", by the Donga Mantung warriors society (Mfuh) of Bamenda in November of same year.
As their warrior, Tamfu Ndansi Elvis  was urged to fight relentlessly not only in the field of politics, and make the Donga Mantung warriors society, “Mfuh” proud and the award by the guardian post media group, traditionalists say, is a “big catch” that makes not only the winner but the entire division proud.
This paper therefore joins the jury of the guardian post achievement awards 2013 to say congratulations, Tamfu Ndansi.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Upheaval in Nguti: Impoverished Communities Urge Banishment of Herakles Farms

Babensi 2 Villagers Marching to the D.O's Office
(NewsWatch Cameroon)-A demonstration the likes of which had never been seen before in that locality was witnessed in Babensi 2 village last Friday April 4 when more than 300 people staged a protest march against the American agro-industrial company Herakles Farm (Sithe Global Sustainable Oils Cameroon - SG SOC), a local branch of Herakles Farms in Cameroon. In a move that observers described as a repeat of the land crisis that struck Bakweri indigenes and the Cameroon Development Corporation, CDC, the people of Babensi 2 village, in Nguti sub division faulted the public authorities for turning a blind eye to the encroachment into their land by the American agro industrial company.
Holding up placards bearing messages such as; “SG SOC is out to kill the Babensi 2 man, they are cutting down our cocoa farms as well as destroying our timber and non-timber products….”, the villagers marched with petitions to the offices of the Divisional officer, the Gendarmerie Brigade commander and the Chief of Public security for the area, calling on them to stop Herakles Farms from carrying on with their “nefarious activities”.
According to Afue Divine Ejabi who led the protest march, the locals are insistent that the American company quit their land for “they do not have any convention with the Babensi 2 people”.
“The Babensi man has never signed any convention with SG SOC”, Divine maintained. “Today however, they are on our land, destroying our timber as well as all our non-timber products. This is not correct”.
Although Divine is aware that the American agro industrial company has signed a convention with the government of Cameroon which underpins the establishment of an oil plantation in some parts of the Southwest region, including Nguti, he is utterly dismissive of an agreement which has no legitimacy in the eyes of the locals. The leader of the protest told NewsWatch that they are calling on the administration to find an immediate solution that would lead to the ousting of the American company from their forest… without which they would be up in arms against the company.
But the villagers are also demanding that even before SG SOC leaves, the company should make available compensation for the “damage” already caused to their forest. From the messages displayed during the protest march, Babensi 2 inhabitants are bent on having SG SOC pay for all the devastation that has been wreaked by Herakles - the destruction of cocoa farms as well as timber and non-timber forest products…
“We cannot even eat bush meat; we don’t have good drinking water because SG SOC has polluted all the water supplies, our shrines have been destroyed due to the cutting down of our forest by SG SOC….have you forgotten that we are in Africa?” Divine questioned further.
One of the protesters, nonagenarian Mami Aginess Ejuba sounded a note of warning over the fate of their children should SG SOC continue its activities in Babensi 2 village. “We di still born pikin them - wusai them go get bush…” she said.
According to the old woman, the locals make their living from non timber products in the forest like “njangsa”, pepper, mangoes, plantains, cassava, etc. Allowing a company like SG SOC to cut down the forest for a palm plantation is an insidious way of “killing” them.
Like most others, Mami Aginess maintained that Babensi 2 does not want “American Development”; people merely want the forest which is their only source of income to remain intact so they can sustain their families.
“Now that SG SOC has destroyed all the timber, our children will not have timber in future when they will be constructing their houses; do you call that development?” she asked?
In conformity with the other protesters, Mr. John Ebenki said the felling of the forest by SG SOC has had many negative effects on the population. “The community has been exposed to diseases like onchocerciasis spread by the black fly which is terribly detrimental to human health - these trees could serve as a useful barrier against such mishaps…”
Mr. Ebenki who regretted that some medicinal tree species that used to exist in their forest can no longer be found also protested because the sap from the trees being “destroyed” by SG SOC has damaged local water supplies, rendering them “non-potable”.
Though the protesters did not meet the Divisional Officer for Nguti in his office, they were received by his assistant who indicated that their complaint will be forwarded to the appropriate quarters.
Efforts to reach officials of SG SOC in Nguti by this reporter yielded no fruits.
Herakles Farms was established in Cameroon in 2009, a year after the onset of a terrible global food crisis which affected the country like most parts of the world. More than 200 people were killed by security forces in Cameroon when they rose up in arms to protests against sudden food price hikes.
In accepting the offer of Herakles Farms to produce palm oil, the original objective of the Cameroon government was to create employment in the area and bring in some much needed foreign capital. Since then however, most of the villagers, environmental activists and some foreign organizations have been scathing in their criticism of the project. 
In May 2013, Herakles Farms’ activities were suspended in Cameroon following a government injunction which analysts qualified as a response to pressure groups. But the ban was lifted that same month.
In November of the same year, President Paul Biya signed three decrees granting Herakles Farms a temporal concession of 19,843 hectares of land for three years in in Mundemba, Toko and Nguti Subdivisions.
By Ndi Eugene Ndi, just back from Babensi 2-in Nguti

Local Communities Empowered as VPA Project Goes Operational

Illegal Logging in the Congo Basin is Rife
(NewsWatch Cameroon)-According to the World Bank, an estimated $10-15 billion is annually lost worldwide due to illegal logging, with close to $5 billion lost due to corruption resulting from the failure to collect taxes and royalties on legally sanctioned timber harvests. In the opinion of the officials of that institution, , such losses of state revenue prevent the timber-rich Congo Basin governments from meeting development goals.
Poor and disadvantaged communities suffer the most from poor governance of the forest sector, especially as they are denied active participation in decision-making processes concerning their land and resources.
It was against this backdrop of increasing loss of revenue and the lack of concern for the rights of indigenous peoples in forest exploitation that the project for the implementation of the Congo Basin Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) championing Peoples’ Rights and Participation was put in place.
The project also seeks to contribute to strong inclusive VPA processes that guide and frame effective implementation of Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) in Cameroon and in the Central African Republic. Moreover, it aims at ensuring that the capacity of civil society organizations (CSO) and indigenous peoples is built through contributing to development as well as through the implementation and monitoring of VPAs.
The project which will be implemented by some six NGOs and CSOs for a period of 30 months was launched in the presence of members of government and the diplomatic corps in Yaounde on Wednesday March 26, 2014.
Denis Koulagna Koutou, Secretary General at the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife who chaired the launching ceremony on behalf of his Minister pointed out that the VPA signed by the government and the EU included a clause stipulating that local communities and all stakeholders must be consulted. The launching of the Congo Basin VPA Implementation project championing Peoples’ Rights and Participation is therefore in line with government’s agreement with the EU. “During the implementation of this project, we will always have to consult the local communities and this will be through the civil society”
The VPA was signed in 2010 and was expected to go operational in 2013”, the Secretary General said. “We took time because there were some adjustments that had to be made. With this kind of commitment, you need to have tools so that you can attract the wood from the forest to the ports. We were able to do that but this project could not go well because we did not have a tool that could trace Cameroonian wood”.
According to the Project Manager, Dr. Aurelian Mbzibain, the initiative is working with the two national NGOs CED and FODER as well as with others in the Central African Republic.
As regards how the project will incorporate indigenous forest people, the project manager said:
 “Our national partners have longstanding experience in working with forest communities and it is important to understand that culturally, many of these communities have a right to self-representation. It is a gradual process of working with them to ensure that a system of representation is put in place”.
The project is led by the University of Wolverhampton’s Centre for International Development and Training in the United Kingdom, with 80% of funding from the European Union and DFID UK.
Karl Rawert, head of the Environment and Rural Development section of the European Union Delegation in Cameroon said “the EU has a longstanding engagement for the protection of the environment and particularly the protection of the rain forest in Central Africa and elsewhere”.
The Congo Basin VPA project championing Forest Peoples’ Rights and an associated Participation Project was evaluated last year amongst several others and was deemed worthy of financing by the EU.
By Ndi Eugene Ndi in Yaounde