At the24th Annual General Meeting of the African Export-Import Bank(Afrexim), held in Rwanda, Tony O. Elumelu, CON, Chairman of Heirs Holdings and the Tony Elumelu Foundation, congratulatedAfrexim for the critical supportthat the Bank, led by President Oramah, provides for African businesses and its significant contribution to the development of cross-border trade and investment in Africa.
Mr Elumelu highlighted the role of African institutions, such asAfrexim,commenting that the Bank’s mission wasfurther evidence of Africa’s own ability to provide long-term, strategic financing to Africa’s economic and social development. “Afrexim brings a unique and highly relevant perspective to the challenge of supporting intra-African trade flow and ensuring value is created in and exported from our Continent” said Mr Elumelu. “I urge other development finance institutions, particularly the Bank’s African peers, to follow its example in providing transformational forms of funding to African businesses.”
Mr Elumeluspokeon the topic “Cross-Border Investments as a Driver of Intra-African Trade and Industrialisation: Reflections from a Continental Business Leader", where he championed the agenda of the private sector, as the key contributor to Africa's ability to attract and implement sustainable investment. Mr Elumelu, who created Heirs Holdings, cited hisownapproach to long-term investment in critical sectors, such as power, finance and resources,across twenty African countries. According to Mr Elumelu, Africa mustgrow cross-border trade and investment, and attract both local and international investors.
“An investment is not just about profit and returns. It is also about sustainability,” he explained. “What I want to see is Africans investing in Africa. We appreciate and welcome partnerships, but there is a generation of African businessmen and women, who have the capability and ambition to lead and transform Africa’s future. Let your money work in Africa”.
Elumelu also highlighted the importance of entrepreneurship. "We know the challenge and potential of Africa’s demographic explosion. That is why the Tony Elumelu Foundation is catalysing 1,000 entrepreneurs each year, with the objective of assisting 10,000 entrepreneurs over 10 years. Invest in the future, our youth," he told delegates.
The meeting also witnessed the signing of aUS$100million facility between Afrexim and Heirs Holdings. This initial transaction, between Heirs Holdings and Afrexim, was, said Elumelu, “Just the beginning and a clear indication of the intent and capacity of both parties to identify means to grow Africa’s wealth and create sustainable business opportunities over time. We welcome this and hope this serves as an example to others”.
Mr.Elumelu tasked more African Development Institutions to fund intra-Africa trade and businesses in a manner which will boost and embolden African business leaders and facilitate the further development of Africa's economy. The $100 million facility is to further support Heirs Holdings cross border investment programme. Heirs Holdings Limited is a pan African investment proprietary holding company with a portfolio of investments in 20 African countries, in key sectors of the African economy – Energy, financial services, real estate and hospitality. Elumelu commented further that support from African DFIs like the Afrexim bank are often symbolic - being less about the size of the cheque and more often because such support acts as a catalyst to other providers of investible capital.
Mr Elumelu concluded by calling for African leaders doing businesses across borders, to build legacies and focus on corporate governance, while building businesses that last. "It's all about legacy. We need to think about how history will judge us,” he stated.
Themed “Trade and Economic Transformation”, this year’s Afrexim Annual General Meeting gathered level leaders from the public and private sectors, African Ministers of Finance, Trade and Investment, Central Bank Governors, Senior Government Officials, in a series of panel discussions to grow intra and extra-regional trade in Africa. The Meeting was opened by His Excellency, Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda who invited Africans present to invest in Rwanda. Other guests at the event included H. E. President OlusegunObasanjo, Former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; John Rwangombwa, Central Bank Governor of Rwanda and AlhajiAlikoDangote, Chairman, Dangote Group.
ABOUT HEIRS HOLDINGS
Heirs Holdings is an African proprietary investment company, with interests in power, oil and gas, financial services, hospitality, real estate and healthcare, present in twenty African countries. The Group’s operations are inspired by the economic philosophy of Africapitalism, which positions the private sector as the key enabler of economic and social wealth creation in Africa.
" I believe strongly that the crisis can be resolved; but it would have to be through genuine and inclusive dialogue in which the relevant segments of society are duly represented. Lives have been lost, property destroyed, academic years disrupted and even the functioning of courts and other public services negatively impacted; so this can no longer be treated as a simple case of corporatist demands. Huge segments of the population have lost confidence in the government’s ability to cater to their needs or heed their desire for their rights to be respected." Christopher Formunyoh was speaking in a exclusive interview with Hommes D'afrique Magazine
The English-speaking part of Cameroon is enduring a prolonged crisis. When did it start? What is the cause of the problem?
The current crisis burst to the surface in October 2016, provoked by grievances expressed by lawyers with regards to the application of Common Law in English speaking regions of Cameroon, and by teachers with regards to the role of the English language and the protection of the Anglo-Saxon curriculum in schools and colleges in the same regions of the country. These grievances had been simmering for many years. The brutality of the security services in responding to the actions of these two groups then sparked a general revolt within a population that has been feeling aggrieved and disaffected with the management of political power in Cameroon. It is unfortunate that lives have been lost in the process, properties have been destroyed and hundreds of Anglophone Cameroonians are now in detention, many of whom are being tried before a military tribunal in Yaounde on charges of terrorism and insurrection.
How would you qualify the response of the government to the crisis?
The government response showed a lot of weaknesses at the beginning of the crisis, perhaps because it hoped the crisis could be swept under the rug. First, there was the use of excessive brute force on university students and unarmed civilians who were demonstrating peacefully for their rights. Secondly, some government officials made very spiteful public statements that further inflamed tensions by claiming there was no marginalization of Anglophones in Cameroon, and this led many people to conclude that the government had underestimated the degree to which Anglophone Cameroonians are disaffected with its approach to governance over the past five decades. In more recent weeks, some actions have been taken by the government to address some of the specific demands by lawyers and teachers. However, it is difficult to imagine a definitive resolution of the ongoing crisis without a comprehensive approach that tackles all the issues raised through an inclusive and open dialogue with the most aggrieved parties and other Anglophone leaders. Needless to say that some of the solutions being proposed by the government are being undermined by the fact that highly respected Anglophone lawyers, University lecturers, teachers and civic leaders are still in detention in Yaounde. I see their unconditional release as a confidence building measure that could facilitate further dialogue, and I have publicly called on the government to do that.
Could you give the historical context that may help everyone to understand the crisis?
The question of Anglophone marginalization in Cameroon has been recurrent at various points since independence in 1960, and reunification of the two Cameroons in 1961. Over time, these grievances have been exacerbated, notably by the dissolution of the Federal Republic of Cameroon in 1972 and its transformation into a unitary state; and then the changing of the country’s name in 1984 from “the United Republic of Cameroon” to just “the Republic of Cameroon” – which incidentally was the name of French speaking Cameroon prior to reunification in 1961. By this change, the government opened itself to criticism by many Anglophones that it no longer had regard for Anglophone Cameroonians. Moreover, over the years, Anglophones have felt shut out of senior government positions as illustrated by the fact that today, the most senior Anglophone is the fourth in line of state protocol, and not even in the line of presidential succession, as opposed to the second position that was initially written into the federal constitution of 1961. Also, only one Anglophone is a cabinet minister with a full portfolio in the current government (of about 40 ministers with portfolios), and that is the Minister of Forestry and Wildlife. For many Anglophones, this is a marginalization gone too far.
How is the crisis affecting the rest of Cameroon?
Media discussions around the crisis have provided an opportunity for many Cameroonians of the younger generation in all 10 regions of the country to gain insights into the country’s history. The crisis has also spurred leaders from other regions of the country -- within political parties, academia, civil society and religious bodies -- to speak out for social justice and equity. For example, when internet was shut down for three months in Anglophone regions of the country, some of the strongest advocates against that act of collective punishment and deprivation were fellow Cameroonians from other regions of the country, including many that are based in foreign countries such as France, Germany, Belgium, the United Kingdom and the United States. There’s no doubt that fellow Cameroonians in the other regions who have relatives and friends in the two Anglophone regions also feel the pinch, just as the slowdown in business in these regions has negatively impacted the economy of the country as a whole.
What has so far been the African and the international reaction to that crisis? How do you appreciate that reaction?
Africa and the world at large seem to be so consumed by other burning global crises that little attention is being paid to the situation in Cameroon. Of course, the special representative of the United Nations Secretary General for the Central Africa sub region visited the country at the peak of the crisis and may have contributed to the calming of tensions and lifting of the internet shut down. Some foreign governments issued statements through their embassies in Yaounde, but the overall response has been timid. Perhaps this is a sign that everyone hopes we would resolve the crisis without further loss of life and other forms of violence.
What solution would you propose for the crisis?
I believe strongly that the crisis can be resolved; but it would have to be through genuine and inclusive dialogue in which the relevant segments of society are duly represented. Lives have been lost, property destroyed, academic years disrupted and even the functioning of courts and other public services negatively impacted; so this can no longer be treated as a simple case of corporatist demands. Huge segments of the population have lost confidence in the government’s ability to cater to their needs or heed their desire for their rights to be respected. As Cameroonians, we therefore have an obligation to create an enabling environment in which all of the grievances raised can be thoroughly discussed and mutually agreeable solutions found. If citizens in Anglophone regions feel alienated from the Yaounde-based government, signing numerous decrees in Yaounde regarding the crisis while keeping Anglophone leaders in jail will not resolve the grievances. This is the 21st century and citizens are demanding for their voices to be heard and for their dignity to be respected. They want a seat at the table, and democratic governments have learned to provide the appropriate space for diverse viewpoints to be heard and integrated into decision making. I therefore believe that only through the creation of such proper space for healthy, constructive, and all-inclusive dialogue can we, as Cameroonians, find a common understanding on the way forward. Our forefathers negotiated important transactions with the colonial powers, and the generation of our fathers negotiated independence and reunification; there is therefore no reason why our generation which is more educated and better equipped than they were should be denied the opportunity to also hammer out the rules that will determine and guide our future wellbeing. You cannot deny a whole generation that opportunity, especially when their demand is inspired by a genuine desire to rectify the failures and shortcomings of past decades.
Since independence in 1960, Cameroon has been ruled by only two presidents -- Ahmadou Ahidjo from 1960 to 1982, and then Paul Biya from that date up to today. What explains this fact? What are its consequences on Cameroon’s political and economic life?
Your question definitely captures the very limited space for political entrepreneurship in Cameroon. Our inability to regularly renew political leadership in the country has led us to where we are today. We are governed by octogenarians whereas close to 60/65 percent of the population is less that 30 years old. Since independence, Cameroon as a country never experienced a peaceful transfer of power through the ballot box although Anglophone Cameroon did at the sub-national level. On the other hand, for African countries such as Senegal, Ghana, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Botswana, Kenya, Nigeria, Niger, Mali, Mauritius, South Africa, the alternation of political leadership is commonplace. Democracy in these African countries and lots more is vibrant; ours in Cameroon is on life support. This state of affairs has a chilling effect on our ability to thrive as a people. We are a country of giants suffocating under the yoke of sit-tight, autocratic old men, whose inability to live up to citizens’ expectations inhibit our ability to shine as a nation. This prevailing sense of lack of opportunity and political uncertainty also impacts negatively on the attractiveness of whatever business and investment opportunities we have but that are not being fully exploited.
Presidential elections will be held in Cameroon in October 2018. Paul Biya, who will be 85 years old then will probably run for another seven-year term. Previous election results in Cameroon have been disputed because of fraud and the absence of a level playing field for candidates. What must be done to level the playing field during the competition and during the counting of the ballots?
The need for electoral reform in Cameroon is long overdue. Many political parties and civil society organizations have drafted proposals on amendments that could improve the electoral framework and conditions for free and fair elections. I have always said that it is better to have a common understanding of the ground rules before we go into elections than to spend energy and resources managing post election crises because of failed or flawed polls. Cameroonians are clamouring for change. They are restive about the desire that it happen through the ballot box, and I hope that using modern technology, the election management body (ELECAM) and citizens groups would enhance transparency in the entire process so that the accuracy of the outcome is not in doubt, and the result is accepted peacefully by all parties and candidates. Cameroon’s track record on competitive presidential elections is abysmal, but the world is fast changing and global trends favor the younger generation who form the bulk of our demographics; and therefore extraordinary steps must be taken to make sure the 2018 polls are different from past experiences.
In the lead up to the 2011 presidential election, rumors circulated that you would run. You didn’t. Why? Would you run for the next presidential election in 2018?
October 2011 is behind us and, at the time, I did explain to my fellow compatriots during a press conference in Douala why I did not present my candidacy then. Six, seven years since that time, the situation of the country has changed dramatically. Cameroonians are worse off today than they were six years ago. Democracy in our country is under serious threat. Political space is shrinking everyday and political parties, human rights organizations, the media and youth across the entire country can attest to that. Citizens in various sectors of society -- health, education, the private sector, etc -- are restless about their conditions of life and wellbeing, and prospects for their future. Add to that the Anglophone crisis we just discussed, and superimpose on all that the existential threats of violent extremism and Boko Haram in the northern part of the country and cross border insecurity from neighboring Central African Republic in the Eastern part of the country. Obviously, it goes without saying that the stress level for the country is high. Under such circumstances, Cameroonians are yearning for new ideas and new faces at the helm. They are asking committed, patriotic citizens to make their utmost contributions at the right time to improve the future wellbeing of their fellow country men and women. I owe it to my fellow compatriots to make my expertise and experience, and my global relationships available to them in what must be a collective effort or endeavor to redeem the fate and future of our beloved country.
Is that why you launched your personal Foundation in Cameroon, even as you continue to work for the National Democratic Institute (NDI) across the continent?
In fact, the Fomunyoh Foundation (www.tffcam.org) was launched in 1999 for the purpose of improving the wellbeing of my fellow compatriots. It is a non-profit organization whose activities are very much focused on humanitarian causes, education, civil society capacity building and cultural development. I see the Foundation as an opportunity for me to give back to my Cameroonian community on the home front, and I am extremely pleased that since its launch 18 years ago, we have conducted activities in all 10 regions of the country, in partnership with educational institutions, traditional authorities, youth and women organizations. I am humbled and truly gratified that all of the Foundation’s activities are always highly appreciated by the populations we serve. As I have gone across the country, I see that the population’s needs are enormous, and we therefore plan to continue to do more in the years to come.
source: Hommes D'Afrique Magazine N° 98 July 2017
Education authorities have been popping champagne over what they say is a successful conduct of official exams in the Anglophone regions despites arsons, threats and ghost towns. But the fate of students and pupils in promotion classes still lies on a balance and that has made their joy short-lived . We have learnt government is considering a political decision for pupils and students in the North West and South West regions over their academic fate. Following the Anglophone crisis which has grounded schools in the Anglophone regions since November last year, the government will decide whether untaught students will move to the next class or repeat.
Secondary and Basic education Ministers are due to make a trip to the North West and South West regions in days ahead to discuss with regional officials on the fate of students and pupils in promotion classes on the issue. The resolution of this forum will be forwarded by the Ministers to government for a decision to be made.
Authorities of Confessional schools on their part say it is abnormal for untaught students to gain promotion. They maintain that the only measuring rod to rate students is exams and if there is no exams the they have to repeat. These religious schools were not part of this year's public exams because their students were not taught.
In the meantime, heads of Government primary, secondary and High schools were expected to send a detailed report of how their institutions have fared during the crisis to the Ministries of Basic and Secondary education . This will also enable Government better know the approach to take to decide the fate of pupils and students in these troubled regions.
A private member’s bill seeking to protect the rights of internet users in Cameroon will soon be tabled at the National Assembly for scrutiny.
Arrangements for the tabling of the bill, an initiative of Bamenda-based non-governmental organization, A Common Future, The Cameroon Journal learnt yesterday, are far advanced.
Colbert Gwain Fulai, founder and Executive Director of A Common Future said recently that should the bill sail through, issues such as internet shutdown and surveillance by government should be brought under control.
Going by a draft of the bill titled “Creating a ‘Digital Bill of Rights’ for Cameroon: Why do we need it and what should we include?” the initiators disclosed that amongst other things, it seeks to ensure that the civil and human rights that apply in the physical world also apply online.
The bill, they said, also aims to establish the key rights that are particular to the digital sphere, ensure greater transparency around the ways in which government and private companies use personal data as well as protect and control citizens to take control of their own personal data and to make information choices about their digital lives.
In an introductory note, the initiators wrote: “Drawing from the sad experience of an unprecedented internet shutdown in parts of Cameroon and the human, economic, social, cultural and political consequences on Cameroon, this bill sets forth principles, guarantees, rights and duties for the use of the internet in Cameroon and establishes guidelines for action by government and its citizens in relation to the internet so that internet shutdowns do not become the new common in this nation.”
President Paul Biya ordered the restoration of internet services in the northwest and southwest regions of the country on April 20, 93 days after government shutdown the facility following protests in the Anglophone regions of the country.
The internet blackout was met with criticism and even more protests as regions unaffected by the shutdown led an online #BringBackOurInternet campaign to restore internet services to Anglophone regions. Rebecca Enonchong, a Cameroonian tech entrepreneur, said the campaign “was an expression of solidarity for those in the no-internet zones.” She told Quartz, “The millions of tweets of support gave them hope.” The blackout was also condemned by internet advocacy groups and United Nations officials, who described it as a rights violation.
Despite the blackout, some Cameroonian startups found ways to get online by creating an internet refugee camp On an even brighter note, during the shutdown, 17-year-old Nji Collins Gbah, whose hometown was cut off the internet, emerged as the first African winner in Google’s annual coding competition.
Cameroon has never adopted a Private member bill and at a time when government has announced sanctions to those who publish "false" information on social media, its certain the bill might have a tough fence to scale through from the CPDM dorminate house.
Cameroon's state media, the Cameroon Radio Television, CRTV has effected a change in perosnel. Following a decision Thursday June 29, new persons were appointed to positions in the outfit. The most conspicious change was Adele Mbala.
The former 8:30 French language news presenter on CRTV, Adele Mbala has been replaced as Director of TV information weeks after she was suspended from presentation for announcing a fake list of new members of the government of French leader, President Emmanuel Macron on May 15,2017.
The appointment comes after an extra-ordinary session of the Board chaired by Issa Tchiroma Bakary, the Board chairman.Adele Mbala was replaced by Jean Atangana who was already serving retirement. Adele now heads of the communication Department of CRTV.
The TV Editor-In-Chief Jean Marie Nka’a who was present on the fateful day the news was read has also been replaced.
Alain Belibi and Ibrahim Sherif were maintained in their positions of Central Television and Radio Directors respectively, not surprising to many observers.
Anglophones yet again missed out on the most juicy positions. No Cameroonian from the English speaking regions was named to the Central Services of the state Corporation.
Key Changes Below:
Directeur central radio: Alain Belibi
Directeur des rédactions radio: Madeleine Soppi Koto
Directeur central Tv: Ibrahim Shérif
Directeur des rédactions Tv: Jean Atangana
Directeur délégué à l'Ifcpa: Marc Modzom
Chefs de station
Crtv Extrême-Nord: Mme Moussa Marandata
Crtv Nord: Bertin Ayangma
Crtv Adamaoua: Lazare Filou
Crtv Centre: Gisèle Nemi Nga
Crtv Sud: Berthe Mballa
Crtv Est: Kelvin Mbounda
Crtv Ouest: René Njoya Mot
Crtv Nord-Ouest: Marie Louise Gbwa Cheka
Crtv Sud-Ouest: Kangue William Wassa Loko
Crtv Littoral: Nalova Mokake
Chaîne régionale Littoral: Jean Marie Nka
Chefs de chaînes
Fm94 Yaounde: Sidonie Sikoa
Fm105 Douala: Leonardo Châtelain
Fm Mt Cameroun Buea: Evelyne Ngo Lambidjek
Poala Fm Bafoussam: Mary Lum Azonga
Fm Kribi: Fredy Melingui
Fm Kousseri: Saïd Abdelkarim
Fm Yagoua: Djamo Haman
Justice Ayah Paul Abine who has been in detention for close to six months has been rushed to a local hospital in Yaoundé for medical attention after a suspected heart attack.His press office reports.He is currently receiving medical attention at the Intensive unit.
Ayah Paul had earlier today reacted to Paul Biya's decision sending him on retirement . In a post on his official Facebook page, the now former Supreme Court Advocate General raised concerns why he was flushed out at 67 while his colleagues older than him are still in office with some promoted in the recent shakeup of judicial personnel in the country.
On a sarcastic note, Ayah Paul observed that 16 high ranking officers were swept by the whirl wind, a move which ought to have created room for junior colleagues to climb the ladder of succession. But the wind was too strong for, Joseph Essomba , Jean Akame Foumane ,Daniel Mokobe Sone and Arrey Florence Rita.
To Ayah, it was more than a feat they made it out of the chopping board.
Full declaration below:
" My judicial tsunami did sweep away 16 high – ranking members of the judiciary of retirement age. That ipso facto created room for the junior members of the profession to climb to or towards the apex.
At 66, turning 67 in the coming hours, Ayah wishes to congratulate the following more elderly colleagues of his who, despite their more advanced ages, did miraculously ward off the tsunami:
– Joseph Essomba, aged 80;
– Jean Foumane Akame, aged 78;
– Daniel Mekobe Sone, aged 72;
– Arrey Florence Rita, aged 70.
Their survival was more than just a feat!
All that is reminiscent of the baffling intrigues of life. Some unlucky people see their empires disintegrate before their own very eyes to their utter hopelessness and chagrin. Others plan to build their empires only for them to predecease the emergence of such empires.
I should count myself lucky that the cornerstone to my dream empire has been laid in my lifetime.
Is not it true that about a year ago, Ayah contended that the Supreme Court in its form then could not do justice to litigants of the Common Law jurisdiction? And don’t we have a Common Law department of that court today, at least on paper?
Did I not similarly assert that it was INTOLLERABLE that, in a dual legal system, namely the Common Law and Civil Law, the Supreme Court and all its divisions should be headed exclusively by judges of only one of the systems: the Civil Law?
But truly do we observe today that my senior at the Federal Bilingual Grammer School, Man O’War Bay, and in the profession, His Lordship, Mr Justice Epuli Mathias, heads one of the most prestigious Divisions of the court: the Criminal Division!
Much as those are right steps in the right direction, I still hold tenaciously to the desire that it may please the Most High to grant me the time, the means and the energy to get those steps and more Common Law values and principles enshrined in a constitutional framework.
And so shall it hopefully be as God is good!"