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Monday, October 15, 2012

Indomitable Lions,Roulette Camerounaise

Monday October 15, a day of silence, and collective shame for Cameroon. The Central African nation that has often drawn its inspiration and meaning from football glory, suffered another humiliation, a second successive failure to qualify for the African nations Cup.

The Indomitable Lions’ 2-1 win over the Island nation Cap Verde, Sunday, in Yaounde was too little too late. The 2-0 away leg loss in Praia, was the undoing of Cameroon. The firing of French manager Denis Lavagne, and the mending of broken relations between skipper Eto’o Fils and whomsoever, and the impressive home support were all insufficient to spur the Indomitable Lions to the minimum three goal margin win they needed to qualify for South Africa 2013. Mission Impossible Could Cameroon win Cap Verde by a margin of three goals? For diehards of the Indomitable Lions, Yes, for unemotional observers, No. In September 2011, Cameroon beat another Island nation Mauritius Island 5-0, as they struggled in the previous African Nations Cup qualifier. That was the last big win, for a team not known for its offensive power, and that has suffered putrid in-fighting since the South Africa 2010 World Cup. In fact Cameroon in its glory days defended well, kept clean sheets, and scored just enough goals to move on. Against Cap Verde, they took a goal within the first quarter, in a game in which Cameroon had to score and not be scored against. A quick equaliser by Achille Emana kept the faltering flame of hope burning, but the team’s lack of incisiveness quickly indicated it was not going to be a high-scoring game. The Indomitable Lions only scored again in extra time. By then thousands of fans had left the stadium heads down. Hope had fled with them. A thunderstorm broke. Actually the Sunday afternoon rainstorm over Yaounde watered down the embers of hope left in the stadium, and drenched the fur of the tamed lions, clutching desperately at the quick Cap Verdeans. It may have helped diffuse the anger of fans that made it to the Ahmadou Ahidjo stadium. The security deployment around the federation head office, the lions’ hotel and the stadium spoke to the fear of crowd trouble, from the fans who felt their lions were injured in the first leg but not defeated. For them, reality was just beginning to sink in. Failure sank in with heavier raindrops, and the fans most of whom left the stadium early, fled for shelter. The weather many observers think actually took the momentum out of the fans who have in the past pelted the team bus and destroyed players’ property in similar situations. An almost apologetic Samuel Eto’o said in a post-match press conference that ‘it could happen’, referring to the failure to qualify. Jean Paul Akono, in his defence asked the media if they would have been firing at him had the result been different. The hubris of the defeated. The outcome was certainly not positive, leaving the media licence to shoot and Akono whom many think was given a poisoned gift, needed to show more humility for failing to deliver the result he had been over-confident about.
His decision to recall ageing players in the name of experience can legitimately be criticized after the team failed to produce the result. He owes the fans a more humble and reasonable explanation for the poor performance. This leaves us with some perspective. To look ahead we must also look behind. Samuel Eto’o’s condemnation of the ‘amateurish’ management of football by the federation still remains unanswered. Cameroon’s team, now an assortment of players has no starting eleven, a team that plays together, regularly enough to get big wins against ‘minnows’.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Light It Up

Memve’ele, Lom Pangar, Mekin the energy backbone With a hydropower potential second only to the DRC in Africa, Cameroon’s energy like almost everything else in the country is an impressive but hugely untapped resource. Only 14 percent of rural people in the country the World Bank says have access to energy. Power is costly and outages are a common occurrence in its towns and cities. It’s a cliché in Cameroon people glued to football games on television in homes and pubs applaud whenever electricity returns after a blackout. In fact, the national electricity grid runs principally from Douala to Yaounde and from Yaounde to Bafoussam, leaving most other areas in the dark or with diesel-generated electricity. Until now, the electricity that lights up parts of Cameroon has been supplied mainly by two hydroelectric stations on the Sanaga River, nearly 60% of it is gulped up by the aluminium smelter at Edea. In the 1980s, hydroelectric capacity was expanded by an additional complex on the Sanaga River (Song-Loulou) and a 72 MW generator (built with Chinese aid) on the Benoue River. Cameroon's power capacity was 810 MW in 2002, for which output for that year was 3.249 TWh, of which about 90% was from hydropower and the remainder from fossil fuels. Consumption amounted to 3.022 TWh in 2002.
Memve’ele, Lom Pangar and Mekin hold the future of the Cameroon Energy Plan. In two months President Paul Biya has laid the foundation stone of the first two waterpower projects, preparations are on course for the third. Memve’ele: 201 MW increase in electricity is located on the Ntem River in the South region of Cameroon. The 35m high dam worth 420 billion CFAF is the biggest of the three hydropower projects underway. Lom Pangar: 120 MW increase in electricity generation at two existing hydropower plants which will improve the reliability of power supply for up to five million Cameroonians and help to lower the cost of power. And a 30 MW power plant will be constructed to replace expensive thermal generation and provide reliable access to electricity in eastern Cameroon, including 2,400 newly connected households. Mekin: Located in the hometown of Cameroon President Paul Biya in the southern part of Cameroon, the hydropower project consists of a 12MW hydropower station, 40 miles of transmission cables. Total electricity generation capacity in Cameroon is now only 1.021 MW, 77 percent of which comes from hydropower, and the rest from relatively expensive and polluting thermal generation. Cameroon can generate up to 6.000MW of reliable all-season hydropower on the Sanaga River in the Medium term. Demand is double this figure, and the country is developing energy-thirsty projects to meet its development goals. As President Paul Biya said in the village of Nyabizan while laying the foundation stone of the Memve’ele dam on June 15, “Without energy there can be no real development. There can be no industry. Our agricultural and mineral raw materials cannot be processed. In short there can be no modern economy.” Three to five years from now Cameroon may finally be in business if these electricity projects are completed as planned.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Welcome 2012 !!!

Happy New Year from fonka's perspective.

2011 was a busy year for us all as we braved the storm and various challenges, individual and collective to wade through a year marked by the Arab Spring, and an increasingly fragile financial Europe.
As Cameroonians, the Presidential Election was the high-point of the just ended year, its result an evident outcome for keen observers, in an election that sprang little or no surprises.

It is almost easy to predict another deafening political silence in 2012, until legislative elections come around. A silence that almost ridicules the Cameroonian opposition, as it seems to emerge each time only a few days to voting day, in a last-stitch effort to rescue a few insignificant votes. I perceive this approach more as an attempt to stay afloat rather than one to gain meaningful political credibility and eventually a victory in elections. This also eases the job of any existing election-rigging mechanism, which can point the accusing finger at a timid opposition.

The National Assembly in 2012 will still be 75% controlled by the ruling party, and the powerless and disorganized opposition will still watch on as Mr. Biya’s team carry on with their snail-paced policies, be it in the political or economic domains.
The December 9 cabinet was given 45 days to deliver. What? One is tempted to question, as Yaounde residents continue to need basic utilities like water at the start of the ‘Major Accomplishments’ mandate.
It will be interesting for the Philemon Yang government to lay down its short term, goals or what it actually intends to achieve in the 45-day period, so that Cameroonians at large can assess their performance level at the end of February.
Despite the best efforts of government to create 25 thousand public service jobs, and the political promises to make Cameroon a vast construction site in the days ahead, the future still looks bleak for the thousands of unemployed Cameroonians, who have either not received the proper training to benefit from the Construction of a Deep Seaport in Kribi for example, or may simply not get a fair chance at applying for these jobs.

Unless Cameroon’s value system is deeply changed, and real action is taken against all forms of social injustice and inequalities, then the wish of the President to get all Cameroonians working together as a people to become an emerging economy…someday, will remain wishful thinking.

In actual fact not much is expected to change in the daily lives of Cameroonians this year. Instead times will get tougher. If the rumour of the CFA Franc being devalued becomes fact, if fuel prices go up, as is the case in Nigeria, Senegal and elsewhere, then 2012 will definitely be a more painful year.
This could be further compounded with announced sanctions on Syrian fuel, and the prospect of placing an embargo on the oil of the ‘rogue’ Iranian state, then fuel prices could further spiral in the course of the year.

Qualified young Cameroonians, who have studied abroad, are still frustrated by the impossibility of setting up a business in their own country, unless they are ‘well connected’. These are some of the people who could make life better for many in 2012 by creating jobs and generating wealth, but they too are still shut out, despite government talk about improving the business climate.

2012 can nonetheless be a Happy Year remember, the state is not the biggest employer, and all emerging economies are driven by middle-class businesses. This means, you must not be recruited by the state, and indeed you stand a bigger chance of getting rich by starting an innovative business that works. Get the best training you can, because despite the global job crisis, many fields are still in high demand.