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« glowing water lily | Main | Indigenization of the English Language in Kole Omotoso’s The Combat »

Friday, 12 November 2010

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kumbaboy

Aloys,

You make a good point but using highly charged language. Privatisation is better than government control under assumptions that the private sector has the necessary management expertise and that goverment also has the expertise to regulate the private sector. A case in point is Great Britain where government successfully privatised major state industries in telecom, transportation and utilities in the last 20 years. These companies have gone on to pay zillions to Whitehall from profits and create dependable jobs to many.

In Cameroon, where regulatory institutions are weak, one must be careful not to empower tribesmen and women without any sense of public morality. For example, biases in employment are very conspicous in Cameroon's corporate landscape, usually favoring people from the native region of corporate leadership.

SONARA for example in Limbe uses French as its working language and hiring practices there, even for low level laborers, favor natives of overall boss at the site - all brought in from Douala at the expense of local Bakweri. On the otherhand, there is no reason why CRTV has not spun an independent English language outfit - a francophone-oriented Biya Government is still scared of the power of the English Language!

In a nutshell, incompetence in Government and in the private sector in Cameroon ruins any privatisation endeavor. You need a change in generation and leadership at both state and private sectors.

limbekid

I agree with Kumbaboy: well intentioned article, but emotively charged.

The big question is, why do these institutions (IMF, World Bank...) have so much leverage over developing economies? We are paying for our own indiscipline. The article also contains inaccuracies: It is unfair to say water should be obtained free of charge. You are not paying for H2O, but for the technology bringing it from source to your home. Privatisation of the telecoms sector also sped up the development of the infrastructure (most Cameroonians became aquainted with the mobile phone before the fixed phone - an anomaly). The issue of Tole tea is rather perplexing as the "buyer" is still operating a successful tea estate elsewhere in Cameroon in the North West, so we should apportion blame elsewhere.

How does one dilute the monopoly? In the case of utilities the licence could be limited to production only, and the marketing left to numerous vendors who can exercise price competition for the benefit of the consumer. I think the biggest issue is not with the privatisation policy per se, but with the transparency of information during the privatisation process.

@ Kumbaboy, I don`t agree that CRTV should spin an independent Anglophone channel. The sector has been liberalised and it is for Anglophones to take up the challenge and liberate their creative energy by setting up their own networks. CRTV is an arm of government, and the latter will always have an influence over policy.

J. S. Dinga

It is very refreshing reading important views expressed in this forum by committed nationals. I feel privileged to share in the commerce of these fruitful minds.
Back to the topic that brought this about, let me first of all say that one must distinguish between the message (privatization) and the messenger(World Bank/IMF) before demonizing. Secondly, comparisons only help us when we honsestly compare the comparables.In this context we are comparing Cameroon's centralized administration as we know it and have known it over the years, with the recent attempt to give the private sector a say.
GIGA(Garbage in, garbage out) is a computer acronym we all come across some where along our effort to bridge the digital divide, describing what happens when we put in wrong information hoping to get out wonders. If the idea of privatizing is to make services better for the local population, one needs to know whether the private sector carries out hiring practices different from what obtains in the centralized government in place. Cameroonians need to look at themselves in the mirror and ask and answer the question: Are people in the triangle employed based on what they know or who they know? This would be one way to distinguish the private sector from the government but are the twosome distinguishable? If not why should anyone expect a different outcome from a system which changes only name but not substance? Did we not hear from the late first Cameroonian boss of SONARA that the Head of State gave him the mandate to employ competent hands and so if all the competent hands happened to be Bassa, he had not qualms hiring them? That is privatization in Cameroon for you.
I wish I could say the story is different for the water, electricity or other private ventures.
Also, we need to take a few steps back in time and ask ourselves quite honestly why privatization entered our vocabulary in the first place. How was centrally planned economic activity before it became necessary to look for new medicine? If we continue with the nebulous practices of incestuously staffing government services,drawing all cadres from our uncles and aunts and the extended family, even as qualified graduates roam our city streets, what can we expect? Private enterprises only make their mark because businesses are free to hire and fire based on well defined criteria that can be verified, not kept in some murky files or someone's unreachable mind! If similar businesses offering the same service to the people are allowed to compete in a healthy manner, the customer can pick and choose and so determine which service should survive and which should go out of business. Is that the case under our skies?
Where do the oversight entities come in, if ever? Can the courts, for example, hear a case of wrongful dismissal, discrimination in promotion, theft of company property, embezzlement etc? Does the non-conviction certificate make sense if convicts and ex-convicts are given free reign over the peoples' lives? The trial and conviction of Zaccheus Forjindam was supposed to make Cameroonians happy that corruption is being tackled, but are they? How many other Forjindams still call the shots in private enterprises?

I only list these few as ingredients that make privatization to work smoothly and credibly. Today, fifty years down the road, Cuba is belatedly coming to terms with the fact that it should ease up and allow some amount of private enterprise. The Cuban brothers, Fidel and Co. are still at the helm and so they know what they are talking about. The World Bank/IMF is not telling them so. Next door in the United States, President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party just came out of midterm elections, which an astute observer described as a baptism of fire. Why? The American electorate, anxious about the way the government was growing too big and intruding into private lives and undertakings (not so Ms Sarah Palin?)spoke bitterly - and President Obama has conceded that he would work with the new Congress to find a middle of the road solution. The engine of development in the US is the private sector where competition, innovation and rational use of talent takes enterprises to new heights, all overseen by appropriately created bodies like the FCC, FDA, Courts, etc.
Cameroon can do likewise and stop blaming the World Bank as if that organization alone runs the way we operate our lives at home.

Salaman

It could be argued that the problem with the US economy was not over-regulation, but under-regulation of the financial sector, which created bogus inflated profits by creating speculative financial instruments that were not backed by any meaningful economic activity. All the talk about "big government" has been artificially generated by propaganda entities developed by the same interests that crashed the economy in the first place. With these people, if you give them coffee they will brew coffee. If you give them tea, they will still brew coffee. That is how plastic the facts are to them. When Wall Street goes amok because of misguided under-regulation, it is always government that has stepped in to save the day, through spending on infrastructure. Please, swallow with dollops of salt, the notion that the private sector is sancrosanct. That is propaganda. There is no such thing as equal opportunity, free market and the like without a powerful government to balance the scales, because the rich, unfettered will control all the means, inputs and outputs, including the very bodies of the workers in order to maximize profits. Such an unfair state of affairs characterized by ineffective government and powerful corporations has resulted in a widening gap between the very rich and everybody else in the United States. Please, do not paint the US as some kind of bed of roses. Life is very hard there, because almost everyone is a wage slave to the financial sector.

While I decry the ethnocentrism that bedevils the so called Cameroonian privatization, I agree with the writer that we ought to start thinking strategically and innovatively, about the economy and societal organization and should not buy hook line and sinker the model being propagated by the Bretton Woods institutions. There has to be something better than their inhumane model.

Babis

This article would have been perfect if personal emotions were set aside by the author. All the ideas expressed are valid but the language used to bring them across to the targeted audience seems horrible.

Permetez-moi d’attirer votre attention sur le site web des étudiants et diplômés camerounais basé aux Pays-Bas. Vous y trouverez des opportunités de bourses d’études aux Pays-Bas.

En plus il y a des événements tels que salons de l’emploi, des conférences universitaires, les fêtes, shows, etc. sur le site.

L’adresse du site : www.csanetherlands.com

Upcoming Job Fairs in Germany :

•Bonding Braunschweig ;
•Bonding Aachen ;
•Bonding Hamburg ; and
•German Graduates Congress (Deutsche Absolventenkongress).

Take your chances ! Check out for more details and other events on : www.csanetherlands.com

The idea behind this informative and interactive website is to inform fellow cameroonians worldwide about opportunities they may make great use of. The more graduates and young professionals we have in decent jobs abroad, the more impact we can make on our people/communities/families, our country and Africa in general.

If you have ideas on how to ameliorate the website, please do not hesitate to contact the web editor: editor@csanetherlands.com

May the Almighty God bless, protect and guide us all.

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