Thursday, February 19, 2009

CEMAC--Has Cameroon Failed to Lead the Central African region?

It's a bit of bitter pill to swallow from an academic, but I can see where the man is coming from. The man in question, Cameroonian-born Dr.Chris Fomunyoh, Senior Associate for Africa & Regional Director of NDI, a Washington-based non-profit organization, has, in an interview, castigated Cameroon for adopting what he considers a "lack of leadership in the sub-region", and cites it as being responsible for the poor economic and political transformation in the sub-region.

He believes that unlike Nigeria/South Africa/Kenya for ECOWAS/SADC/EAC respectively, Cameroon has failed to step up to the plate over CEMAC. In this regard, Cameroon’s failure to compete as a sub-regional leader explains why the region "is unable to experience the kind of economic and political transformation other parts of the continent have enjoyed."

Meanwhile, bishops in the CEMAC region have called for responsible resource extraction. AFP reports that:

The bishops from the Economic and Monetary Union of Central Africa (CEMAC) -- comprising Gabon, Congo, Cameroon, Chad, Central African Republic and Equatorial Guinea -- called for an anti-corruption mechanism to be developed and a change in behaviour when it came to exploiting and managing resources.

Prospecting and exploiting natural resources in these countries must ensure that "environmental and social norms are respected, so human rights and the well being of populations are respected," the bishops said.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

MERCOSUR--Chomsky Speaks about "Exciting" South American Integration

In this interview of Noam Chomsky on Foreign Policy in Focus, Chomsky explains why he is excited about Latin America and its attempts at regional integration. I have culled the relevant sections of the interview here. Enjoy!

South America

DOSSANI: Will the current crisis open up space for other countries to follow more meaningful development goals?

CHOMSKY: Well, it's been happening. One of the most exciting areas of the world is South America. For the last 10 years there have been quite interesting and significant moves towards independence, for the first time since the Spanish and Portuguese conquests. That includes steps towards unification, which is crucially important, and also beginning to address their huge internal problems. There's a new Bank of the South, based in Caracas, which hasn't really taken off yet, but it has prospects and is supported by other countries as well. MERCOSUR is a trading zone of the Southern cone. Just recently, six or eight months ago, a new integrated organization has developed, UNASUR, the Union of South American Republics, and it's already been effective. So effective that it's not reported in the United States, presumably because it's too dangerous.

So when the U.S. and the traditional ruling elites in Bolivia started moving towards a kind of secessionist movement to try to undermine the democratic revolution that's taken place there, and when it turned violent, as it did, there was a meeting of UNASUR last September in Santiago, where it issued a strong statement defending the elected president, Evo Morales, and condemning the violence and the efforts to undermine the democratic system. Morales responded thanking them for their support and also saying that this is the first time in 500 years that South America's beginning to take its fate into its own hands. That's significant; so significant that I don't even think it was reported here. Just how far these developments can go, both dealing with the internal problems and also the problems of unification and integration, we don't know, but the developments are taking place. There are also South-South relations developing, for example between Brazil and South Africa. This again breaks the imperial monopoly, the monopoly of U.S. and Western domination. China's a new element on the scene. Trade and investment are increasing, and this gives more options and possibilities to South America. The current financial crisis might offer opportunities for increasing this, but also it might go the other way. The financial crisis is of course harming — it must harm — the poor in the weaker countries and it may reduce their options. These are really matters which will depend on whether popular movements can take control of their own fate, to borrow Morales' phrase. If they can, yes there are opportunities.

Sameer Dossani, a Foreign Policy In Focus contributor, is the director of 50 Years is Enough and blogs at

Thursday, February 05, 2009

AFRICAN UNION--The Unbearable Lightness of Being...An African Union Citizen

I have spent the better part of the week working on a paper that has taken my time away from this blog. I re-post what I posted today on my ghana blog, as I believe it to be relevant...

It was too contrived to be a coincidence. After I posted an entry requesting why the issue of African Union had not been covered on CITI97.3FM (pls see above) on both Shamima Muslim and Citi Breakfast Show host Sammy Bartel's facebook wall, the following day on the show, I heard Victor Gbeho and Dr.Nii Alabi come on the show to discuss not just Ghanaian politics, but no less than implications of Al-Qaddafi as AU Chair.

There was--unlike former host Bernard Avle--no acknowledgment of my suggestion. I hardly expected it, but it would have been nice anyway!

Still, that was not going to dampen my interest and optimism. Upon learning that the AU is going to transform into an AU Authority, I sent some information round to Facebook friends, which elicited some responses. Curiously, out of the thirty people I sent the information to, only a handful replied. Below are some of the responses:

  • I honestly believe that once Africa stops looking 4 aid & begins to look and assist its own her in Africa we'll never be blessed. Its a Biblical principle that the founding fathers of the west knew and instilled into their children and children's children generations ago.

    Continental unity would transform us into thee Super Power.

  • It can only work if we make it work. We must instill that feeling of pride that the Americans have about being American about being an African in our offspring. Racism, tribalism and all those other evils are taught I'm yet to meet any1 born with any of those cancers in them. We have work to do, but if we are single minded in achieving this 'dream' the future is brighter that a thousand Suns beaming down on us.

  • Cool so i can proudly pay i live in the USA now.

  • This is what I myself wrote:

    it is ironic that in the centenary of the birth of Osagyefo Dr.Kwame Nkrumah, the dream towards continental govt could become a reality! Breaking news---al Qaddafi of LIbya just became CHAIR of the AU for one year. Certainly a BOON--if ever I saw one--to continental unity!!

    All that said, I would not for a second believe that those who failed to comment are any less patriotic than I am.

    We can draw any number of conclusions about the non-response, but what I can say is that there is a general lack of interest and apathy in the whole enterprise--which only compounds my unbearable lightness of being an AU citizen...

    But let's get positive for a second. Here's the plan for the African Union Authority:

  • AU Authority would be made operational by July 2009

  • it will have a vice-president and President

  • current commissioners of the AU would be transformed into secretaries

  • new secretaries would have portfolios structured along nine areas of shared competence. These include...

  • ...poverty-reduction; free movement of persons, goods and services; infrastructural development; climate change; epidemics and pandemics; international trade negotiations; peace and security matters; foreign affairs

  • Right across from where I work is Eastgate hotel; it has an EU; Ghanaian; Nigerian; Canadian flag. There is NO AU flag. It's a good job the AU is changing its flag. Maybe I can lobby for it to be hoisted?;-)Seriously, last time I looked, flags were a symbolic representation of a country's identity. There is no hotel here in Accra I have seen that has ever dared to hoisted an AU or even ECOWAS flag. In my view, it just reinforces the perception that Ghanaians don't care much for representing the AU to the world!

    To conclude, we do not live in a perfect world, so we are always going to get the likes of Al-Qaddafi. Whatever you might think about his human rights, he has made immense contributions--albeit not altruistically--to the cause of Pan-African integration.

    I believe it sincerely to be a blessing in disguise to have a putative erratic character like him at the helm of the AU in this year, and at this time when we are in the centenary of one of the most visionary Africans that ever lived--Dr.Kwame Nkrumah. A man who also happens to have proclaimed "Africa Must Unite! when he took Ghana, along with Nasser and a posse of visionary leaders instrumental in the establishment of the erstwhile Organisation of African Unity.

    Like Sunday World columnist-cum-blogger Kobby Graham wrote:

    Say what you will about the man but his visions of a single African military force, a single currency, and a single passport for Africans to move freely around the continent have an appealing whiff of Nkrumah about them that I cannot help but inhale.

    In my view, the nay-sayers of AU integration are missing the point! It is not about Al-Qaddafi--it's about fighting for AU integration now!