Handicrafts and Appropriate Technology

Cameroon Blog

Development of the Oku Sub-Division

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Aaron kaah Yancho

A Lobbying and advocacy organization for the development of the Oku sub division in the North West Region has been formed and named the Oku Opinion leaders Association

The association which has as tasked to support Government action in the general interest of the Oku people world wide void of partisan lines, ensure the security and safety of government structures and officials sent to Oku and to forge meaningful alliances for the socio economic development of Oku sub division was created last Feb 24th 2012 at Elak Oku with Mr. Kenkoh Emmanuel as pioneer coordinator.

Before the formation of this association, the development of Oku Sub division had been thwarted by political wrangling and power tussle by its top elite and politicians for many years. The subtext for this was unmistakable- the poor execution of public contracts in the area, juvenile delinquency, food insecurity and backbiting and rumor mongering. In this meeting that congregated both the SDF and CDPM top militants and elderly intellectuals, some controversial political figures and petition writers, the brain child of the lobby and advocacy group Kenkoh Emmanuel a teacher by training called on the participants to bury their personal differences and to work for the peace and development of the Oku Sub division. Mr. Kenkoh said a fog of guilt and hostility weighed over Oku because of ill faith, bad blood and selfishness. According to Emmanuel this led to a long standing bad socio political history which seemed to have worked extremely very hard to kill the prosperity and unity of the Sub division.

Reflecting on the words of Kenkoh Emmanuel and the way forward for Oku, the participants and politicians unanimously agreed that a lot of bitter experiences had taught Oku lessons which saw an out burst in petition writing and unpleasant social unrest. One by each the elite said it was a dream come true to seat as one man and to bury rancor and discord. To give themselves courage, the participants remembered in a minute of silence those who had jumped out of the world before them and in a fitting tribute to their commitment and a moving demonstration of love for Oku took a strong worded resolution to work only for the interest of Oku sub division. A five man committee was elected to nurse the association with Hon. Fai Mbuh Yang Daniel and SN Tamfu Wambeng as resource persons with the D.O for Oku, Mayor Ngum Jerome, and MP Kwei Andrew Mngo as advisers.

It is still very early to apprehend what challenges may rock the Oku Opinion Leaders Association but only fears for a financial vulnerability could bring the association to its knees. The first big responsibility of the pioneer team will be therefore to initiate dialogue between the various political divides in the Sub division so that development can bear.

Nonetheless the association according to skeptics has to be ambitious enough to know that the entire Oku sub division needs good road infrastructures, social amenities and to amend the tented image of the Sub division that has been presented to neighboring tribes and the world in caricature form.

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posted @ 1:51 PM, ,

Dolls of the World - Cameroon

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posted @ 11:17 PM, ,

Traditional Culture and Future Development

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posted @ 9:52 AM, ,

Institute for Alternative Methods at BUST

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Prof Dr Norbert Pintsch

The idea for the establishment of the IAM originated out of inquiries from students of local universities, who received information on various occasions at the CAT (NGO) about Appropriate Technology.

Objects mentioned in the literature can be seen at CAT and their working is explained.

Apart from NGOs, companies and private persons, there are CAT clubs in 7 Sub-Divisions and a Youngster-Club since 2009. Future students learn here in a playful manner among others handling devices, which are friendly to the nature.

The basic concept of IAM was initiated due the excellent relationship with BUST.

Of course one finds reference to Appropriate Technology in the brochures of universities, these are however understood as an extension of the regular study programs.

But Appropriate Technology is lot more !

It is a complete way of thinking and therefore to be placed equally along with disciplines like economy, trade, society and politics etc.

It is important here to differentiate between the rather holistic approach with elements from traditional culture, like visible in rural life, and the rather open resource depleting system, a it can be seen in urban and semi-urban regions and the closed independent system.

The holistic system is however not to be understood as an escape into the past, but on the contrary, it carries forward the futuristic approach by building upon the existing open system.

One can understand it well from the following example: the low-tech method of faeces-disposal on one side and the high tech recycling method as used in the europeon space lab.

Brainstorming about new concepts also finds its place at the IAM: The Organization of Climate Conserving Nations (OCCN) as an alternative to OPEC...

We can see, AT is more than only a technical aid.

Related: Women at Their Best

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posted @ 8:18 AM, ,

Welcome to Cameroon

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David Smith

After all," I said casually, "This is probably the last time I'll ever go to Cameroon."

This remark was met by surprise. Just short of my 35th birthday, it's maybe a bit premature to say never again to anything. But time is a finite cake that can only be cut so many ways. I thought I was being realistic in a world now crowded with unmissable destinations, once-in-a-lifetime adventures and 1,001 places to see before you die.

Cultural commentators have noted that unique experiences, not material possessions, are now the top currency. There's a premium on climbing that mountain, touching that shark or seeing that solar eclipse and then blogging about it, just to make sure all your friends, and the rest of the planet, know what an amazing time you're having. We are what we do, not what we own.

But Cameroon does not appear to figure highly on most bucket lists.

"What shall I do on a spare day in Yaounde?" I asked a local journalist. He looked at me blankly, then ventured: "Maybe go out to the forest."

There was no travel guide in the airport bookshop, only a chapter in Lonely Planet's Africa volume that noted the country's tourism suffers because of volatile neighbours. The Wikitravel website's guide to Cameroon has headings for See and Do, but both are blank.

It's also awkward and costly to get to. I flew to Nairobi first, then caught a connecting flight that was seemingly devoid of holidaymakers but did contain a Congolese sports team and dozens of Chinese men. The language barrier between them and the air stewards may be a regular occurrence in Africa these days.

"I don't trust the Chinese," said my taxi driver, winding past open-air bars where people drank, danced and sat on plastic chairs watching football on TVs below dangling lightbulbs. "They don't pass on any knowledge to the Cameroons. They bring their own people. They are here for the minerals, then they will be gone. Our government should remember its children."

We passed a new Chinese addition to the landscape of Yaounde, a music and sports facility that resembles a steel armadillo, or a spaceship.

It's an incongruous touch of the Frank Gehrys in a landscape that otherwise consists of blocky concrete, rusty corrugated roofs and a small park where parents show their children fish in the river. Government ministries are giant Stalinist towers with a touch of central Birmingham.

Drive up into the surrounding hills, however, and it's a different story of lush vegetation and clean air. I glimpsed that archetypal image of African football that will be seen regularly around next month's World Cup: young men chasing a ball on a pitch of ochre-red dirt surrounded by verdant borders.

At a Benedictine monastery on Mont Febe I found a rocky precipice with sweeping views of the city. Nearby, there were people praying to a Madonna statue carved into a giant boulder, and a lone boy lobbing a ball at a basketball hoop. Colourful geckos darted along the ground, as they do all around the city.

I wandered unchallenged into the monastery's arts and crafts museum, a small but potent collection of masks, statues and ornaments. This is bold and brilliant ritual art, some of the faces containing teardrop eyes or giant mouths more alien than human. It could be the stuff of nightmares but feels vital and charged with imagination.

I shopped for some of it at the arts and crafts market, where hawkers lull their prey into their stalls then beg, flatter and all but rugby tackle them to stop them escaping. There must be seasoned travellers who are world champions at haggling and fending off harassment, but I'm not one of them.

Cameroon is this week celebrating its 50th anniversary of independence. Paul Biya, the president, has reigned for 28 of those.

He claims to be Monsieur Propre — Mr Clean — but it's known that corruption is rife. Last month, a journalist, Bibi Ngota, died in prison after apparently being denied medical treatment. Nothing, however, will get international attention like Cameroon's footballers, the Indomitable Lions, when they play in the World Cup.

This, after all, is not a place many people choose to come on honeymoon, or to retire to, or to die in. As I head for the airport, I'll wonder if I'm ever coming back. Making my first trip to Cuba, Iran or Nigeria feels more urgent. But saying never again feels a little too sad and mortal to bear.

David Smith is the Guardian's Africa correspondent

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posted @ 8:15 PM, ,

Calling Cameroon Writers, Bloggers and Intellectuals

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We need Cameroonian bloggers and or writers or foreigners living and working in Cameroon who have a flare for writing and want to share their Cameroon experiences. Those who are interested, please email here.

posted @ 11:03 AM, ,

Future of Africa

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BY STEFAN SIMANOWITZ

Africa is a sleeping giant that is about to be awoken” Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations told an audience in Yaounde, Cameroon, this week. Speaking at a conference on the future of Africa Mr Annan was among several prominent personages – including two Nobel Peace Prize winners, several heads of state and a couple of former French Prime Ministers - who had come together for to discuss the issues facing a continent which has traditionally been a source of bad rather than good news. As Asha-Rose Migiro, Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations put it: “Too often we learn about how Africans die but not how they live”.

Whilst the conference entitled “Africa, An Opportunity for the World" did not shy away from the challenges facing Africa, its primary focus was on how the continent can realise its enormous potential, both in terms of natural and human resources. With a population of over a billion, vast amounts of fertile land and abundant mineral deposits, the 54 nations that make up the continent should be an economic and political force on the global stage but instead Africa produces just 3 per cent of the world’s GDP and has little political influence. Rather than fuelling development, revenues from Africa’s resources have failed to significantly elevate the lives of an important proportion of her people and have too often been squandered. “As we celebrate our successes we must not forget the hundreds of millions of Africans who live in poverty and insecurity with inadequate access to clean water, food, and health services,” said Mr Annan.

Mohamed el-Baradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, highlighted the irony that so many African’s go without power despite the fact that the continent has huge reserves of oil and gas and as well as great potential for solar, geo-thermal and hydro-electric energy production. “It is little wonder that some still call it the Dark Continent,” he said. The former Nobel Peace Prize winner was nevertheless optimistic that Africa can become a major political and economic player on the world stage and “a model of the type of world we’d like to leave for our children and grandchildren.” To achieve this he emphasised the need for Africa to take responsibility to resolve its problems.

“The number one priority is good governance,” el-Baradei said raising a theme that was echoed throughout the three day conference. “We can no longer turn a blind eye to corruption, nepotism and unconstitutional changes in governments,” Asha-Rose Migiro said to an audience which included several heads of state including conference host, Cameroonian President, Paul Biya who has been in power since 1982. Mr. Biya recently altered his country’s constitution to allow him to stand for a third term in office.

With Britain this week announcing its support for the expansion of the United Nations Security Council to include “African representation”, the discussion of Africa’s voice on the world stage was very timely. Mohamed el-Baradei was joined by Jean Ping President of the Commission of the African Union in calling for the need for Africa to have two permanent seats on the Security Council and even former French Prime Minister Alain Juppé agreed. “Africa must have its rightful place in the UN Security Council” said Juppe before adding mischievously: “But you say two countries. Which two countries?”

The conference also explored the emerging role of other nations in Africa, particularly China whose business interests in the continent at times collide with those of European countries. China now relies on Africa for over a third of its oil and has greatly expanded its activity across the continent. There are now more than 1000 Chinese companies operating in Africa and there is hardly a country on the continent that does not have a sizeable Chinese presence. China not only helps to provide infrastructural support but has also written off billions of dollars of African debt, provided soft loans and sold large numbers of arms. Alain Juppé raised some eyebrows when he said he welcomed Chinese, Indian and Brazilian companies in Africa. “You may find that surprising coming from a Frenchman, but I believe that new forms of cooperation will be a win-win situation for Africa and all her trading partners.”

There is nevertheless some resentment directed towards the Chinese in Africa stemming from their failure to adequately use the local workforce and for breaches of environmental, health and safety standards. Jean Ping went so far as to say that the European Union remains Africa’s “preferred trading partner” and challenged the role China plays in Africa. “How can a country that does not respect human rights try and impose human rights standards on African countries?” he asked. If Professor Shao-Lei Feng, a specialist in international relations from Shanghai was perturbed by Mr Ping’s outburst, he did not show it. “Debates and disagreements between different player are inevitable,” he told me diplomatically. “We need to increase mutual understanding between Africa and China and as well as between China and other nations.”

Another key issue discussed in conference was that of peace and security. Although the conference noted that levels of violence across Africa have dropped by nearly 60 per cent in the past two decades, violence still disrupts the lives of millions of Africans. Violence results in instability not just in those countries where fighting occurs but spills into neighbouring nations whose fragile social structures are disrupted by resultant migration. “There can be no development in Africa without security and there can be no security in Africa without development,” said Kofi Annan.

Michael Chertoff, former head of Homeland Security under the George Bush administration, referred to the increasing danger of Islamic extremism in Africa. “Terrorists live in the seams between countries,” he said explaining why the unguarded frontiers of the Sahel are attractive to terrorists. The arrest last month of 24 alleged members of an al Qaeda cell in Morocco and the unearthing this week of a plot this to attack the World Cup in South Africa shows the potential reach of Islamic terrorism in Africa. But it is in the the Sahel region of Africa, where terrorism is of the greatest concern.

Despite the many challenges facing Africa the mood of the conference was foward-looking and cautiously optimistic. Timed to coincide with the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Cameroon’s independence, certain amout of retrospection was however inevitable. On the final day, Mohamed el Baradei sounded a serious note: “Africa has been liberated as states...But many Africans have not been liberated as a people.”

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posted @ 3:09 PM, ,

Cameroon Traditonal Stolls

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posted @ 9:55 AM, ,

Cameroon - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts

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Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "Cameroon - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts" report to their offering.

Cameroons economic growth has lagged behind other countries in the region which is mirrored by the development of its telecommunications sector. It is one of only a few countries in Africa left with only two competing mobile networks, MTN and Orange. The re-entry into the mobile market by fixed-line incumbent Camtel as the third player has been delayed by controversy regarding its licence.

The result is a mobile market penetration rate that is below the African average and also below that of other countries with similar GDP per capita levels. Third generation (3G) mobile service have still not been introduced apart from Camtels EV-DO fixed-wireless service. Fixed-line penetration is extremely low, and the privatisation of Camtels fixed-line business has failed several times.

Mirroring a trend throughout developing markets, the average revenue per user (ARPU) in Cameroons mobile sector has fallen continuously as lower income groups gain access to services. The operators are trying to generate new revenue streams from the virtually untapped Internet and broadband market by introducing mobile data and WiMAX wireless broadband services. Camtel has been allowed to monopolise access to the SAT-3/WASC international fibre optic submarine cable, which has led to extremely high prices and a grey market of unlicensed satellite gateway operators offering Internet access and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services. A major expansion program for international fibre connections and a national fibre backbone network is underway with funding from the Word Bank and China.

Under a more liberal regulatory regime, Cameroons telecommunications market could catch up very quickly with its peers in the region. The industry regulator has indicated it plans to complete the privatisation of Camtel and increase competition by licensing more operators.
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posted @ 10:07 AM, ,


Calling Cameroon

We need Cameroonian bloggers and or writers or foreigners living and working in Cameroon who have a flare for writing and want to share their Cameroon experiences. Those who are interested, please email here.


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