The economic impact of the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon: case study Buea municipality
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This chapter introduces a brief political and historical evolution of the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon and the statement of the problem relating to the study, the hypothesis, the significance of the study, the objectives set out, and the scope of the subject. Worthy of note is that this research would lay particular emphasis on the economic impact of the Anglophone crisis
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
The Anglophone crisis can be traced back to the era of colonialism. In 1884, Cameroon became the colony of Germany but as a result of the 1919 Versailles treaty after World War One, Cameroon was forfeited to Britain and France who then partitioned the territory into two parts; 4/5 to France and 1/5 to Britain. Thereafter, these territories were governed by Britain and France as separate territories until the advent of decolonization. In 1961, the British part of Cameroon (British southern and Northern Cameroons) was asked through an UN-sponsored referendum to gain independence either by joining the already independent Republic of Nigeria or the already independent French part of Cameroon (La République du Cameroun). British Northern Cameroon decided to join Nigeria while British Southern Cameroon decided to reunite with their brothers of the former German Kamerun in what subsequently became known as the Federal Republic of Cameroon (Le Vine, 1964; Ngoh, 1979). However, there was a significant difference in this reunification charade. Unlike the united identity that was once possessed by all during the German era, the division had harnessed stronger and more consolidated identities that had become dominant than the initial one.
The federal-state experienced constant friction between these new dominant identities as a result of their differences and interests. These clashes never resulted in any significant active conflict until October 2016. The heavy-handedness of the security forces in stifling peaceful protests organized by the Lawyers and Teachers Association of the Anglophone Community provoked civilians to retaliate resulting in considerable loss of life and property. This incident led to the implementation of certain measures to attract attention from both the Government and the Anglophone Community. First, the Anglophone community resolved to boycott all commercial and public activities as commercial, public, and financial centers were shut down. In retaliation, the government on the 17th January 2017 after the arrest of the protest leaders ordered for the shutdown of internet services in the regions and barricaded both internal and national borders linked to these regions which prohibited the transportation either by land or sea of people, goods and services to neighboring towns as well as neighboring countries. This led to the distortion of economic activities in these two regions, the economy of Buea municipality was also affected by this crisis
While the crisis is still ongoing, these three measures already indicate significant consequences for the economic development of Cameroon given that before this crisis Cameroon was already experiencing very slow economic growth at a rate of 0.2, from the index of 5.4 in 2015 to 5.6 in 2016, as indicated by the World Bank Index on Economic Growth.
Cultural diversity within states often serves both as a blessing and as a curse especially in African countries where intrastate conflicts are mostly derived from cultural diversity. While analyzing the relationship between intrastate conflicts and economic development in the case of Kenya, Ouchi (2000) examined that the relationship is cyclical. There is a need for peace and stability to attract investment and foster development. At the same time, underdevelopment can cause intrastate conflicts that end up claiming lives, displacing people, destroying infrastructure, and scaring away investors.
In essence, most often countries that have experienced intrastate conflict usually have difficulties in speeding up economic development thereafter as foreign direct investment in these countries is often low while pending war casualties and debts are often high causing a very slow rate of economic development at every turn.
Apart from the economic impact of the crisis in Anglophone regions, the conflict is also causing a major humanitarian crisis, with 530,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) and 35,000 refugees in Nigeria, mostly women and children (OCHA, 31 March 2019). Humanitarian assistance to IDPs is insufficient to meet needs, according to the UN(UN News, 24 January 2019). This is due to under-funding, difficult access, and security risks. Cameroon’s authorities initially obstructed international humanitarian assistance and opposed the presence of UN and humanitarian NGOs in affected areas. In July 2018, the government reacted to increased UN pressure for access to Anglophone regions by announcing its own Humanitarian Response Plan. Distribution of aid is all the more difficult because few IDPs are accommodated in dedicated sites. Some are hosted by families; others live in the forest where access is difficult (Le Monde, 25 January 2019). International aid is focused on Anglophone regions, where three-quarters of IDPs are living. Only a few of the 86,000 displaced in Francophone regions (Douala and the West) are receiving assistance, even from NGOs. The same is probably true for thousands of non-identified IDPs in Yaoundé.
Refugees began to pour into Nigeria at the end of 2017. They are mainly in the care of the UN High Commission for Refugees, the Nigerian government, local authorities, and local and international NGOs. But support is limited because Nigeria is itself dealing with the millions of people displaced by the country’s multiple security and humanitarian crises. Most of the refugees live with host families, but some camps have been established, including at Ogoja in Cross River State (6,000 refugees). Initially established close to the border with Cameroon in the states of Cross River, Benue, and Taraba, these sites were moved 50km away from the border in September 2018 to avoid incursions by Cameroon’s security forces tracking secessionists. Since then, there have been fewer incursions and also fewer trips back and forth by refugees between the camps in Nigeria and their villages in Cameroon.
The conflict has also had repercussions for the education system. Since 2017, the separatists have demanded the closure of schools and threatened or burned down establishments that have remained open. Consequently, pupil attendance has fallen drastically and many pupils have dropped out. The majority of children in the Anglophone regions have not been to school for two or three years; unwanted pregnancies are increasing among young women, and many families are pressuring their children into work. Even if the conflict were to end now, it would be difficult for these children to go back to school.
Continuing conflict risks causing an even more serious problem: a whole generation of children brought up to hate Cameroon, who could form the backbone of future armed groups. At some IDP reception sites, children are re-educated about the history of Ambazonia, the name given by the separatists to their self-proclaimed state. Among the refugees in Nigeria, there is strong support for the separatists and the armed militias. Their defiance of Cameroon’s government is such that they refuse gifts or visits from the authorities. They often teach their children the anthem and history of Ambazonia.
The conflict has had devastating effects on the economy of the Anglophone regions and the entire country. Major state-owned companies, such as the Cameroon Development Corporation (CDC) and Pamol, which employ tens of thousands of people in the Anglophone regions, are experiencing serious problems. There is no thorough assessment of the conflict’s economic impact, but in July 2018 the Cameroon Employers’ Association (GICAM) estimated the value of losses at FCFA 269 billion (€410 million). It also calculated that 6,434 jobs had been lost in the formal economy and a further 8,000 jobs were under threat.
1.2 Statement of the problem
The organization of a referendum in 1972 was considered as a French affair, this was in total violation of the federal constitution, and this and more has led to Anglophone agitation. Several attempts by Anglophone jurists to have judicial independence and ensure the respect of the 1996 constitution as amended in 2008 have failed. The 1996 constitution in its article 1(3) stipulates that The Official languages of the Republic of Cameroon shall be English and French, both languages having the same status. The State shall guarantee the promotion of bilingualism throughout the country. It shall endeavor to protect and promote national languages. There is a gross disrespect of the aforementioned article, this is because official documents are most often than not published in French and presidential speeches are always in French. The so-called bilingualism and multiculturalism commission does not have powers to sanction.
The current economic impact of the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon brings back painful memories to the people of Northwest and southwest of Cameroon. It was only in the early 1990s that an economic crisis swept the whole world, reversing years of economic and social development. While there are significant differences between the anglophone crisis and the 1990 economic crisis, in terms of causes, geographic spread, and chronology, both have had grave economic and social consequences. The lessons of the earlier crisis can and should serve as a framework for addressing the economic impact of the crisis in the Buea municipality. However, the problem identified in this research paper is the failure of the various stakeholders, institutions, and the government to combat the Anglophone crisis to reduce its negative impact on the Buea municipality
1.3 Research questions
Based on the problems identified above several critical questions can be posed:
- What are the causes of the Anglophone Crisis?
- What are the economic impacts of the Anglophone crisis in the Buea Municipality?
- What are the possible recommendations to be made to address the negative economic impact of the Anglophone Crisis?
1.4 Aims and objectives
The objective of this research shall be divided into two, Specific and general objectives. The general objective will be to examine the impact of the Anglophone crisis in the Buea municipality
The specific research questions that this work intends to clarify are shortlisted below
- To establish and identify the causes of the Anglophone crisis
- To explore the economic impact of the Anglophone crisis in Buea Municipality
- To propose solutions and recommendations to solve the Anglophone crisis
Ha1-The Anglophone crisis has a significant economic impact on the Buea municipality.
Ho1-The Anglophone crisis has no significant economic impact on the Buea municipality.