It aims to foster public-private cooperative investments in cocoa and agriculture, improve the genetic quality and productivity of the cocoa varieties, expand farmer education and training schemes, and improve the agriculture input supply chain serving the famers.
The announcement comes just after Kraft confirmed that it is expanding its sustainable cocoa initiative into the Dominican Republic, following the success of the programme in Ghana.
Nigeria and Cameroon have drawn a draft agreement that seeks to protect human rights of their nationals and promote the exploitation of hydrocarbons along their border.
Nigirian President Goodluck Jonathan agreed at a recent Abuja meeting with Cameroonian Deputy Prime Minister Alhaji Amadou Ali that protection of human rights must be paramount.
“We (Nigeria) would set up a committee to consider the draft agreement,” Jonathan was quoted as having said.
Amadou Ali who represented Cameroon President Paul Biya at the meeting assured Jonathan that once the panel finished its work the document will be signed by both leaders.
The agreement was reached at the 23rd Session of the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission (CNMC).
CNMC is made up of officials from Cameroon led by Amadou Ali and those from Nigeria led by Prince Bola Ajibola.
Nigeria and Cameroon also agreed to jointly address security problems facing both countries.
The draft agreement on security will also integrate neighbouring countries such as Niger, Chad and Togo in Nigeria’s war on terror and cross-border crimes.The CNMC, which was established in November, 2002, oversaw the demilitarisation of militarised zones during the two countries’ battle for the control of the oil-rich Bakassi Peninsula, as well as the reactivation of the Lake Chad Basin Commission. The commission is now set to tackle economic plans and protect human rights for both Nigerians and Cameroonians.
Since December 2002, the commission, with the support of several donors including the European Union and the African Development Bank, has reached agreements on various development programmes along the border.
The United Nations-backed commission set up to help Cameroon and Nigeriaresolve their border dispute has called for swift agreement to resolve the remaining border areas that have not yet been fully demarcated.At a two-day meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, that wrapped up yesterday, the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission instructed its sub-commission on demarcation to find “effective and practical solutions? on the remaining 350-kilometre land border areas that include the skipped areas, areas of disagreement and inaccessible areas,” according to a press release issued by the commission.
The Mixed Commission – which contains representatives of Cameroon and Nigeria, as well as the UN – was established by the world body at the request of the African neighbours to help implement a 2002 International Court of Justice (ICJ) decision on the delineation of the border. It has already reached agreement on more than 1,600 kilometres of the border.
In a communiqué issued at the end of this meeting, Cameroon and Nigeria reiterated their commitment to complete the demarcation by the end of next year.
The commission, chaired by Said Djinnit, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for West Africa, also noted the progress made by the two nations regarding the confidence-building initiatives for the populations affected by the demarcation.
The next session of the commission will be held in Yaoundé, Cameroon, on 8-9 December.
Traditional ways of approaching issues of development give preference to questions that seek to establish differences between developed and developing countries on specific issues. Put differently, we are used to defining and deriving policy from the experiences of states that distinguish themselves from rank-and-file statehood in the world system. For instance, it is customary to compare the U.S. and Africa’s GDP and derive inferences for African reforms more or less suggested by the path the U.S. took.
To some extent, this ‘prescriptive’ approach is reasonable because it allows developing countries to learn from developed countries without having to reinvent the wheel of development. Nevertheless, knowledge and intervention derived from ‘prescriptive’ comparative studies that solely focus on differences between developed and developing countries often fail to produce expected outcomes because they pay little or no attention to the learning processes of developing countries. Thus, while the emphasis on ‘difference’ is suited for prescriptive policies, it remains ill-fitted for ‘comparative understanding’ of important politico-economic problems in the world.
In contrast to GDP and other differential markers used to measure the evolution of societies and politico-economic institutions in the world system, similarity-based comparison yields high pedagogical value for both developed and developing countries. Public procurement is one of the many areas of study amendable to such a similarity-based comparison.With procurement studies, one could appreciate similarity and adopt a comprehensive –and, might I suggest, more humble? — approach to development models for developing countries. More often than not, mistakes made by government officials and parastatal procuring entities point to the same challenges that developed and developing states face. Two procurement stories involving the U.S. government at home and abroad illustrate this point.
In a televised interview recorded in Sept. 2010, Ashton Carter, the U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition,Technology and Logistics, announced that the defense budget won’t go up or down but should stay within the limits of “the resources that the country and the taxpayer can afford.” He also predicted that the new post-9/11 era is going to be ‘good for industry and government.’
However, a report on the administration of provisions to troops in Afghanistan by the Inspector General of the United States Department of Defense released on March 2, 2011 shows that what is ‘good for government and for industry’ might exceed what the U.S taxpayer can afford. The report shows that the Defense Logistic Agency failed to provide ‘sufficient oversight of contract, cost, and performance.’ That is, the vendor for food products for Afghanistan was overpaid for work that remains incomplete.
What is interesting in this story is the ways in which the initial contract with the food vendor for Afghanistan was changed through a simple verbal order, which, as the Inspector General found, violated the provisions of the Federal Acquisition Regulation and Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement. The report clearly states that the verbal change of the contracting order by U.S. officials led to overpayment of the food supplier in Afghanistan. Because the modification of the initial contract through a verbal agreement between U.S. contracting officers and the Afghanistan food supplier was not definitized, transportation costs were exaggerated and the contractor was overpaid. Hence the verdict of insufficient oversight of cost.
Unfortunately, delays and overpayment related to cost assessment are not limited to U.S. activities abroad and in combat zones. Last year, the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) audited the Strategic Asset Management Pilot (SAM) project and found that the managers did not control cost. In the report, selected contractors unfamiliar with the VA’s needs poorly managed risk. Consequently, the SAM pilot project was delayed by more than 17 months potentially ‘doubling the original contract cost of $ 8 million.’
Delays, overspending and missed deadlines, poor cost and risk assessment in public contract renegotiation makes the U.S. procurement system less than perfect. In this sense, contract renegotiation mistakes made with the food vendor in Afghanistan and delays with the SAM project are similar to procurement challenges in Cameroon and Zimbabwe commented on last week.
Procurement challenges observed in Cameroon, Zimbabwe and the U.S. at the implementation and renegotiation phases highlight relative similarities between developing and developed countries in the management of public finances. Attention to government procurement makes the case for unbiased similarity-based case selection for ‘comparative understanding’ that could yield high pedagogical value because of the preeminent roles that decision making and forecasting play in defining outcomes. S.N. Nyeck.
Cameroonian parliament officials met at the beginning of last month to discuss better ways of managing public contracts. This important meeting was one of the many activities that commemorated the tenth anniversary of the creation of Agence de Régulation des Marchés Publics, the public contract regulatory board. However, according to this article published in the official newspaper, corruption, not the aging regulatory board, seems to have ownership and control over the procurement processes in Cameroon.
Most analysts agree that high corruption is correlated with delayed development and economic inequality within countries. In 2010 the World Bank reported that “quiet corruption,” involving small amount of money and influence, also had a destructive effect on African development. This finding corroboratedTransparency International/CRETES corruption survey conducted in 2007 which showed that respondents identified corruption in public contracts as the most widespread in Cameroon. A breakdown of corruption by industry type demonstrated that most bribes came from the construction and public works sectors (100%), health and social welfare sectors (50%), and they were all given to “facilitate administrative procedures” in Cameroon.
What is fascinating about this article is the paradoxical attitude of the international community and donors toward Cameroon. Instead of blame, the ‘formidable’ Cameroonian procurement system continues to receive praises from donors, the author writes.
If any, the praises of the ‘donors’ should be understood as devices that primarily seek to incentivize good governance and trade, not corruption. The WTO plurilateral agreement on government procurement (GPA) is the only legally binding agreement that promotes procurement reform and the fight against corruption. A country only needs to establish basic procurement transparency requirements domestically to become an observer to the GPA agreement. To date, however, no African country is party to the GPA agreement. Nevertheless, since 2001 Cameroon became and remains the first and lone African observer to the GPA agreement.
The ‘ambivalence’ of the international community toward Cameroon highlights strategic challenges that proponents of government procurement reform face in developing countries. That is, in attempting to promote a market-based approach to government contracting, international reform regimes are compelled to separate the essential from the nonessential. In the shadow of transparency where corruption already exists, where official signatures cannot be trusted, where the procuring administration cannot detect a priori falsified bidding documents, blame or praise alone is a limited solution. However, as the climate of government procurement continues to change toward reform, transparency and open competition worldwide, national systems that remain noncompetitive may continue to do so, but only at their political economic and institutional peril.
So far we know that corruption is rampant in the public sector in Cameroon. To fight corruption and get value for money spent, the government of Cameroon may benefit from research that determines which parts of its procurement architecture are more amendable to change in the short run and from adopting result-oriented policy models for long -term strategies. Additionally, a more proactive stand could take advantage of cutting-edge practices in technical reorganization of the public procurement chain, technological innovation in the public sector, and the participation of civil society in the negotiation process of public contracts. S.N. Nyeck
The development of Cameroon largely depends on the effectiveness and efficiency of its public procurement and contract award procedures. The system involves several actors in the public and private sectors, controlled by the Public Contracts Regulatory Board, ARMP under the supervision of the Presidency of the Republic and the Prime Minister’s Office. The gap between amounts disbursed for development and the actual implementation of projects is widening due to widespread corruption that costs FCFA billions each year to the state.
Such was the context of the round table conference that closed the week-long celebrations marking ARMP’s tenth anniversary last Friday, February 25 in Yaounde under the theme “Together, let us fight corruption in public contracts“. Presenting the reports of the three workshops that earlier held on the 22, 23 and 24 of February involving more than 472 participants drawn from all levels of the public procurement system and split in three groups, Ondoa Atanga Roger, Inspector General at ARMP, disclosed the results of a study carried out by ARMP in 2006 on the phenomenon of corruption in public contracts in Cameroon.
“The study carried out by ARMP in 2006 identified 166 cases of malpractices in public contracts; most of which originate from corruption,” said Ondoa Atanga Roger. The study, he further said, revealed all actors such as project owners, contracting authorities, members of public contract award commissions, specialised services of the Ministry of Finance, banks, ARMP services, independent observers, bidding companies and contractors, among others were involved in promoting corruption at the levels of preparation, award, implementation, monitoring and hand-over of public contracts.
During the award phase, for example, project owners disrespect the set deadlines for awarding contracts and proceed often to emergency procedures such as mutually-agreed contracts after colluding with bidders to over-bill. These same project owners sometimes refuse to sanction bidders with falsified documents or erroneous information often issued by so-called credible banks or social security institutions. Furthermore, contracting companies from the private sector stop at nothing to corrupt officials involved in the public contracts system and even controlling experts and independent observers who append their signatures signifying the hand-over of fictitious or poorly implemented projects. In spite of a formidable public procurement system praised by donors, the study noted the poor application of rules resulted from factors such as ignorance of rules governing public contracts, the complexity of procedures, the incompetence of actors, absence of standardisation of documents, influence peddling, generalised impunity or high tolerance for corruption and the timid application of sanctions.
The workshops, Ondoa Atanga Roger concluded, provided opportunities for actors to contribute in a participatory manner in the elaboration of NACC’s national strategy for the fight against corruption in public contracts focused on prevention, education, improvement of working conditions, incentives to actors and sanctions on recalcitrant actors. While clamouring for the protection of whistleblowers and a halt to impunity, among other solutions, the participants resolved to form a coalition to eradicate corruption in the public contracts system.
Public contracts in Cameroon’s National Assembly will henceforth be better awarded and their execution followed-up thanks to a three-day training staff in charge of the management of the public contracts received last February 8 to 10. Experts from the Public Contracts Regulatory Agency (ARMP) carried out the training on the theme, “National Procedures for the award and follow-up of public contracts.” The training was organized on the request of the Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Cavaye Yeguie Djibril. Read more …