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The negative consequence of socio-political crisis in the English speaking North West and South West Regions of Cameroon on the economy of the other parts of the country cannot be underestimated.

It has been three years and running and a socio-political crisis has moved from simple revendications moved to a ful-fledghed armed conflict in the English speaking Cameroon.  A smouldering frustration of marginalisation by the about 20 per cent of the population Anglophones of the two English speaking North West and South West Regions of Cameroon surfaced dramatically at the end of 2016 when a series of sectoral grievances morphed into political demands, leading to strikes and riots. Frantic effort by government to negotiate with Anglophone trade unions and make some concessions failed. The demands moved from a more automous Anglophone Region in the form of a federal state to outright secession and the call for and independent Anglophone state known as Ambazonia. To prove their determination some Anglophoe pressure groups have taken up arms against the government of Cameroon.

Besides arms they have also resorted to civil disorbedience. On one of the forms employed this far has been through “Lock Downs” or “Ghost Towns”. For over three years now the Anglphone separatists have declared an economis blackout on Mondays. On this day all economic activties are shut down and circulation prohibited. It has been respected by a vast majority of the population in spite of frantic efforts from the government to cark it. Some of these lockdons have run for up to three weeks.

Eventhough the original intention of this movement was to put pressure on the Cameroon government; it seems to have boomeranged as it is not only stiffling the economy of the Anglophone Regions, but also villages and towns located on the highway out of the Regions. The case of the Bamenda to Yaounde or Douala axis is very glaring. Economic operators on these stretches of road who depend on travellers going to Yaounde or to Douala completely ground businesses on Mondays, which are observed as Ghost Towns and worse during prolonged lockdowns.

To measure the gravity of Ghost Towns and lockdowns, this reporter travelled on a Monday to Yaounde. My first stop was in Makenene in the Mbam et Inoubou Division of the Centre Region. I met this hawker selling peeled Pineapple, Susan Fiegn. Carrying her seven months old baby, said told me she escaped from Belo in the North West Region in 2018 where the father of her daughter Naomi, was shot dead accused of belonging to the Separatists group fighting the State. “…I came here to live with my maternal uncle and got indulged in hawking for survival. Normally I make 3000 FCFA (5 US dollars) a day from hawking peeled pineapples and on “Ghost Mondays” I am unable to make up to 1500 FCFA (2 US dollars) and during “Lock Downs” in the North West the effect is heavy on us here in Makenene….”

For his part, James Nfonkain who does roadside babecue, laments, “Since the advent of the crisis in my Region, because I come from Kom of Boyo Division where it is hard hit, it has really affected my business seriously because most people who used to travel on this road have relocated away from the North West and are permanently in Yaounde or other towns and villages in Francophone Regions. So business cannot be at its best even on normal days of the week talk less during lock-downs. Those who manage to travel don’t have money to spend freely like before maybe because the economy of the North West has collapsed .I have been in this business for over 19 years and my family depends on it for livelihood. I think government should change the method of seeking a solution to the ongoing crisis….my supply chain of goats from the Region has been cut off because my suppliers in the villages have all escaped for their dear life…”

Nina, a girl of about 22 who manages a privately owned public toilet at Makenene, told this reporter that when more people travel and stop at Makenene, she gets more customers and on Mondays traffic is so low and she could stay the whole day without making FCFA 500 (One US dollar).

The fruit market at Tonga in Bangante and at Melong all in the French speaking West Region have also witnessed a drop in turn over.

The transport sector is highly hit as all vehicles plying the North West and South West are grounded on Ghost Towns days and during lockdowns. Taxi Drivers who survive from these parks are also hard hit given travelers would go to the park on these days. The tollgates collection is also affected given the reduced volume of traffic on these roads.

Cameroon economy hard-hit by anglophone crisis

According to the International Crisis Group Cameroon’s economy has a wealth of commodities such as oil, diamonds and gold and good agricultural conditions. Unfortunately, the economic outlook is far from rosy.

In reality businesses are shutting down and unemployment is shooting up in the country’s restive Anglophone Regions. Coffee and cocoa are key economic mainstays of these English-speaking Regions. Seventy-five percent of Cameroon’s arabica coffee comes from the Anglophone Northwest. The Cameroon Development Corporation (CDC) that operates largely in the South West Region is the country’s biggest employers after the state. Only seven of its 29 production sites are still fully operational.

The negative consequence of socio-political crisis in the English speaking North West and South West Regions of Cameroon on the economy of the other parts of the country cannot be underestimated.



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