Author Archives: Guest Author

THE WORLD AND ITS PEOPLE

The world and its people!

When I turn to my left or right

All I hear or see is chaos,

I turn on the radio or television stations

All I hear or see are famine, wars and rumours of wars.

 

The world and its people!

When I look at the world leaders

At loggerheads with each other,

I wonder if there will ever be peace and serenity in this world.

 

When I read some of the bills or the laws passed,

I ask myself, Is this what freedom is all about?

Did the creator make a mistake to give us the freewill to choose?

Oh, the world and it’s people!

 

I thought colonialism was over,

But that was a fatal mistake it was just rephrased and restructured.

Even after the so called independence

Nations are still suppressing other nations.

 

Rhetorical questions I keep asking myself,

Who made one human to think he is superior over the other?

Are we not all going to rot and return to dust someday?

How my heart bleeds

For this world and it’s people.

By

InsingWung

2015

Credit Cards – Cash is King in Africa

Credit CardsThis is a guest post written by Godlove Ba.

Contemporarily, the lack of access to credit is an indicator of poverty. Statistics show that, there is a near linear relationship between the GDP of a country and the number of credit cards in circulation. According to 2011 reports from Euromonitor International Marketing Data and Statistics, in 2009, the USA, Japan and China, were said to have an estimate of 632.46, 351.28 and 185.27 Million credit cards respectively in circulation. On the other hand, figures taken from the April 2015 edition of the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook (WEO) Database revealed that, these three countries also fall in the top 3 for the 2009 GDP ranking.

Credit card usage in Africa trails other continents significantly mostly because of the extreme rural nature of most areas in the continent. According to a study done by McKinsey, (February 2014) on “Sub-Saharan Africa: A major potential revenue opportunity for digital payments”, more than 90 percent of retail transactions in parts of Kenya remain cash based, and Gallup’s survey of 11 countries in sub-Saharan Africa found that more than 80 percent of adults there have made bill payments or remittances with cash. Given the lack of digital-payment penetration, consumers, banks, and governments in sub-Saharan Africa are still bearing the high cost of cash payments—costs associated with manual acceptance, record keeping, counting, storage, security, and transportation.

Many African countries in general do not have adequate technological resources that can enable them setup infrastructures such as swipe card systems. The absence of affordable nationwide internet network necessary to establish a credit card system also makes it difficult for credit card networks to be installed.

From a cultural perspective, this difficulty results from the reluctance of the African people to flip pages from their traditional rotary credit association, which is a financial system otherwise known as ‘njangi’ (a practice common in sub-Saharan Africa), to adopting the Western financial system called credit cards. The latter is profit oriented whereas the former is community welfare oriented.

Also, in contrast to Cameroon, other African countries show a more visible trend towards the use of credit cards. In February 2015, the Central Bank of Kenya’s website published the number of ATMs in use at 2643, which is also used as an economic indicator and the number of credit cards in circulation at 20047. Nigeria on the other hand which issued its first credit card in 2004, had 95,000 credit cards in circulation by the end of 2007 as estimated by Euromonitor International.

That notwithstanding, the apparent sluggishness of the pace at which credit cards are gaining grounds in many African countries could be justifiable since it took several decades for what was initially called charge cards, first introduced in the USA in the 1920s, to evolve into today’s credit cards. Cash is certainly still king in Africa.

How does it Work?

A Credit card is a rectangular sheet of plastic issued by lenders (banks in general) to qualified individuals so as to enable them carry out monetary transactions (such as purchase of goods and services) without using their own money. It’s make up consists of a Magnetic strip, a Signature strip and has a number embossed on it corresponding to the Card Number. They have a standard size of typically 85.60mm by 53.98mm. The two most prominent types of credit cards are MasterCards and VisaCards. All of the latter type card numbers start with 4 and consists of 16 digits (or 13 for old cards) whereas all of the former type card number start with numbers 51 through 55 and also consist of 16 digits.

The benefits of using a credit card are pretty obvious. It is highly convenient, serving as a mobile bank to which you can access while you are on the go. In fact, the world of credit cards introduces a cashless society.

The concept of credit cards involves borrowing money now and paying later without the provision of a collateral security. The amount of money lenders will be willing to make available to an individual or entity is based on the assessment of the financial position of that entity. In business, the term Solvency is used to describe the level of credit-worthiness of a potential card holder, with various levels being represented by a numerical figure called credit score. A credit score determines whether or not a credit card application can be approved. In order to come up with this score data such as employment type, employment history, minimum income (individual and/or household) is required.

Credit cards offer a lot of flexibility as purchases can be done in person, online and also over the phone. Its use may or may not be free. Some lenders charge an annual fee for using the card whereas others don’t. It is therefore very important to read the contract terms carefully before adhering to the card. Also beware of hidden fees which are not usually disclosed by the merchant.

Many credit cards will offer interest-rate-free credit during a period, known as the ‘Grace Period’, of typically 20 to 55 days depending on the type of credit card and the lending financial institution (bank). Should the card be paid off by the card holder within this period, no interest will be incurred (Zero interest).

Another important advantage of a credit card is, no collateral security is required but there is a limit however, to how much a cardholder can use on his or her credit card.

Credit cardholders also have many different services linked to the use of the card depending on the type of credit card. These include:

Balance Transfer It consist of transferring credit balance from one credit card to another (that is, paying off a credit card with another credit card) so as to take advantage of a lower interest rate on the card to which the balance is being transferred. Such transfers are usually subject to a transaction fees.

Cash Advance – It consists of transferring funds from a credit card to a bank account. Quite often, instead of using a credit card to withdraw money from an ATM (acronym for Automatic Teller Machine; a computerized telecommunication device that provides clients of a financial institution access to financial transactions in a public place) the card holder might decide to transfer the money into a bank account and then make a cash withdrawal from the account. Generally, for security reasons, some restrictions are placed on type of account into which funds can be transferred. In Canada for instance, some of the major issuers of credit cards, will only allow the primary (or secondary) card holders to transfer funds from their credit card into a checking account belonging to the primary card holder.

Rewards – Rewards are offered in the form of cash (cash back) or points which can be accumulated and later exchanged for cash (or specific goods and services). In the US some credit card holders can get as much as 400$ of cash back per year resulting from cash back cumulated from purchases made each month within that year.

Insurance – When travel tickets for example are bought with a credit card, it is possible for the cardholder to benefit from travel insurance if such an advantage comes with the card. Sometimes it might require subscription before it can apply. Generally, insurance coverage that comes with credit cards, are not easy to benefit from. Advertisement can sometimes make it sound highly attractive by offering up to a 1,000,000$ insurance coverage but the conditions to be fulfilled in order to take advantage of the service are not usually easily met. For instance the loss of an eye, either both upper limbs or lower limbs could be a few characteristics of the nature of an accident, a cardholder must be a victim of before he or she can be eligible for the claim

Hence, with GDP being considered as the broadest indicator of economic strength and growth, one can hope that the occurrence of an economic boom in Africa will incite people to make use of credit cards. In fact, the recent growth in bourses now shows Africa is at the verge of an economic boom, which should generally mean a promising future for the use of credit cards in the continent.

The `Frenchification` of Anglophone Courts in Cameroon

This is a guest post written by Amabo M.Law Court

The Republic of Cameroon is a multilingual country with two official languages (English and French). These official languages are the heritage of Franco-British rule in the country between the end of the First World War -which ended Germany`s presence in Cameroon and Independence.

However, there is an unequal distribution in the usage of English and French as official languages with a minority English speaking Population and majority French speaking Population. Hence, the policy of official language bilingualism, originally aimed at guaranteeing political integration and unity of Cameroon, now seems to constitute a source of conflict and political disintegration with conspicuous acts of marginalization of the minority by the majority population.

For decades since the independence of Cameroon, the Anglophones have constantly been in the battle of trying to negotiate their identity in the country. There has always been a call to denounce the Frenchification of Anglophone Cameroon and severe criticism of the Francophone-dominated states`s neo colonialism and repression coined the `Anglophone Problem`. The Anglophone Problem is actually not a forbidden ground when discussing Cameroonian politics. In fact, there are several expository write ups on the issue even by Francophone scholars like; `Tribalisme et Problème National en Afrique Noire` .Without exaggeration, the Anglophone marginalization problems is one of the most important problems in the country which the government has so far handled with somewhat irresponsibility. That notwithstanding, one should not overlook the fact that there are equally some Francophone intellectuals and activist who empathies with the Anglophones without necessarily approving the call for federalism.

Among several confrontations between the Francophone-dominated state and the Anglophones were major issues like, the demand for an autonomous General Certificate of Education (GCE) board-1990-1993 and the protest against the government´s announced privatization of the Cameroon Development Corporation (CDC)-1994, which were the remnants of the Anglophone Identify and Heritage. These were some of the occasions where the Anglophones out rightly demonstrated their solidarity to the course of fighting the Anglophone Battle. However, the victory obtained from these two battles where short-lived following a comeback by the government which took the Anglophones by surprise withdrawing their previously offered concessions. Recently, an event of this nature surfaced with an attempt to Frenchify Law courts in the North West Region- a major English speaking Region.

English language which is the modus operandi in the courts of the English speaking part of Cameroon has suffered major setbacks in North West courts over the past months. A decision by the President of the North West court of Appeal last February 2015, compelling lawyers to make their court submissions in the French language was seen by the Anglophone Lawyers as a complete violation of the Common Law system and procedure, practiced in this region. Apparently, this decision stemmed from the fact that, most of the Magistrates that were recently appointed to courts in the North West Region are Francophone who can hardly use English as a working language-an evidence of Frenchification of Anglophone Cameroon.

Instead of them trying to adapt to the Common Law system like their Anglophone colleagues appointed to courts in the French speaking part of Cameroon, who adapt to the Civil Procedure system; receive court submissions in French and render decisions in French, these Francophone Magistrates rather prefer to cause the Common Law system to ‘adapt to them’.

According to, Barrister Robert Nso Fon, the President of the North West Lawyers Association (NOWELA),“We are obliged to make our submissions in French, so why would they oblige us to make our submissions in French again in our own courts? It is clear that they simply want to completely eliminate the common law system in Cameroon. We the lawyers could understand and even speak the broken French, but what about our clients who understand no single word in French?.

Last year, there was a move by the government to post Notaries to the English speaking part of Cameroon, something which is contrary to the Common Law tradition wherein, every practicing lawyer automatically acts as a Notary Public. This faced fierce resistance from the Anglophone Lawyers.  This year there is the issue of the use of French in English courts.

In the past, it was very common to find discussions of Anglophone problems without constructive and practical recommendations on how these problems can be solved. Frustrated and disgruntled, the Anglophone lawyers (of the Common Law extraction) met in Bamenda on May 2015, to adopt resolutions to address the situation, amongst which is a resolution demanding the French dominant Biya regime to return Cameroon to Federalism. It is ambitiously reasoned out that, Federalism would go a long way to permit the peoples of the two cultures to develop themselves freely while adhering to the same constitution as a Nation. Considering that, these demands have been put forward by lawyers, it is envisaged that it will not be taken for granted.

It is the right of every group of people on planet earth to pursue their happiness and liberty with the use of all the resources at their disposal, without infringing on the rights and liberty of others. If Anglophones in Cameroon, after a `came we stay` marriage of perseverance for more than 50 years, do not see the long courting period productive, it is not over demanding of them to take an `ausfahrt` seeking alternative solutions. The Anglophone problem is definitely not just a problem to the Anglophones but to the Cameroonians because it handles issues like marginalization, exclusion and unfair distribution of wealth throughout the country. If the Anglophone problem can be discussed frankly in the spirit of patriotism without mischievous calculations resulting to seeing Federalism as a step towards secessionism, then that will definitely be a step in the right direction.

Notes: See May 9, 2015, Resolutions of Anglophone lawyers below.

PROPOSALS FOR A NEW DIRECTION IN THE JUSTICE SECTOR IN CAMEROON: 

  1. We demand an Independent Bar Association free of any Government Supervision and Control.
  2. We hereby propose a new direction for the future of the Justice Sector in Cameroon and recommend the creation of a national, Independent Law Reform/Review Commission comprising principally, Practicing Lawyers, Jurists and Judges.
  3. We therefore recommend that:
  4. The government should halt any project on the harmonization of laws until the national law commission is put into place and functional.
  5. All Judicial Processes and proceedings in the Common Law Jurisdictions should be conducted in the English language – in criminal matters; this should be from interrogations through investigations to hearing and Judgment.

iii.           The Two Divisions of Common Law and Civil Law be clearly defined and operated side by side in ENAM and the quota of intake in both divisions known in advance. Only common law trained Magistrates to be posted in the South West and North West Regions and Civil Law Trained Magistrates to the Civil Law Jurisdictions.

  1. That the Educational System in the South west and North West Regions should not be adulterated, English speaking citizens should have their studies in the English language from cradle to professional life. That all Public Examinations be organized in two Poles; English and French with none being translated from the other and the quota in both poles known in advance.
  2. We demand the establishment of TWO chambers of the Supreme Court of Cameroon that represent the Common Law and Civil Law System,with Judges appointed to the Chambers from Common Law and Civil Law backgrounds to address legal issues from both legal cultures respectively.  In this regard, we propose the appointment of Judges from the Private Bar into the Various Courts of Justice of the Common Law System.
  3. We recommend the amendment of law no. 90/059 of 19th December 1990 to organize practice at the bar and make provision for the creation of Law Schools.
  4. We propose the creation of a National Council of Legal Education to ensure the direction of legal education in the Common Law and Civil Law jurisdictions, develop curricula for academic and professional training of lawyers and to set up and supervise a system of continuing legal education for Lawyers, Prosecutors, Judges/Magistrates and other judicial actors.
  5. We also reiterate our previous resolution unanimously endorsed at the Cameroon Bar Association’s General Assembly in Buea on the 28th day of June 2014; that no Notaries be appointed in the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon.
  6. We have observed with utter dismay that there has been and continues to be a lack of protection with regard to the rights of the minority(Anglophone Cameroonians) as provided for in the constitution of this bi-jural, bilingual and bi-cultural nation. It is obvious that the rights of the Anglophones in Cameroon in the spheres of education, socio-cultural values,administrative set ups etc, are continuously and systematically being eroded with a view of imposing the socio-cultural and administrative views of the French and or Civil heritage of the majority Francophone Cameroon.
  7. We demand that the State should exercise its Constitutional duty to protect the Anglophone minority and by so doing, protect our history, heritage, education and cultural values. Consequently for the better protection of the minority Anglophone Cameroonians and the Common Law heritage, we strongly demand a Federation.
  8.   We hereby give Government a reasonable period from the date of deposit of these resolutions through the Bar Council to react positively to our demands, failing which this conference shall take the necessary disposition within the national legal frame work and if dissatisfied, seek further redress from international dispute resolution fora as shall be deemed appropriate.

DONE AT BAMENDA THIS NINTH DAY OF MAY 2015. 
SIGNED AND ENDORSED BY ALL PARTICIPANTS PRESENT AT THE CONFERENCE.