Mayors Sort Best Local Economic Development Strategies

Mayors and Council staff drawn from councils across Çameroon, have taken part in a training centered on Local Economic Development in Cameroon, in collaboration with the Comon wealth local government forum ( CLGF).

The idea is for these Mayors to produce a program on local economic development that can be applicable in their various councils. According to the Vice President of UCCC, United Councils and Cities of Cameroon, Mayor Dighambong Anthony Mvo, each council should be able to set up a local industry that generates revenue in their respective municipality.

"As part of proposals, we think it is important to be able to check and see what we call comparative advantage of each council. That is, knowing what you're able to produce, suggesting that each council area can be able to have an industry, a small local industry that can create revenue, create employment, depending on the specificity, what you can be able to generate or have".

"The United Councils and Cities of Cameroon came out with monographic profiles of each council; where we were able to study or take note of the potentials of each council so that even if partners coming in, we should be able to know what exactly are the potentials of each council, that can be archived and be able to sell. Someone cannot be coming to develop you and doesn't know your potentials or what you can offer". Mayor Dighambong Anthony, Mayor of Wum and Vice President of UCCC.

Other participants felt positive about the workshop, that even though they have been doing something for their councils and despite some constraints they might be facing, it is important to improve on what has already been done in terms of local economic development.

Mayor Ngong Innocent from Belo Council, functions within a difficult context, where the armed conflict has been on for over 5 years. He told Civiclens that rural exodus has been maximum, preventing strides of local economic development to gain grounds. Yet he talks about efforts of the council and that the workshop on local economic development will only greese their efforts at Belo Council.

"The goal of the meeting is to improve on local economic development at the grassroot; where we can create employment opportunities for youths, women and different class of persons. It is advised that councils should be able to come up with projects that can empower the community economically and of course create jobs that will limit exodus to towns and to other council areas".

"We have had an overview on how to create such industries that will help boost the economy of the council area and we are looking at the creation of social amenities specifically for the youths that can keep them in the villages and avoid them going to other areas for the search of job opportunities". Mayor Ngong Innocent, Belo Subdivision, Northwest region.

Dr Mukwele Nguba Isaac, Mayor from the Kumba III subdivisional council, says the ongoing crisis in that part of Cameroon has shattered some of the plans of the council, yet they are not giving up.

"The crisis has actually imparit our expectations as far as youths are concerned, especially on what or how to empower them. That not withstanding since we came into office, we struggled to do holiday jobs for the youth, organized some sporting activities but because of the financial constraints caused by the crisis, we have not been able to follow up with all our plans for youths".

"Now that we are here to learn how we can ameliorate the situation, come up with strategies for local economic development, this seminar serves as an eye opener, so that we can better our situation; intergrate the youths, create jobs for them and also improve on living conditions in Communities "

The Mayor from Kumba III says local economic development will involve displaced persons who have moved from other areas and settled in Kumba, because his municipality is a green area and a host community for others.

The training was not just for brainstorming but also a forum for networking, for learning and a forum to link up with the Commonwealth local government forum which is based in Accra.

There were participants from the head office in Accra present at the training, Joyce Ekufu.

"The West Africa regime is collaborating with UCCC to organize this training on local economic development, because Local economic development is one of the thematic areas that CLGF is focused on, in helping to promote councils in their various municipalities, since 2011".

"The councils are the masters or the managers of issues at the local level and we are talking about local economic development, so they have to create the environment for the local economy to boom. If they are able to help in creating a conducive environment, then little businesses, micro medium enterprises, and small enterprises will be able to operate".

According to Joyce Ekufu from Ghana, Regional program officer for the Commonwealth Local Government Forum, West Africa, thinks that if these councils can't create an enabling environment for the youths and women who are into small businesses then there is need fighting for that to happen, by working together with people at the grassroot through these councils to improve on their economic situation.

While strategizing, potential partners have been earmaked; Feicom, the government; through MINEPAT, some NGOs, some local and international partners, not leaving out Common Wealth Local government forum who is also a partner.

Djenabou Mafing Marie, Mayor of Madingring Council, North Region

Betoden RAISA, from Yaoundé II Council

These Mayors going through series of trainings, are expected to come up with a proposal for the State, so that a national policy on local economic development can be established; where all councils can have it budgeted in their different budget lines, to implement the local economic development commonly called LED in Cameroon.

By Ndefru Melanie in Yaoundé

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