AS Ambazonia’s War of Independence Bleeds Economy, Deepens Public Debt, Claims Soldiers, Cameroon Army General Seeks Community Cooperation
The ongoing armed conflict that has stretched for close to five years in the former UN Trust Territory of British Southern Cameroons appears to be fast weighing down on an overstretched Cameroon military. Following a recent plea to the population of Bamenda by the Commander of the Cameroon armed forces there, saying he was losing so many soldiers daily is an indication that the pro-independence fighters are gaining strength by the day.
“We cannot continue to lose our soldiers every day because you people do not want to cooperate with us. The activities of these guys are a threat to all of us, including you. All we need from you is your cooperation,” General Valère Nka told the people.
This open plea is in contradiction to a statement made by the Minister of Territorial Administration, Paul Atanga Nji recently on the state broadcaster, CRTV that President Paul Biya had won the genocidal war. Although pro-independence fighters have equally lost men to the war, pundits say the number of body bags being brought back from the battlefield by the Cameroon Military is telling of a heavy blow from untrained boys recruited through volunteerism.
Southern Cameroons pro-independence fighters appear to be reducing in numbers but growing in strength lately. They seem to be acquiring new techniques, more sophisticated weaponry, and developing an artisanal arms industry capable of fueling the conflict for a long time. At least 14 soldiers reportedly lost their lives in IED attacks within days in Alou in Lebialem, Kumbo in Bui, and Ikiliwindi in Meme.
Worldwide protests by Southern Cameroonians abroad continue to gather steam (C) DW
The level of indebtedness of the Yaounde regime, recently revealed by the African Development Bank stands above CFA F 10.000 billion. This speaks of a country on the verge of collapse.
In its 2021 outlook on African economies, the African Development Bank (AfDB) estimates that “Cameroon’s level of public debt is worrying”. The Bank explains that the country's debt dropped significantly in 2006 when it benefited from the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. But, barely a year later, that debt resumed an uptrend curve.
“The stock of public debt rose from 12% of GDP in 2007 to 45.8% of GDP (about two-thirds external and one-third domestic) by September 2020,” it writes. This means that within 13 years, Cameroon’s public debt rose four-fold. Based on that fact, the AfDB estimates that Cameroon has the characteristics of a country at high risk of debt distress,” the AfDB noted.
As such, the AfDB believes, the country’s development efforts could be jeopardized because a significant portion of its revenue is being used to repay creditors like it was the case before the HIPC initiative. Incidentally, the 2021 Finance Law had already revealed that as in 2018, the volume of debt service (both domestic and foreign) had started rising while public investments dropped. For instance, according to budget documents, Cameroon's debt service increased from XAF 727.5 billion in 2017 to XAF 1,027 billion in 2018 while public investment fell from XAF1,586.9 billion, to 1,291.5 billion over the same period.