Cablegate: Bakassi Development Priorities: The Prime

DE RUEHYD #1047/01 2971552
P 231552Z OCT 08



E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) Summary: Cameroon has formed a committee to
coordinate future development projects for Bakassi, under the
auspices of the Prime Minister. The committee's initial
report, designed to provide a broad road map for
consideration by the government and donors, outlines priority
needs for Bakassi in the areas of transport and public works,
agriculture, communication, defense and security, energy and
water, education, fisheries and livestock, health and
recreation, tourism, forests and wildlife, social affairs and
women empowerment, and administration. The total short term
price tag is $239 million, with a total figure of about $487
million over an unspecified time period. Foreign Ministry
contacts downplayed the PM's report and it is not clear how
much weight the report will be given in government
decisionmaking and the November budget. At the least, it
provides useful information about current conditions in
Bakassi and about some of the government's thinking regarding
next steps. As we get greater clarity on the government's
needs, the USG should look for ways to support post-conflict
stabilization and development efforts in Bakassi. End

2. (U) Following the handover of Bakassi to Cameroon on
August 14, the Government of Cameroon (GRC) formed a
Committee for the Coordination and Monitoring of the
Implementation of Priority Projects to be realized in
Bakassi. Committee members visited the Peninsula, drew on
the findings of earlier workshops and consulted with local
authorities and experts. Working under the auspices of Prime
Minister Ephraim Inoni and headed by Special Advisor of the
Prime Minister Jacob Lekunze Ketuma, the Committee produced a
report in August entitled "The Priority Program for Planning
and Development of the Bakassi Area." The report argued for
119 billion FCFA (about $239 million at the current exchange
rate) in short-term projects and set a total budget for
development (including longer term priorities) at 243.4
billion FCFA (about $487 million).

3. (U) In the preface to the report, Prime Minister Inoni
notes that the document is not exhaustive but is meant to be
a road map and to "give an idea of the amount of work that
needs to be done in this area". He invites government,
national investors, and development partners to "have an
appropriation of this document," highlighting the "triggering
element" for the region's development as the tarring of the
Kumba-Ekondo-titi-Mendemba-Akwa road.

4. (U) In addition to the tarring of the road, the report
identifies five priorities:

-- the construction of classrooms, health centers, and sports
and leisure infrastructures

-- Radio and TV signal coverage

-- Provision of equipment for fishing, water and electricity

-- Urban development and the "development of a bank of
development projects"

-- Construction of public services and staff residences

5. (U) The report also enumerates six main constraints:

-- The availability of land

-- Geotechnical constraints (especially the quality of water
in the soil, most notably at Idabato and part of Kombo

-- The acute enclave nature of the area

-- The absence of access roads

-- The "hostile nature of the milieu"

Transport and Public Works

6. (U) The report notes that Bakassi is inaccessible by
land and is mainly open to maritime transport from Nigeria.
There are 5,700 fishing boats, about 50 "developed landing
points", and 175 km of bad earth roads. However, there is no
public transportation, no air transport or port
infrastructure, no road network, and difficult conditions for
transportation (poor carrying capacity of soil and the

YAOUNDE 00001047 002 OF 005

absence of building materials or potable water). The
population (which the GRC estimates at 75,000) is not
permanent and there are only two housing estates. In
addition to the Kumba-Akwa road, the report identifies the
medium term need for a number of secondary roads, the
construction of modern landing structures, and the
construction of a heliport, airstrip and hydro port. It sees
the long term need for a port.

Short Term Budget: $179 million


7. (U) Agriculture is predominantly subsistence, which
reportedly has not been doing well because of low education
levels, poor support services, lack of land titling,
isolation from markets and services, and the absence of
investment. There is some commercial agriculture (oil palm,
rubber, coconuts) carried out by CDC and some oil palm and
rubber production done by PAMOL. CDC is planning to double
its acreage while PAMOL is expanding its work force by 1,500
employees. There are also a number of small producers,
mostly in palm oil. Agricultural extension services in
Bakassi are limited. The report identifies the need to
construct divisional and sub-divisional agriculture and rural
development institutions and technical posts, to transfer
technical staff and create training centers, and to construct
small agricultural infrastructure (bridges, culverts etc.)

Short Term Budget: $3.5 million


8. (U) Bakassi has no Cameroonian media access and is only
covered by radio and television from Nigeria, Equatorial
Guinea, France (RFI) and Great Britain (BBC). The report
sees the short term need for construction of an antenna to
relay radio and TV signals at Ekondo-titi and Mundemba and to
encourage telephone operators to come to Bakassi. Over the
medium term, the report argues for construction of an FM
radio station to relay state-run CRTV signals and, over the
long term, other public and private media.

Short Term Budget: $1.4 million

Defense and Security

9. (U) Security for Bakassi is the responsibility of a
logistic battalion, a Central Operational Unit, Operational
Units in the North and South, Gendarmerie Brigades in all
Sub-Divisions and public security police stations at Akwa and
Ngosso. (Note: since the publication of this report, the
President has also assigned the Rapid Intervention Battalion,
BIR, to upgrade security in Bakassi. End note.) The report
identifies the need for construction of Gendarmerie and
police camps, stations, barracks and other facilities in
Akwa, Ngosso, Isangele, Bamusso and other sites. It argues
for the construction of a naval base and special unit at Akwa
and a military base at Idabato.

Short Term Budget: $7.7 million

Energy and Water

10. (U) Only six of 45 localities (towns, villages and
settlements) have an electricity network. Most electricity
on the Peninsula is by stand-alone generators or solar
platforms. The Divisional Headquarters, Mundemba, is the
only locality being supplied by Cameroon's main supplier of
electricity, AES-Sonel. There is no fueling station in
Bakassi; all petroleum products come from Nigeria. While
Bakassi is situated in a coastal sedimentary zone and
rainfall is abundant, water infrastructure is poor and water
sources are not generally of good quality (impacted by
salination or pollution from fishing and pit toilets). There
is a large need for maintenance and new investments in power
generation and distribution, as well as in water projects and
water management training.

Short Term Budget: $2.7 million


YAOUNDE 00001047 003 OF 005

11. (U) In areas completely or partially occupied by
Nigeria during the conflict (Sub-Divisons of Idabato, Kombo
Abedimo, and Isangele) there are a total of about 1,000
primary school pupils (in two out of three sub-divisions,
only one fourth of school age children is registered in the
first year of primary education). In the areas peripheral to
the conflict (Kombo Itindi and Bamusso), primary school
enrollment is higher (26% and 66% respectively). In other
sub-divisions, enrollment and infrastructure are even better.
The report seeks the construction, rehabilitation and
equipping of 597 classrooms and staff rooms. It envisions
construction of a teacher training college and 579 new
teachers. Over the medium and long term, there is a need for
over 2,000 additional classrooms and staff quarters. Bakassi
has one Government Technical College (at Akwa) and two
government high schools. Under the HIPC initiative, 17 new
classrooms are reportedly being built. The Prime Minister's
report sees the need to construct 12 classrooms, two more
secondary schools and another technical college, in the short
term, with a number of other facilities in the longer term.

Short Term Budget: $28.3 million

Fishery and Livestock

12. (U) This sector has been well studied and the region
has rich fishing resources. Constraints include: destruction
of habitat, including mangroves; destructive fishing methods;
the lack of data and surveillance; the underdevelopment of
landing, storage, road and marketing infrastructure; and the
absence of credit. The report laments the low involvement of
Cameroonians (versus Nigerians) in the sector. Priority
projects focus on creating five cooperatives, better training
and equipment for fishermen, constructing other
infrastructure (cold storage, dryers, electricity etc.), as
well as fish training centers and markets.

Short Term Budget: $2.8 million

Public Health and Recreation

13. (U) Bakassi's only sports and leisure structures are in
government high schools. The PM's report includes a plan for
mini-sports complexes and the creation of leisure sites.
Bakassi has eight health centers with one doctor. Health
challenges include widespread poverty, poor infrastructure,
and a widely dispersed population. The report's wish list
for the sector includes the construction and rehabilitation
of many health facilities, as well as vehicles, generators,
boats and staff housing. The long term goal is constructing
and equipping a Bakassi district hospital at Isangele.

Short Term Budget: $2.1 million

Tourism, Forests and Wildlife

14. (U) Bakassi has one national park (Korup) of 125,000
hectares, created in 1937, and two forest reserves, Rumpi and
Mokoko (45,843 and 9,065 hectares respectively). Korup has
benefited from World Wildlife Fund and other assistance over
the years but intensive exploitation of mangroves is a threat
to the marine environment of the region. The PM's report
envisages the creation of Ngongore game reserve and several
community forests and hunting zones. It also notes a need
for an inventory of possible touristic sites and the
construction of a hotel complex in Akwa.

Short Term Budget: $3.7 million

Social Sector

15. (U) Bakassi currently has three social welfare centers,
which the PM's report argues need to be rehabilitated and
better staffed. The Ministry of Land Tenure and State
Properties has initiated a land plan for Akwa (Kombo Abedimo)
and Edema Mbassi (Idabato); the PM's report would like to
finalize these plans and complete land partitioning and

Short Term Budget: $3.2 million


YAOUNDE 00001047 004 OF 005


16. (U) There has been "remarkable progress" in the
construction of District Officer (DO) offices and residence
of administrative authorities, while office space for
municipal and local councils is virtually nonexistent.
According to the report, this is in part a result of
constraints in the Greentree Agreement, which prohibits tax
collection in the localities during the transition period
leading up to 2013, and therefore deprives local governments
of resources. The report cites the need for construction and
rehabilitation of numerous DO and Council offices and
residences. The Ministry of Economy, Planning and
Territorial Administration (MINEPAT), which will have the
lead in administering development projects in Bakassi, has
constructed ten guest houses, several dock yards and other
buildings. The report envisages more guest houses and dock
yards and the initiation of rural micro-projects funded by
the European Union. The report also cites the need to
rehabilitate a dilapidated customs post at Bamusso and to
create several new customs offices.

Short Term Budget: $7.15 million

Next Steps

17. (U) The Chairman of the Bakassi Committee and Special
Advisor of the Prime Minister Ketuma told Pol/Econ Chief that
the GRC's vision is to bring Bakassi to the development level
of its neighboring areas in Cameroon by 2011 (presumably this
is the short term timeframe used in the report). He
highlighted the top priority of road construction, arguing
that building roads would help solve the region's security
challenges. The report is being reviewed by technical
ministries and will be the subject of an inter-agency meeting
in December, after the FY 2009 budget is passed, he said. At
the meeting, the GRC will determine how much of the Bakassi
development cost it will bear and how much support it will
seek from donors. Donors can then decide what they want to
support, he said.

18. (SBU) Ketuma opined that the poverty of Bakassi was due
to negligence from Nigeria and said the GRC's challenge was
to "win the hearts and minds" of the Nigerians who had left
and those who had hesitantly returned (though he thought most
had returned). When Pol/Econ Chief pointed out the
logistical and security challenges of development work in the
area, he insisted that development was the key to improving
Bakassi's security, once again highlighting the priority need
for roads.


19. (SBU) The PM's 135-page glossy report succeeds in
setting the stage and outlining some broad priorities within
each sector. However, it does not prioritize between sectors
and is heavily focused on construction projects (of roads,
health centers, schools etc.) rather than on technical
assistance, staffing, or other kinds of development. Some of
its budget proposals also seem questionable, with a higher
budget for tourism, forests and wildlife than for health or
energy, and a large budget for administrative buildings.

20. (SBU) It is not clear what weight the PM's report will
have. Several senior contacts at the Ministry of External
Relations have expressed skepticism about this report,
pointing out that it is just designed to set broad guidelines
and arguing the need for a priority focus on security in
Bakassi. The European Union is already planning to spend
over $5 million in multi-sector development support for
Bakassi, responding to funding requests from the Ministry of
Economy and Planning, without reference to the PM's report.
The GRC plans to approach individual donors to support
specific needs and appears to want the USG to focus on
security assistance. The recently completed, successful
Cameroon-Nigeria Joint Commission session (reftel) revealed
good will in both countries to cooperate on both development
and security in Bakassi. The pace and sequencing of this
process, and the possible involvement of foreign donors,
remains to be seen and will no doubt depend heavily on the
preferences of President Biya.

21. (SBU) Even with its shortcomings and the lack of
clarity about what will happen with the PM's report, it is
encouraging that the GRC is doing some planning for Bakassi
(not normally one of the government's strengths) and that it

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intends to incorporate many of these needs in the upcoming
budget. The United States has a strategic interest in
helping to stabilize the post-conflict, oil-rich Bakassi
area, which is challenged by organized banditry and other
illegal activities, and whose security and development have
implications for both Cameroon and Nigeria. As the
government further clarifies its development needs in
Bakassi, post will look for ways to provide support.


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