The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has let Cameroon’s President Paul Biya know that his nation will no longer host the 2019 African Nations Cup competition. The decision is a humiliation. Once a powerhouse of Africa’s football, Cameroon’s reputation had dropped significantly.
CAF’s decision serves as a reminder that the country is sinking, and something must be done.
Until a few years ago Cameroon was a nation on the move. Despite its many political, economic and social problems, the country was peaceful, attracted people from all over for tourism, business, and education.
For example the University of Dayton had, over two decades, run immersion programmes in the country, and so did many other American universities. Cameroon was also an international centre where major conferences, symposia, and cultural activities took place.
The nation was a major banking centre, as well as host to Nigerian businessman Aliko Dangote’s many activities, and more recently the proposed site of car assembly plants to be constructed by Indian and Chinese businesses. And the list goes on.
But the Anglophone conflict has taken its toll. A peaceful protest which began three years ago against the marginalisation of Anglophone Cameroon quickly turned violent as some called for the region’s complete secession from Cameroon to form the Ambazonia Republic. As a result Cameroon’s military force and the Ambazonia Defence force have been locked in a deadly embrace with no end in sight.
Already in the 7th term of office as president, Biya’s obsession with a military solution to the crisis has exacerbated tensions, as well as the misery of ordinary people.
Beneath CAF’s rationale that Cameroon was ill-ready, ill-equipped and ill-prepared to host the games was a sense that the country is deeply insecure. The cities of Limbe and Buea in the heartland of Anglophone Cameroon were going to host the games. But routine kidnappings, attacks, road closings, and killings in the region would have undermined the essence of the games.
CAF’s announcement coincided with the failure of a last-ditch effort by His Eminence Cardinal Christian Tumi to broker peace and convene an All Anglophone Conference. But the culture of threats, and Cameroon government’s failure to grant a permit for the conference to take place meant that it was doomed.
As the brickbats fell, conditions for communities in the Anglophone region continue to deteriorate. And while debates continue to rage about the rights and wrongs of widely publicised suggested solutions such as federalism, decentralisation, and secession, ordinary people continue to chafe in their daily lives.
What’s being lost
As the warring factions stand eyeball to eyeball waiting to see who will blink first, few are asking how the outcome of the struggle will change the lives of ordinary people in the region.
Yet the impact has been enormous. There are immense economic and social consequences which have transformed communities and their way of life.
Cameroonians who would go home for Christmas holidays and other festivities no longer do so. Their spending stimulated the economy. In email correspondences and responses to questionnaires with people in Kumba and Buea, local people are noting that Cameroonians living in other countries are no longer coming home for their holidays. As a result businesses, such as hotels, are barely holding on.
There has been more profound economic consequences. The region’s main agrobusiness facility, the Cameroon Development Corporation, the heart of the region’s economy, is in ruins. Plantations which produce palm oil are no longer operational. Workers at banana plantations are brutalised and rubber processors have been repeatedly attacked. Families that depended on cocoa for livelihood now face a life of destitution.
Another disturbing aspect of the conflict is the gradual erosion of key parts of people’s culture. Funeral celebrations are a significant aspect of Cameroonian culture. But in conversations with people, it appears these festivities are disappearing. Irrespective of where people reside, Cameroonians typically prefer their burial sites to be in their village of origin. But not anymore. Increasingly, people are buried anywhere possible.
Visits to burial sites of friends and family members have turned into a deadly experience. For example, going to Lewoh in Lebialem, is unthinkable because of the violence.
And there is more. In communities in Anglophone Cameroon, basic services such as trash collection no longer exist. Trash is piling up in the cities. And corpses can be seen on roadways. Businesses that traditionally operated in the evenings have been bankrupted.
The list of hardship goes on. School buildings remain empty. And both refugees and internally displaced people are nowhere close to returning to their homes.
Time to re-assess
The recurring accusation is La Republique has caused these problems. But it’s not all the fault of La Republique. Given that some of the attacks are undertaken by Anglophones, they have become accomplices to the violence. No wonder ordinary people are increasingly asking more direct questions about the benefits of the revolt they were promised.
Uber Technologies Inc is planning to integrate into its app the bus and Tube timetables of Transport for London, the government body in charge of the capital's transport network, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter.
The move would put Uber into direct competition with venture capital-backed start-up Citymapper, the report said.
Uber did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment outside regular business hours.
A Chinese court has ordered a sales ban of some older Apple Inc iPhone models in China for violating two patents of chipmaker Qualcomm Inc, though intellectual property lawyers said enforcement of the ban was likely still a distant threat.
The case, brought by Qualcomm, is part of a global patent dispute between the two U.S. companies that includes dozens of lawsuits. It creates uncertainty over Apple's business in one of its biggest markets at a time when concerns over waning demand for new iPhones are battering its shares.
Apple said on Monday that all of its phone models remained on sale in mainland China and that it had filed a request for reconsideration with the court, the first step in a long appeal process that could end up at China's Supreme Court.
"It's incredibly unlikely, I'd say almost impossible (that Apple would have to stop sales)," said a Beijing-based IP lawyer who is not directly connected with the Qualcomm case but has worked with large U.S. tech firms.
"In all likelihood it will drag on for some time. It's worth keeping in mind that this is just one battle in a larger rift", he said, referring to the legal fight between Qualcomm and Apple that stretches from European courts to South Korea.
Qualcomm said in a statement the Fuzhou Intermediate People's Court in China found Apple infringed two patents held by the chipmaker and ordered an immediate ban on sales of older iPhone models, from the 6S through the X.
Apple said the trio of new models released in September were not part of the case.
"Qualcomm's effort to ban our products is another desperate move by a company whose illegal practices are under investigation by regulators around the world," Apple said.
Reuters couldn't immediately reach the court for comment.
China, Hong Kong and Taiwan are Apple's third-largest market, accounting for about one-fifth of Apple's $265.6 billion in sales in its most recent fiscal year.
Qualcomm, the biggest supplier of chips for mobile phones, filed its case in China in late 2017, arguing that Apple infringed patents on features related to resizing photographs and managing apps on a touch screen.
COURT BATTLE OVER DETAILS
In July, the same court banned the import of some microchips by Micron Technology Inc into China, citing violation of patents held by Taiwan's United Microelectronics Corp (UMC).
In the provincial Chinese court, which is separate from China's specialized intellectual property courts in Beijing, one party can request a ban on an opponent's product without the opponent getting a chance to present a defense.
IP lawyers said that an appeal process could take the case up to the Fujian provincial high court and then go as far as the Supreme Court in Beijing, a process that would likely take many months given the high-profile nature of the case. To enforce the ban, Qualcomm separately will have to file complaints in what is known as an enforcement tribunal, where Apple will also have a chance to appeal.
Yiqiang Li, a patent lawyer at Faegre Baker Daniels, said the Chinese injunction could put pressure on Apple to reach a global settlement with Qualcomm.
Apple shares rose less than 1 percent to $169.60, recovering from an early drop when it became clear phones were still on sale, and Qualcomm stock rose 2.2 percent to $57.24.
TRADE WAR IMPACT?
The ruling comes as Beijing and Washington are locked in a tense trade dispute. The two sides have agreed to trade negotiations that must be concluded by March 1. While IP lawyers said the case wasn't directly political, most agreed it could be drawn into broader Sino-U.S. trade tensions, where technology and IP have been a core focus.
The specific iPhone models affected by the preliminary ruling in China are the iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X. Erick Robinson, a patent lawyer in Beijing and former Qualcomm lawyer, said that while Chinese courts had become fairer in recent years, nationalism could sometimes be a factor in rulings.
Qualcomm is a key technology vendor to China's rising smart phone brands such as Xiaomi Corp, Oppo, Vivo and OnePlus, while Apple competes directly against Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL], China's top homegrown maker of premium-priced smartphones, whose CFO was arrested this month for allegedly violating U.S. sanctions.
"There is probably a political play here. Apple is a direct competitor to the biggest companies in China, whereas Qualcomm is a supplier," Robinson said.
Qualcomm officials said tensions between the two nations had no bearing on the ruling. The company has had its share of troubles in China, from an unfavorable 2014 antitrust ruling to regulatory limbo that doomed its $44 billion bid for Dutch chipmaker NXP Semiconductors.