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Crisis and Neoliberal Reforms in Africa

Civil Society and Agro-Industry in Anglophone Cameroonís Plantation Economy

Piet Konings

Publication Year: 2010

This book discusses the social and political consequences of the economic and financial crisis that befell African economies since the 1980s, using as case study the plantation economy of the Anglophone region of Cameroon. The focus is thus on recent efforts to liberalize and privatize an agro-industrial enterprise where overseas capital and its domestic partners have converged, the consequent modes of production and labour, and the alternatives proposed and resistance generated. The study details how the unprecedented crisis caused great commotion in the region, and presented a serious challenge to existing theories on plantation production and capital accumulation. The crisis resulted in the introduction of a number of neoliberal economic reforms, including the withdrawal of state intervention and the restructuring, liquidation and privatisation of the major agro-industrial enterprises. These reforms in turn had severe consequences for several civil-society groups and their organisations that had a direct stake in the regional plantation economy, notably the regional elite, chiefs, plantation workers and contract farmers. On the basis of extensive research in the Anglophone Cameroon region, Konings shows that these civil-society groups have never resigned themselves to their fate but have been actively involved in a variety of formal and informal modes of resistance.

Published by: African Books Collective

Title Page

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pp. iii

Copyright Page

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pp. iv


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii

This volume is the result of extensive research I have done over many years on the most important agro-industrial enterprises in Anglophone Cameroon’s plantation economy. From the very start, I was able to benefit from previous studies on these enterprises, notably the outstanding work of Edwin and Shirley Ardener...

List of Tables

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pp. ix


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pp. xi-xiii

Map of the Republic of Cameroon

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pp. xiv

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1. Civil society and Anglophone Cameroon’s agro-industrial crisis and reforms

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pp. 1-41

Anglophone Cameroon is somewhat exceptional in the West and Central African region in the sense that a plantation economy was established there during the German colonial era (1884-1916) and has remained as a dominant feature of the regional economy ever since. ...

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2. Ethno-regional groups and associations in the South West Province and the agro-industrial crisis

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pp. 43-67

The agro-industrial crisis, which started in the early 1980s, has had serious consequences for the CDC and Pamol and brought them both to the verge of collapse. Pamol was put into voluntary liquidation by its mother company, Unilever, in October 1987 and has been up for sale ever since. ...

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3. CDC workers and the agro-industrial crisis

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pp. 69-94

Surprisingly, while it is now widely accepted that wage workers have been among the most seriously affected by the economic crisis and structural adjustment programmes (SAPs) in Africa, their responses have hardly been studied. The existing literature tends to focus on the actions of central labour organisations and their defence of...

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4. Trade unions and Pamol’s crisis and liquidation

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pp. 95-124

Trade union formation was more difficult on the Pamol estates than at the CDC and it was not until independence and reunification in 1961 that a permanent trade union, the Pamol Cameroon Workers’ Union (PCWU), was set up at Pamol. The PCWU proved to be weaker than the CDCWU. ...

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5. Chieftaincy and the privatisation of the CDC

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pp. 125-146

Privatisation has been a key instrument in the stabilisation and Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs) imposed on Africa by the Bretton Woods institutions. It is an essential part of the overall strategy to open up African economies to market forces and promote private-sector development. ...

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6. Privatisation and labour militancy: The case of Cameroon’s tea estates

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pp. 147-171

Privatisation is an essential part of an overall neo-liberal reform package aimed at creating transparency and accountability in the management of national affairs as well as a favourable environment for opening up African economies to market forces and private-sector development (World Bank 1989, 1992; Sandbrook 2000). ...

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7. CDC smallholder development and the agro-industrial crisis

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pp. 188-200

In some post-colonial states there has been a shift from plantation production to smallholder production. This is clearly the case in Kenya where the area devoted to tea by smallholders increased by about 250% during the 1970s, while the area under tea on estates displayed only a slight increase (cf. Swainson 1985). ...

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8. Pamol’s contract farmers and cooperatives: Their development in response to the agro-industrial crisis

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pp. 201-217

Like the CDC, Pamol has played a pioneering role among the agro-industrial enterprises in Cameroon regarding contract farming. Soon after independence and reunification, it began a contract farming scheme near its oil palm estates in response to government requests to agro-industrial enterprises to play an intermediary role in regional development. ...


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pp. 219-243


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pp. 245-262

Back cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9789956579266
Print-ISBN-13: 9789956578030

Page Count: 278
Publication Year: 2010