Saturday, May 21, 2011

Cameroon:Pushing SONARA Towards Social Responsibility

By *Zama Gordon

With recent developments in the Petroleum industry in Cameroon such as the Green Tree
Accords and the eventual decision to hand over Bakassi to Cameroon, the petroleum Industry 
has been taken to the fore and more Public attention is being paid to SONARA social
policies. SONARA is Camerooon's National Refining Company

For Cameroon to benefit fully from its increase Oil potentials and avoid the usual ills
accompanying Oil production in Africa it is important that its Oil companies take steps to
avoid the failures and problems faced by neighboring countries.
Social investment is not only the responsibilty of  Government,which receives taxes but also
that of the companies that exploit these resources and the banks which finance their

The African Center for Research Development and Climate Change (AFREDECC) carried out a 
research which showed a great disparity between SONARA and the local communities. The local
communities showed great a lack of Knowledge of SONARAs activities and the impacts of her
activities on their lives. They also declared their desire for an improvement in social
investment by one of Cameroons most profitable enterprises and an overall majority of those
sampled said the relations with the corporation was poor.
The research ,it should be noted ,showed that 75% of the respondents were not aware of the
environmental impact of SONARA’s activities on their lives.
It further revealed that 88% of them did not think that the presence of SONARA in the South
West reduces local unemployment.Sixty-four(64%)of the respondents described as weak
relationship bewtween SONARA and its surrounding communities

 AFREDECC has therefore invited SONARA, local administrative authorities, traditional 
authorities and representatives of the civil society to attend a consultative meeting during
which proposals for improvement can be discussed. But SONARA is yet to respond to the
invitation at the time of posting this article.
We are therefore calling on the population of the Southwest Region  in general and Limbe in
particular to join all the other stakeholders and attend the planned consultative meeting.

The traditional authorities, Civil Society groups and the Limbe II Council amongst others
have given their full back up for the project since the views expressed by the population is
a clear reflection of what they think obtains in the area –Mokundange which hosts the

For the relationship between SONARA and the surrounding communities to improve there has to
be an improvement in the level of communication. SONARA has to privilege
Communication of SONARAs activities so that the communities can understand what SONARA
really does and how SONARA generates her income.
There has to be a total increase in the level of communication of safety and environmental
issues affecting the company and how these impacts the life’s of the local population.
People have to understand how they relate with SONARA negatively or positively.
SONARA has to comply with national and international regulations and standards on
environment and safety.

SONARA has to create a public fund from its public relations budget. This fund has to be
managed independently with representatives from SONARA, local administration, civil society
and traditional council. This fund would be responsible for social investment in the
localities were she operates and would have to give a report of her activities to the
general public for accountability. Priority areas for funding should be discussed on the
SONARA should create a code for local and youth employment. The should be a clear strategy
for integrating locals into the Corporations labour force.

We therefore call on all the stakeholders who share our view to mobilize and be part of the
consultative meeting, put their voices together and produce a memorandum as well as follow
us in the next phase of our advocacy project- mass media campaign and peaceful street

* Zama Gordon is Director of African Center for Research Development and Climate Change
(AFREDECC),Limbe -Cameroon

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