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AN ASSESSMENT OF URBANIZATION AND ITS EFFECTS ON POLITICAL DYNAMICS IN CAMEROON

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AN ASSESSMENT OF URBANIZATION AND ITS EFFECTS ON POLITICAL DYNAMICS IN CAMEROON

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background of the study

Urbanisation is a pervasive worldwide occurrence that is fundamentally altering geographical features, economic systems, and social structures, hence exerting substantial influence on political dynamics. Cameroon, situated in the region of Central Africa, has seen a significant process of urbanisation in recent decades. According to the most recent statistics, almost 57% of Cameroon's population lives in urban areas, and this percentage is expected to consistently rise in the future (Akinsete, 2019). The phenomenon of urbanisation is propelled by a multitude of variables, including rural-urban migration, ecological population expansion, and the concentration of economic prospects inside urban hubs (Amare, 2021). 

Urbanisation has a wide range of interconnected and intricate impacts on political dynamics, including governance structures, political involvement, social cohesion, and policy formation. It is of utmost importance for policymakers, researchers, and people to comprehend these impacts, especially within the specific context of a nation such as Cameroon, where the issues of political stability and democratic governance have considerable significance (Baydakova, 2021).  The restructuring of conventional power structures is a significant part of how urbanisation affects political dynamics. The migration of rural inhabitants to urban regions often entails the introduction of a wide range of cultural backgrounds, beliefs, and expectations. The presence of a large number of urban inhabitants has the potential to disrupt established political norms and power structures, resulting in changes in election patterns, the creation of coalitions, and the implementation of governance methods (Connor and Gonzalez‎Barrera, 2019). 

Moreover, the process of urbanisation facilitates the development of new social movements, interest groups, and civil society organisations. Urban areas have emerged as focal points for activism, whereby individuals get together to advocate for a range of causes including environmental sustainability, social justice, and human rights. Harrisberg (2019) asserts that these movements apply significant influence on political institutions and leaders, advocating for the principles of accountability, openness, and responsiveness.  Furthermore, urbanisation is associated with shifts in economic dynamics, where metropolitan areas often act as catalysts for economic expansion and innovation. As urban populations experience growth, there is a corresponding increase in economic disparities and inequality, leading to the emergence of tensions that may express in political contestation. Topics such as the availability of essential services, the cost of housing, and the availability of employment possibilities play a crucial role in political conversations, influencing election campaigns and policy priorities (Honwana, 2015). 

Moreover, the geographical clustering of heterogeneous people in metropolitan regions presents prospects for intergroup engagement and the formation of coalitions. Many cities in Cameroon are characterised by ethnic, religious, and linguistic variety, which provides opportunities for cross-cultural communication and collaboration. Nevertheless, it is important to acknowledge that these contacts have the potential to intensify tensions and conflicts rooted in identity, hence exerting an impact on political alignments and election results (Igbohor, 2017). 

To comprehend the intricate relationship between urbanisation and political dynamics in Cameroon, a comprehensive investigation necessitates the incorporation of perspectives from several academic fields such as urban studies, political science, sociology, economics, and anthropology. Researchers may get a deeper understanding of how urbanisation influences political processes and results in Cameroon by analysing its geographical, social, economic, and political aspects (Igbohor, 2017). 

This research aims to evaluate the impact of urbanisation on political dynamics in Cameroon, taking into account these factors. This study seeks to get a thorough knowledge of the impact of urbanisation on governance, political involvement, and power relations in Cameroon by examining demographic trends, socioeconomic indicators, election statistics, and qualitative insights from urban inhabitants. The results of this research have the potential to provide valuable insights for evidence-based policy interventions that seek to enhance inclusive and responsive governance in response to the continuous trends of urbanisation.

1.2 Statement of the problem

The phenomenon of rapid urbanisation is a prominent characteristic of modern cultures, exerting a substantial impact on socio-political environments on a worldwide scale. The process of urbanisation in Cameroon has been experiencing rapid growth, resulting in significant changes to the demographic makeup, geographical arrangement, and socio-economic dynamics of urban areas (Igbohor, 2017). Nevertheless, there is still a lack of comprehensive understanding of the specific impacts of urbanisation on political processes. Hence, the primary objective of this study is to examine the diverse effects of urbanisation on political processes and structures within the context of Cameroon. Although urbanisation in Cameroon is well acknowledged, there is a dearth of thorough comprehension of its rate, trends, and catalysts across various areas and urban hubs. The political environment in Cameroon is marked by intricacies stemming from historical inheritances, ethnic variety, and institutional structures (Irune, 2018). Nonetheless, there is a lack of clarity on the precise manner in which urbanisation interacts with these processes, exerting influence on government, representation, and public involvement. Urbanisation is expected to have many socio-political impacts, such as shifts in power dynamics, increased political engagement, and the rise of new social movements. Comprehending these consequences is essential for evaluating the durability and flexibility of political institutions in response to urban change. Furthermore, with the growth of urban populations, there is an increasing need for public services, infrastructure, and efficient government (Ishaku, 2021). A critical analysis is necessary to assess the ability of political institutions to effectively address these difficulties and promote fair development in the context of urbanisation processes. The results of this study will make a valuable contribution to the creation of evidence-based policies that seek to foster equitable urban development and enhance democratic governance in Cameroon. In order to accomplish this objective, it is important to possess a thorough comprehension of the interconnections between urbanisation and political processes (Ishaku, 2021).  This issue statement highlights the need for comprehensive study to clarify the complex relationship between urbanisation and political processes in Cameroon. The acquisition of such insights is crucial in order to effectively tackle deficiencies in governance, improve political representation, and promote socio-political stability in the face of continuous urban transitions.

1.3 Objective of the study

The broad objectives of the study is to assess urbanization and its effects on political dynamics in Cameroon. The specific objectives is as follows

To examine the level of urbanization in Cameroon over the past decade.

To analyze the relationship between urbanization and shifts in political power structures within Cameroon.

To investigate the  factors influencing political dynamics in urban areas of Cameroon.

1.4 Research questions

The following questions have been prepared to guide the study

What is the level of urbanization in Cameroon over the past decade?

Is there a  relationship between urbanization and shifts in political power structures within Cameroon?

What are  the  factors influencing political dynamics in urban areas of Cameroon?

1.5 Significance of the study

The findings of the study will be significant to the following 

Policymakers: Understanding how urbanization influences political dynamics can provide crucial insights for policymakers in Cameroon. As urban populations grow, there may be a need for new policies to address the evolving needs and challenges of urban communities. This research can help identify areas where policy interventions are necessary to ensure effective governance and political representation.

Academia: the findings of the study will be beneficial to the academic community as it will contribute to the existing literature.

1.6 Scope of the study

The study focuses on assess urbanization and its effects on political dynamics in Cameroon. Empirically, the study will examine the level of urbanization in Cameroon over the past decade, analyze the relationship between urbanization and shifts in political power structures within Cameroon, investigate the  factors influencing political dynamics in urban areas of Cameroon.

1.7 Limitation of the study

Like in every human endeavour, the researchers encountered slight constraints while carrying out the study. Insufficient funds tend to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire, and interview), which is why the researcher resorted to a moderate choice of sample size. More so, the researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. As a result, the amount of time spent on research will be reduced.

1.8 Definition of terms

Political Stability: Political stability refers to the state of a government or nation where there is a relative absence of political turmoil, unrest, or violent conflict. It encompasses the ability of a political system to maintain continuity, uphold rule of law, and ensure the functioning of governmental institutions without significant disruption.

Prospects: Prospects in the context of this research refer to the likely future outcomes or possibilities concerning political stability and democratic consolidation in Cameroon. It involves analyzing potential developments, trends, and factors that may influence the trajectory of political processes within the country.

Democratic Consolidation: Democratic consolidation refers to the process by which a democratic system becomes firmly established and ingrained within a society, characterized by the widespread acceptance of democratic norms, practices, and institutions. It involves the strengthening of democratic principles such as free and fair elections, protection of human rights, accountability, and the rule of law over time.


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