The Regional Administrative Structure in Cameroon
By Ebenezer David Ngahna Mangmadi (Download pdf version here)
The Regional Administrative Structure in Cameroon
Be it from a common law or a special status, a regional and local authorities resulting from the constitutional reform of January 18, 1996, has an administration in charge of instructing and implementing the decisions taken by its executive organs. Under the authority of a secretary general who is appointed by the President of the Republic, it is implemented according to the standard organisation set out in decree n°2021/742 of 28 December 2021.
It should be noted that this important legal text taken in application of article 496 of law n°2019/024 of 24 December 2009 on the general code of regional and local authorities (hereafter CGCTD), has greatly contributed to the acceleration of the process of establishing the regions initiated by the elections of December 6, 2020. The configuration of the standard model of regional administration that it suggests, highlights a complex combination of structures with diverse functions, the articulation of which may vary from case to case.
This organisational scheme reveals the extent of the tasks that a regional administration must undertake, but it is not easy to access. As such, it deserves to be explained. This note is intended for professionals in the field of decentralisation, researchers and citizens seeking information. More clearly, the aim is to inform the reader about the subtleties of the structuring of the regional administration. To achieve this, it relies on an interpretive approach to the texts, mainly, the law n°2019/024 of 24 December 2019, and the decree of 28 December 2021. After presenting the different structures of the regional administration (I), the text will dwell on their articulation (II).
The different structures of the regional administration
The regional administration is mainly segmented. Apart from the special secretariat which deals with matters reserved for the head of the regional executive, the financial control which verifies the regularity of budgetary operations, and the regional receiver who ensures the collection of revenue and the payment of local expenditure, there are essentially two categories of structures.
On the one hand, there are the structures directly attached to the General Secretariat. Limited in scope by Article 4 of the aforementioned decree of 28 December 2021, their main mission is to assist the head of the regional administration in his administrative coordination functions. To this end, they are assigned to different tasks which are: administrative and legal monitoring of the activities of the regional institution, maintenance of information systems, communication and public relations, and mail management. Each of these activities has the legal and administrative affairs unit, the information systems unit, the communication and public relations unit, and finally, the mail service.
On the other hand, there are the technical structures of the regional administration. Unlike the first ones, they benefit from a greater functional density, and participate more actively, through their structures, in the effective deployment of the region. Listed in article 5 of the decree of 28 December 2021, there are three (03) of these structures. Firstly, there is the Directorate of Economic and Social Development, the linchpin of local development in the region. Divided into two sub-directorates in charge of economic affairs and social and cultural affairs respectively, it deals with issues affecting the industrial, tourism and craft sectors, as well as those relating to education, training, health, social affairs, arts, culture and sports. Then there is the division of infrastructures and regional planning. It is the secular arm of the regional administration in the field of public works and includes a brigade in charge of the follow-up of the investments made, and a unit for studies, planning and cooperation. Finally, there is the Directorate of General Affairs. Less involved in the field than its counterparts, this structure works, through its two sub-directorates, to manage the budget, contracts and human resources of the regional institution.
As we have just seen, the regional administration benefits from a diversity of structures. Depending on where you go from one region to another, their overall structure is flexible because it does not necessarily follow the same logic.
Articulation of the structures of the regional administration
The least that can be said about the regional administration is that its structure is flexible.
It is primarily flexible because the standard organisation of the regional administration does not provide any further details on the missions of all the structures that make it up. It is left to the various deliberative bodies,. i.e. the regional council and the regional assembly, to do so by means of deliberation. Thus, we could end up in situations where the Economic and Social Development Directorate of the Littoral Region does not have exactly the same attributions as that of the Far North Region.
It is also because the model organisation, as presented above, is not legally binding on the regions. It is purely indicative and can be modified from one region to another by deliberation of the competent deliberative body.
Finally, it is indicative because, with the exception of management structures such as the economic and social development directorate, the infrastructure and regional planning division and the general affairs directorate, the other structures of the regional administration may be grouped together, where a connection of responsibilities clearly suggests this. However, Article 12 paragraph 2 of the decree of 28 December 2021 warns that these groupings must in no case ‘undermine the continuity of the regional public service, nor compromise the proper exercise of the powers transferred by the State to the regions’.
In short, it is important to remember that the regional administration benefits from an organisation that is both consistent in terms of its structures and flexible in terms of its articulation. While this flexibility may give rise to some misunderstandings, it is nevertheless an important asset for the regions in terms of achieving their development objectives. In concrete terms, it enables the regional institution to avoid being sclerotic and to adapt to local realities, as is the spirit of territorial decentralisation.
 In the Cameroon law, the region is an institutional “Janus”, since it is both an administrative district and a decentralized territorial community. Considered in the framework of this study, it is endowed with legal personality and enjoys administrative and financial autonomy for regional interest management. On the fringes of common law, the regions of the North-West and South-West have been granted a special status based on their linguistic specificity and historical heritage.
 On the procedure for this appointment, see Article 323 of the CGCTD.
 Article 3 of the Decree of 28 December 2021
 Article 436 of CGCTD
 Article 438 of CGCTD
 Article 6 para 1 of the Decree of 28 December 2021
 Article 6 para 2 of the Decree of 28 December 2021
 Article 6 para 3 of the Decree of 28 December 2021
 Article 7 para of the Decree of 28 December 2021
 Article 7 para 3 of the Decree of 28 December 2021
 Article 8 para 2 of the Decree of 28 December 2021
 Article 8 para 3 of the Decree of 28 December 2021
 Article 11 of the Decree of 28 December 2021
 Article 11 para 2 of the Decree of 28 December 2021
 Article 12 para 1 of the Decree of 28 December 2021