The population of any country, Cameroon inclusive, is or should be, an invaluable development tool. Having a major proportion of this population made up of youth, with their vibrant being, state of mind and even ingenuity, makes them non-negligible growth assets. Of the estimated over 23 million Cameroonians in 2017, up from 17 million in 2005, records show that nearly 50 per cent of them are made up of the active labour force (15-59 years).
As Cameroon dreams of attaining a middle-income economy status by 2035, particular attention is on the youth who have proven time and again, and in a multitude of sectors, that they are forces to reckon with. They are creative, results-driven, daring and possess needed talents to cause turnarounds in the country. So many of them are bringing joy to the fatherland already.
Little wonder the Head of State in his 2017 Youth Day address qualified the country’s youth as full of vitality. President Paul Biya’s posture was that of a satisfactory father whose incessant calls for youth to fully integrate the development chain have been heeded to. He told his young compatriots, “I think I have been understood by many of you, like our dear Indomitable Lions, whose remarkable victory at the recent Africa Cup of Nations brought great jubilation to our people. The new feat achieved by the Indomitable Lions barely a few weeks after the equally remarkable performance of our Women’s National Football Team in a similar competition, confirms the vitality of our youth and demonstrates to the world that ‘impossible is un-Cameroonian.” The sublime performance of the football boys and girls at a time many bookmakers had written them off showcased what determination and love for country can fetch, especially at a time such life virtues are almost being thrown to the dogs.
The vitality shown in football today, like in the yesteryears in other individual and team sports, has been marched by other young compatriots in diverse areas of national life. For instance, Arthur Zang, a young Cameroonian University IT Specialist, has used his technological prowess to pioneer cardiac health care in the country. His now famous Cardio-Pad (handheld medical computer tablet) which allows health care workers in the rural milieu to send the results of cardiac tests to specialists via a mobile phone connection, is a source of pride and hope for the youngster and his country. Such examples abound in the country and Mr Biya understood this well when he said, “You demonstrate similar commitment in your various activities which contribute to our country’s inexorable march towards emergence.”
The talent, courage and patriotic commitment of the youth showcased in their diverse fields are eloquent testimonies that investments in youth are not only investments in human capital but equally investment for the future. Cameroonian youth have proven that they are imbued with talents which need to be identified, groomed and harnessed. Government, from observation, is already making strides here through the various existing youth-enhancement programmes and the multiple training centres and institutes where youth capacities are sharpened. Diverse scholarships within and without the country are equally great sources of empowerment for Cameroon youth. Many youngsters continue to tap from such fountains.
As the young continually show proof of their resourcefulness, government undoubtedly has an uphill task to create a conducive environment for them to demonstrate their know-how and contribute to nation building. Anything short of this would regrettably lead to brain drain whose negative consequences are telling to a country, notably ours that needs all and sundry to stand up to the challenges of the time. Failing to harness these rich and vibrant young human resources would be synonymous with allowing them, helpless and vulnerable as they could be, at the beck and call of power mongers, with inevitable destructive outcomes. God forbid! They should rather be used to positively influence their peers with ingenuity that the country badly needs to rise above growing socio-political and development challenges.