Youth empowerment in Cameroon: The Special Youth Triennial Plan
According to the African Youth Charter, youth are individuals aged between 15 to 35 years old. Cameroon’s population is estimated at about 23 million. Like most developing countries, the age pyramid is characterised by high proportion of youths with more than half of the population (63%) under 25 years.
Challenges for youth in Cameroon
Despite this demographic advantage, youth in Cameroon face a number of challenges, compromising their socio-economic potentials. Some of these challenges include: Unemployment, poverty, and; lack of access to basic social security services, just to name a few.
Youth empowerment programmes can generate better jobs in the informal sector, improving the prospects of youth regularly contributing to social security scheme available to the informal sector. With this in mind, the government of Cameroon has focused on developing policies and programmes that seek to accelerate the socio-economic empowerment and integration of this vulnerable group of people.
Youth empowerment in Cameroon
Over the years, the government has been focused on developing and implementing specific programmes aimed at providing concrete solutions to the major preoccupations youth face in Cameroon, namely:
- Access to both quality education and adequate professional training
- Access to descent jobs
- Participation in the day to day activities of the community as well as decision making
These important programmes and projects dedicated to the socio-economic integration of youths are performed in collaboration with the development partners, particularly in the areas of education, health and employment. They programs are coordinated by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Civic Education (MINJEC).
Youth empowerment programmes in Cameroon
- The Cameroon National Youth Council (CNJC): A framework for dialogue, expression, consultation and youth action; it interface with the youths, the government and development partners.
- Multipurpose Youth Empowerment Centres (CMPJ): Extracurricular coaching and accompanying structures for youth empowerment.
- The National Youth Employment Covenant (PANEJ): Aimed at promoting youth employment, It offers opportunities for young people to acquire a professional training and thus increase their chances of employment.
- The Integrated Support Project to Stakeholders of the Informal Sector (PIAASI): The aim is to ensure better supervision of youths operating in the informal sector and maximise the creation of productive, stable and decent jobs. It is intended through initiative to fund approximately 8 000 micro-projects and the training of their promoters.
- The Support Programme to Rural and Urban Youth (PAJER-U): This programme is aimed at creating salaried jobs for youth, and funding micro and junior enterprises.
A fresh approach to youth empowerment
Despite efforts made by the Government to ensure the socio-economic integration of youths through the above programmes, their impact has been limited. The jobs created are short-lived. In fact most of these jobs lead to the exacerbation of youth unemployment. For this reason, the Government launched the Special Youth Triennial Plan, which seeks to accelerate the socio-economic integration of youth.
1. The Special Youth Triennial Plan:
The Special Youth Triennial Plan was announced by the head of state during his traditional speech to the youth on February 10, 2016. The program was later launched in Cameroons capital Yaoundé, in January 2017.
The main goal of the three-year programme is to enhance civic education, social and economic integration of young people. It aims to achieve this by providing civic and entrepreneurial training, employment and setting youth up businesses. The plan serves as a umbrella for all related government projects designed for youths. This is to ensure better coherence be, monitoring and follow up.
The plan has three main objectives that cut across:
- Implementing a National Observing Body.
- The specialisation and reinforcement of the operational capacity of existing projects and programmes under MINJEC
- The development of infrastructure and equipment for social education and proximity coordination of youths.
iii. Target beneficiaries
The programme, worth 102 billion CFA franc targets 1.5 million young people between the ages of 15 and 35 who are seeking vocational or entrepreneurial training, job seekers, the self-employed, and those involved in any activity of collective interest. Out of the target number, 500 will be trained and oriented towards tasks corresponding to their needs every year.
The new programme ensures synergy of action in the implementation of priority projects specifically dedicated to young people in growth enhancing sectors. It also addresses the development of socio-educational facilities and equipment for the local mobilisation, coaching, and mentoring of young people. This is seen in the creation of Multi-Purpose Youth Empowerment Centres (MYECs) and Civic Service Centres.
Several projects have been synergised and placed under the MINJEC, namely:
- The Urban and Rural Youths Support Programme (PAJER U)
- The National Youth Fund (FONIJ)
- The National Youth Observatory Programme (PNV)
- Socio Economic Integration of Youths for the Creation of Micro Enterprises in the Manufacture of Sports Equipment (PIJMA)
2. Implementation of the Youth Triennial Plan:
The implementation phase started with the launch of the programme on January 11, 2017. Since then, a lot has been done to achieve its objectives.
i. The National Youth Observatory (NYO)
NYO has been set up under the MINJEC. It acts as an intermediary between young people and government structures. It serves as an information platform that brings young people closer to the opportunities offered by the government and informs the government about the aspirations and real needs of young people.
The NYO have begun the registration of 500,000 youths for social integration and economic empowerment. Its goal is to have 1,500,000 young people registered on the platform by 2019, at a rate of 500,000 per year. As of January 2018, 225,000 young people were already registered
ii. Digital economy
823 projects have been identified to be financed for 411 million CFAF in the first segment of 2018. Projects selected are those that will go a long way in impacting the community and creating direct or indirect change. 37 projects have been identified for funding at an estimated cost of about 415,023,281 CFA. The 37 young people considered as the first beneficiaries of the project were selected from 10 regions of Cameroon. 4,500 young people have been referred to various programmes and projects in various structures.
iii. Youth card “Carte Jeune”
A youth card has been designed for the purpose of meeting the expectation of the “Special-Youth” Plan. On December 15 2017, the Minister of Youth Affairs announced the creation of the youth card designed to enable youth benefit from low cost services. The card will enable youths across ten regions of Cameroon to benefit from health, transport, housing, tourism and voluntary insurance services. The card is obtained upon registration at NYO.
It is planned that in the long term, this youth card will give its owners the opportunity to benefit from nearly 600 services. For the time being, it gives access to training in entrepreneurship and management in multipurpose youth empowerment Centres, voluntary insurance, moral and civic rearmament, holiday internships, and funding of youth projects. Registration is performed at the various Multifunctional Centers for the Promotion of Youth (CMPJ). It is expected that by the end of 2018, 300,000 young people will benefit from basic social benefits related to the youth card.
The Special Youth Plan is a giant step towards the protection of youth in Cameroon as it promotes entrepreneurship and boosts the informal sector, which employs a greater percentage of youth. Providing jobs through the various programmes means youth will be able to contribute to the voluntary insurance scheme. The bio-metric youth card is a welcomed initiative given that it will go a long way to guarantee access to social security for youth. However, a great majority of youth are still not aware of the existence of these services. For this programme to achieve the desired impact, wide sensitisation is needed in Cameroon to reach out to all eligible beneficiaries.
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