Dear young compatriots,

In my address to you at this same time last year, I gave you a glimpse of our renewed economic growth and, of course, positive job creation prospects. Well, this recovery was confirmed in the course of last year. There are statistics to prove it.

As I mentioned in my 2014 end-of-year message, 283 443 jobs have been created by government services and enterprises. In 2015, we expect 350 000 new jobs to be created. At this time next year, we will have the opportunity to take stock of all the jobs created since 2011.

Obviously, this is commendable. However, we must also recognize that we are far from a glorious sustainable recovery that can alone transform our country into an eldorado.  

Such bright spell must be sustainable and consolidated to lead to economic emergence. At any rate, our youth will continue to reap its benefits.  

I am well aware that many of you, whether educated or not, are unemployed. I am well aware that to survive, many of you resort to precarious options that are unrelated to your training or qualification. 

This situation is in several cases due to the global context as well as our educational system.

For nearly twenty years, unfair terms of trade and successive economic and financial crises have slowed down our development process and thus made job opportunities scarce.

Another possible cause is the delay in gearing our educational system towards professionalization. 

For a long time, we believed that it sufficed to make education accessible to the greatest number and continually raise its level, to mechanically resolve the unemployment problem. 

Our primary, secondary and high schools, universities and professional schools must constantly adapt to the changing world. In our quest for development, we should be guided by the need to train youths who are capable of building our country.

Technological advancement has changed the way things are done. The new economy is computer-dominated. We should focus on training technicians and engineers. The ongoing professionalization of secondary and higher education seeks to meet this requirement. In this light, manual labour, which has been neglected, will definitely need to be given its deserved place from primary school.

In a country like ours, whose ambitions in the areas of agriculture, mining, tourism, arts, sports and the environment are an open secret, and where handicraft and small enterprises still occupy a prominent position, it is indispensable to have better training institutions that prepare our youth for these trades.

These sectors are real niches for growth and skilled jobs such as plumbing, electricity and motor and industrial mechanics.

Industrialization, especially key anchor projects and our agricultural policy will only increase our needs in these specialties. Needless to point out that in more advanced countries, such trades are often better paid than those in the business and service sectors.

From that perspective, given the relatively recent adoption of professionalization of education in Cameroon, its impact on employment will definitely not be immediate.  

You might then ask me: given the urgency and the fact that youth are naturally impatient, what do we do and how?

I urge the Government to use the existing structures to continue providing vocational training, promoting self-employment and micro-project financing. I also urge every trades chamber, employers’ organization, in short, the private sector, to pull its own weight.

Dear young compatriots,

Our country’s ongoing and    irreversible transformation is only possible with you, and for you.

How could it be otherwise when the youth represent one half of our population?

The youth are also known to be passionate. That, I understand. However, they should show some moderation in their drive and be realistic. 

Do not be misled notably by birds of ill omen, dreamers and enthusiasts of virtual calls for destabilization through the social networks. These irresponsible prophets are desperately seeking to manipulate you.

Never has our national cohesion been as indispensable as during this delicate period when our country is facing external threat from barbaric enemies. 

It is not at a time when our nation’s outlook is bright that we should listen to calls for division and destabilization.

Dear young compatriots,

I have always trusted you. I know you treasure our unity. I know you cherish peace, progress and justice. I also know your good sense and your pragmatism. 

I am certain that the horrific scenes being witnessed in some countries torn by civil war, religious conflicts, population displacements and anarchy will deter you from getting involved in such adventures.

Take the example of our young soldiers who are ensuring our security along our borders.  Their bravery, their sense of duty and sacrifice show us what utmost love for fatherland can be.

The war they are waging on our behalf, at the risk of their lives, involves the entire Nation. There is no doubt that with the support of us all, we will emerge victorious. Friendly countries that cherish peace and freedom, the international community and world opinion are on our side.

Happy Youth Day to all of you!

Long live the Cameroonian youth!

Long live Cameroon!

Yaounde, 10 February 2015

Download the Head of State's message (pdf)