“Youths Are Enterprising By Default”

By Victorine BIY, Cameroon Tribune
Prof. Fondo Sikod, Economist, University of Yaounde II, Soa, spoke to Cameroon Tribune on youth entrepreneurship in Cameroon.
How do you appraise the youth entrepreneurship situation in Cameroon?
The youth are very enterprising because they need to survive. They are enterprising by default. They are involved in various economic activities like motorcycle taxi business, hawking, farming, and various types of odd jobs.
These show the entrepreneurial aptitudes and tendencies of the youth. Unfortunately, these activities are all in the informal and very precarious sector. These young people are into these activities to give themselves dignity.
Two major problems of youth entrepreneurship in Cameroon, like in most other Sub-Saharan African countries, stand out: guidance, especially for those with some reasonable level of education, and financing of their activities. 
Government has put in place programmes and projects (PIFMAS, PAJER-U, PIASSI to mitigate the situation. What, according to you, has changed thus far?
As mentioned above, the fundamental problems that young entrepreneurs face is the lack of guidance and proper training and inadequate or complete lack of financing. These programmes and projects targeting young entrepreneurs is the government’s way of providing a solution. They show the good intentions of the State. Unfortunately, like most other State activities, these are likely to be plagued by management and corruption. There is also the lack of real goodwill on the part of those managing them. Emphasis should therefore be placed on follow up and evaluation of these projects so as to measure their real impact in the development of the entrepreneurial abilities of the youth. I would encourage that the private sector be given the opportunity to lead and manage these programmes and projects. Changes so far are not yet visible. 
Taking a closer look at these projects and programmes, are you convinced that their conception and execution could boost entrepreneurship and solve the problem of unemployment? If not how could they be readjusted?
It is undeniable that these government programmes and projects, that is, PIFMAS, PAJER-U, PIASSI and others like PAIJA, PADER, are instruments to fight youth unemployment. These programmes and projects are lodged in various government ministries and the National Employment Fund [(PIFMAS, PAJER-U in MINJEC; PIASSI in MINEFOP; PAIJA in MINADER; PADER in FNE). This is a dispersed way of handling such an important issue, not to mention the fact that in the ministries, it is managed by civil servants.  It would be important to revisit the organisational structure of these programmes and projects. An autonomous agency with a clearly-defined measurable mandate dedicated to guiding and job-creation would be a more effective approach.
What should be the new approach in tackling youth entrepreneurship vis-à-vis government’s development objectives?
Given that Cameroon is in the process of decentralizing, the new approach in the development of entrepreneurship for the youth is for the State to transfer some competences (know-how) to the decentralized local communities in order to create therein, productive network centres dedicated to the development of entrepreneurial activities specific to each community.
The educational system needs to be revisited. The objective of education in Cameroon is not very clear, and yet it provides the base for the production of know-how and job-creation. Quality education is needed.


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