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"Youth Ministers focus on action, implementation"
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"Youth Ministers focus on action, implementation"

Alphonse Akouyu

Youth Ministers and youth representatives agree on the need to ensure action follows new policies, writes Alphonse Akouyu, 20, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Cameroon as he reports on the Africa Region Commonwealth Youth Ministers meeting in Yaounde.

The Africa Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting (AR-CYMM) is now history, talking time is over and it is time to start the real work.

Commonwealth Deputy Secretary General, His Excellency Deodat Maharaj, was right when he told participants during the official opening ceremony of the conference that Yaounde would be the center of the Commonwealth throughout their deliberations. It certainly lived up to expectations, given what we saw during the conference.

The Yaounde conclave brought together the two major actors involved in the youth mission: those who make the decisions and the representatives of those affected by the decisions. It was facilitated by the man in the middle, which is the Commonwealth.

The problems facing the African youth in the 21st century are diverse in nature, but the real problem is how to go about the solution and who to work with in terms establishing a pathway to development. Both the ministers and the youths we spoke to in Yaounde agreed on one fact, that there are too many youth representatives and non-governmental organizations all wanting to work for youths. There is therefore the need for harmonization in terms of youth groups, especially in their objectives and spheres.

Participants also agree that two reasons account for these division. They are betrayal in the original mission by senior youths who started these initiatives, and what Pan African Youth Union President Francine Muyumba called manipulations from self-interest groups. Youths Ministers complained about the large number of youth groups, but one youth delegate told us that governments allowed that problem to happen by not controlling the number of youth organizations within their respective countries. Even the national youth councils themselves are not free from this web of confusion, as another delegate told us that they contribute to this problem when more often than not, they have their own agenda and not an agenda for common good.

Another point highlighted during the conference was the many different agendas at the level of the international organizations involved in youth work. Participants at the conference agreed that there are too many different youth agendas and time frames from the Commonwealth, the African Union, and the United Nations which sometimes end up clashing with the national youth policies and development strategies. For example, Cameroon is a member of the United Nations, Commonwealth, Francophonie, and Central African Economic and Monetary Union (CEMAC). This means that in real terms, the country has to adhere to four youth agendas plus its own national youth policy frame work. Participants called for harmonization of the different youth agendas in consultation with the youth development strategies of their respective governments. This falls in line with the advice of one youth minister who said it is important to harmonize youth policies in terms of specific country goals which can be measured by common indicators.

The Yaounde conference would go down in history as a conferences during which the words ‘Action and Implementation’ were used very often. The Commonwealth Deputy Secretary General told us that he is in favour of more work and impact. This view was shared by many of the delegates and ministers we spoke with, who underlined some of the challenges discussed above while pledging their support to put into action the recommendations and implement the decisions taken.

It is true this is not the first set of recommendations from a meeting about youth affairs, but what makes those of the AR-CYMM different?  Youth Ministers and representatives told us these are critical times in history, with a generation of young people who have no time to waste. The patience of young people is gradually running out and as such both parties must act fast. Two words might just feature when Youth Ministers next meet: ‘Results and Reports’. Indeed the real work starts now.

The Cameroon Government must be congratulated for hosting the AR-CYMM. The task was not easy but Cameroon did its best to ensure that the conference went smoothly. Every international conference comes with its own difficulties but Cameroon’s Minister of Youth Affairs and Civic Education, Dr. Bidoung Mkpatt, and his dedicated team especially Mrs. Ngeh Rekel, Mr. Emmanuel Sanyi and our own Karen Williams worked extremely hard to ensure that the AR-CYMM was indeed a success story. They deserve a special vote of thanks.

Yaounde for four days was the center of the Commonwealth as African Region Youth Ministers met to discuss about young people building a stable and sustainable future. They have heard what the young people have to say and they have told the young people what they expect from them. It is now time for action and implementation in order to have positive results.

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About me:

Hello everyone this is your friend Akouyu Alphonse from Bamenda located in the North West Region of Cameroon. I’m currently in my last year in the Catholic University of Cameroon Bamenda studying Banking and Finance. I will be completing my studies in June of 2014 with the hope of becoming a Business/International Relations expert.

My areas of interest are serving as Journalist especially on Sports (football) and societal issues aimed at inspiring people to believe in themselves and volunteerism.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit:
http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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