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"Youth Ministers resolve to turn words into action"
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"Youth Ministers resolve to turn words into action"

Alphonse Akouyu

Youth Ministers propose to bring youth into an active role in development, writes Alphonse Akouyu, 20, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Cameroon as he reports on the Africa Region Commonwealth Youth Ministers meeting in Yaounde.

The words of Cameroon’s Minister of Youth Affairs and Civic Education would surely be the take-home message from the first Africa Region Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting (AR-CYMM) in Yaounde.

“If we fail to bring our young people to the table and provide them with enabling conditions to make their own contribution in achieving national and global development goals, we stand in the way of our nation’s progress and there is no way we can talk about sustainable development,” said His Excellency Dr. Bidoung Mkpatt.

The Africa Commonwealth Youth meeting opened in Yaounde in a ceremony presided over by Cameroon’s Prime Minister Philemon Yang, head of Government, who was the personal representative of Cameroon President His Excellency Paul Biya.

The program started with a welcome address from the Government Delegate to the Yaounde City Council, remarks by Mr. Kiziah Philbert, Africa Representative, Commonwealth Youth Council. Commonwealth Deputy Secretary General, His Excellency Deodat Maharaj spoke on behalf of the Commonwealth. Mr. Maharaj based his remarks on the need for economic empowerment as the solution to the problems affecting the 21st century youth. To him, ‘the stakes are high but the benefits are great’.

Prime Minister Philemon Yang on behalf of Cameroon’s Head of State welcomed the delegates to Cameroon. The Prime Minister’s speech was centered on peace, security, economic empowerment and their relationship to youths playing an active role in development. To him, a nation which abandons its young people neglects its future.

The first item on the agenda was Youths in the Post 2015 development agenda. Ministers shared national progress and impediments related to the key resolutions adopted at the 8th Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting in Papua New Guinea in 2013. Those resolutions were aimed at ensuring strong recognition of young people in the post-2015 development agenda. They resolved to take steps to integrate young people in design and implementation of national youth policy action plans and to develop and prioritise the implementation of national youth policy mainstreaming strategies.

The second agenda issue was Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship. Ministers noted the emergence of a policy guide on youth entrepreneurship, developed by the Commonwealth Secretariat in partnership with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and expressed interest in the potential for related technical assistance. They emphasized the need to prioritise the engagement of young people in agriculture and the importance of integrating entrepreneurship education and training in schools and university curricula. They also endorsed the youth call to aim for a reduction in youth employment by 10 per cent annually and agreed to ensure that bids by youth-owned enterprises are given more serious consideration in government procurement processes through the establishment of mechanisms such as quotas.

The Ministers also agreed to support the replication of the youth-led Commonwealth Asia-Alliance of Young Entrepreneurs (CAAYE) model in Africa and to facilitate easy access to finance for young people, especially those unable to afford collateral.

The last item for the day was Youth Participation and Civic Action. Ministers agreed that young people should be seen as an opportunity and resource, not as a threat. They stated that investment in youth development is critical to meaningful, constructive and inter-generational collaboration.

The closing session included a discussion on youth policy frameworks and action plans. Ministers agreed to strengthen the development of national youth polices that are inclusive and relevant to young people’s needs and capabilities, and to prioritise action and resources to ensure meaningful implementation. They resolved to strengthen efforts to monitor and evaluate youth policies and to track progress in youth development with the help of regular reporting tools such as the Commonwealth Youth Development index.

With regards to Youth Work and Professionalization, ministers reinforced commitment to youth work as an essential component of the enabling environment that underpins effective youth development. They agreed to promote the professionalization of youth work through training, support and recognition of youth workers.

The Youth Ministers meeting was followed by the official closing ceremony of the conference, presided over by Cameroon’s Prime Minister, Head of Government who was the personal representative of the President of the Republic of Cameroon. Reports were delivered by Kiziah Philbert on the youth forum and by Katherine Ellis on the ARCYMM. Cameroon’s Minister of Youth Affairs and Civic Education, who was the chairperson, gave the first of three closing remarks.  Commonwealth Deputy Secretary General His Excellency Deodat Maharaj and Cameroon’s Prime Minister His Excellency Philemon Yang also offered their remarks.

Also included in the closing ceremony was the Commonwealth Youth Workers Awards, which recognised the work done by four outstanding individuals from South Africa, Ghana, Kenya and Uganda’.

Photo: Alphonse Akouyu

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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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