Yaounde, 10 February 2024

My Dear Young Compatriots,
I always have the same pleasure and the same
emotion in addressing you, as is the tradition, on the eve
of Youth Day celebration.
It has always been a great and special opportunity
for me, an ideal moment for you and me to reflect on
issues that are at the centre of your concerns and your
As with other youths the world over, the issues
concern your education, your integration into the job
market, your participation in nation building and, simply
put, your future.
I can assure you that these issues have always been
and will continue to be at the core of my priorities and,
hence, of Government action.
My Dear Young Compatriots,
Before addressing these structural issues, I would
like to mention two recent events which, I am aware, are
particularly dear to your hearts.
Like me, you were certainly disappointed by the
early elimination of our Indomitable Lions from the
ongoing Africa Cup Nations in Côte d’Ivoire.
I congratulate you for demonstrating dignity in
defeat as you have done in victory so many times before.
Rest assured that we will keep up the fight and that
we will win again. After all, as you so aptly put it using a
term the secret of which you alone have, we are the
However, victory does not happen by chance. It
requires not only talent, but also courage, discipline,
organization and hard work.
That is definitely the secret of our compatriot,
Francis Ngannou, who marvelled the entire world in his
maiden boxing fight.
I am aware of the importance of football to you. In
our difficult context, the State is making enormous
financial sacrifices in that connection, and is therefore
entitled to require better organization and results.
We will see to it. The Government and particularly
the Ministry in charge of sports have received clear
instructions in that regard.
My Dear Young Compatriots,
I am aware that, like your parents, you are
concerned about the recent hike in fuel pump prices. You
are also worried about the impact that it could have on
your living conditions.
I wish to assure you that the requisite efforts have
been made to maintain the adjustment at a reasonable
level. I have also instructed the freezing of the prices of
cooking gas and kerosene in order to preserve household
purchasing power.
You should know that this operation was inevitable,
owing to the current budget constraints and our desire to
avert shortages.
Apart from the various support measures decided by
me, constructive discussions are ongoing between the
Government and its social partners. They seek to
preserve the viability of the activities of the relevant
sectors and the interests of users and consumers.
My Dear Young Compatriots,
For many years now, the bulk of the State budget
has been devoted to the education sector. This reflects
the importance the authorities attach to your education.
Over the years, and at all levels of our educational
system, new infrastructures have been built and more
teachers trained and deployed.
Curricula are regularly reviewed in order to evermore
progress in professionalizing teaching, our goal being to
improve education-job matching.
In this connection, I have instructed the Government
to set up a competitive skills development mechanism.
Such is the idea behind the Secondary Education and
Skills Development Support Project for Growth and
It helps to finance initial and continuing worker
training. It also seeks to build the capacity of
stakeholders in the social economy and the informal
sector where many young people operate.
I have also prescribed the reduction of school fees in
vocational training centres of excellence from 500
thousand CFA francs to 50 thousand CFA francs to enable
the greatest number of youths to access quality training.
Besides the commissioning of the new National
Trainer Training and Programmes Development Centre, I
am pleased to mention the commissioning of the Maroua,
Ngaoundere, Yaounde, Douala, Bamenda and Bafoussam
Vocational Information and Counselling Centres, from
where youths can now obtain information on various
opportunities in the job market.
My Dear Young Compatriots,
In addition to recruiting a significant number of
youths in the Public Service each year, the State is
increasing initiatives to boost job creation in the private
sector, and to encourage self-employment.
This cannot be overemphasized. Self-employment is
one of the best ways to achieve socio-professional
integration, as neither the State nor the private sector
can absorb the growing number of young people entering
the labour market each year.
This approach is consistent with the Special Three-
Year Youth Plan launched in 2016. It has already funded
thousands of youth-focused projects.
Similarly, the Entrepreneurship Promotion
Programme contributed to the establishment of over 12
000 new businesses in 2023, creating nearly 22 000
direct jobs.
While these strides are definitely encouraging, I am
fully aware that they remain inadequate considering the
number of young job-seekers.
That is why I urge you to seize the opportunities
offered by the implementation of the Three-Year
Integrated Import Substitution Plan 2024-2026 to
engage in productive activities. It will enable you not only
to make yourselves useful to your country, but also to
find the wherewithal to fend for yourselves.
My Dear Young Compatriots,
I would like to take this opportunity to hail the work
of the various bodies set up to facilitate the social
integration of youths.
Such is the case of the National Youth Council which
currently comprises 14 000 youth organizations and
decentralized bodies.
The same is true of municipal and regional youth
councils. They have enabled nearly 8 000 youths to
voluntarily commit to learning how to manage public
affairs and development projects in their communities.
My Dear Young Compatriots,
Addressing the concerns of the youths has remained
at the heart of my political commitment. Under my
stewardship, the Government has worked relentlessly
and resolutely towards this goal.
However, I believe that our youths will be unable to
leverage the opportunities available to them unless they
fully embrace the civic and moral values that are the
foundation of social life.
These include hard work, integrity, patriotism,
tolerance, civic mindedness, compliance with the law and
respect of the common good.
Today, we are all witnesses of the gradual
dissolution of these values in our society and,
unfortunately, among the youths as well.
Moral decay, irresponsible and deviant behaviour,
violence, indiscipline, alcohol and drug abuse and
intolerance are on the rise in our society. Schools are no
exception. Social media, now the preferred means of
expression for young people, is being abused and is
becoming the stage for various forms of extremism.
Once again, I urge you to be fully aware of this
situation. I also encourage parents and more generally all
educators to fully assume their responsibility.
Although attitudes and behaviours are changing
inexorably, they should not relent in their efforts to
continue educating and mentoring our youths. They
should continue to instil in them values that will enable
them to overcome life’s challenges.
My Dear Young Compatriots,
The growing desire of a fringe of our youths to
emigrate to other climes is increasingly a cause for
concern, especially when it becomes an obsession and
even affects people who are well integrated into their
local communities.
Obviously, our country, like many others around the
world, is facing difficulties. However, leaving is not
always the solution.
Emigrate? Yes, but not at all costs. Moreover, you
should know that while you yearn to leave, many
foreigners are trying to settle in Cameroon, thereby
confirming that ours is a hospitable country and a land of
Having said this, I have not lost sight of your
legitimate aspirations. Not to mention the anxieties of all
youths of your generation, wherever they are.
However, it is my responsibility to remind you, year
in year out, of the illusions and perils of emigration at all
Most importantly, my dear young compatriots,
remember that you are Cameroon's present and future.
It is your lofty task to persevere, with faith and
determination, in the exalting task of building this strong
and prosperous nation. You know you can always count
on me.
I also know that I can count on you, as you have
proven in the past and are proving now. I know that you
will do so in the future.
Your vitality, your ingenuity and your maturity
enable you to make a valuable contribution to efforts
towards securing a bright future for our country.
Happy Youth Day to you all.
Thank you.