Defining Work and Sector Opportunities in Cameroon

There are so many different avenues for employment creation in Cameroon spread across different sectors. In the following write up, Gabriel Ashu-Arrey examines work and sector opportunities in Cameroon

In Cameroon there exist generational and conflicting discrepancies in the definition of work. It should be noted however that a whole part of the youth population have been excluded from society and denied the privileges of their deserved social status due to the misconception that “work is having a waged or salaried position.” The stakes of defining work are really high and for the most part have been influence by postcolonial remnants of an educational system with its problems. What teachers teach, what companies hire, and what youths aspire has influenced the sociology of work in Cameroon. If we must move from the current socio-economic conditions faced by Cameroonian Youths- to a more wealth creation and sustainable economy, we must redefine work. The questions posed are how can a different understanding of work influence the employment ecosystem, from educators to job trainers, to employer and youth as well?
Cameroon’s Employment Context
In recent years, Cameroon has been experiencing a shift in the concept of work which has gone from state dominance to private sector dominance and now living the new birth of an entrepreneurship culture. Though till date thousands of Youth depend on state created opportunities such as ENAM, ENS and other competitive employment based entrance exams, a significant number are now engaging with so much motivation but with equally lots of challenges into entrepreneurship and self employment ventures. The unemployment rate stands at 30% and underemployment stands at 75% (ILO, 2013 report). While the working population of Cameroon is about 12million, the public sector has employed only a little over 200,000. While the state and private sector can’t sufficiently cover the employment gap for young people, necessity has become the mother of invention. Young people in Cameroon are obviously beginning to take their destiny into their own hands by creating for themselves income generating and wealth creating activities that are addressing significant socio- economic issues in the country.
Two principal sector opportunities can be identified in the Cameroon economy;
Social entrepreneurs are extraordinary leaders and their organizations are creating innovative models to drive equilibrium and change. By disrupting the status quo, social entrepreneurs open up the space for solutions to take the opportunity to scale , and become the foundation of profound social transformation and a more peaceful and prosperous world. Social entrepreneurs both take direct action and seek to transform the existing system. They seek to go beyond better, to bring about a transformed, stable new system that is fundamentally different. The last decade has witnessed a boom in the social entrepreneurship sector in Cameroon with many working on providing key solutions to problems faced in the country with health, youth development, women and gender empowerment topping the list. As the Cameroon society moves towards emergence in 2035, it is only normal that the society encounters basic problems on the way to 2035 thereby challenging our social entrepreneurs to work hard and provide long lasting solutions to problems faced in this sector.
2) Profit Making Ventures
Young Cameroonians nowadays are setting up their own companies and producing goods and services which are consumed locally and internationally. Popularly known today as ‘Start Ups’, the country has also witnessed a boom in the creation of ‘Start Ups’ with Technology and Agriculture topping the chart. The country has also witnessed a growth in the creation of small businesses across the different regions of the country. These small businesses are found in so many different sectors and the presence of a ready market where they can sell their products makes them profitable ventures. Apart from creating self employment, start ups and small businesses are also employing other youths in Cameroon thereby reducing the level of unemployment in the country. The creation of vocational training centers where young people can learn new skills in fields such as carpentry, tailoring, mechanics etc opens a variety of opportunities for these young Cameroonians. Passion leads to innovation and within the past years, it has been a driving factor for most profit venture owners because in a bid to follow their passion, they ended up creating opportunities for themselves and for others. It’s true that capital for start ups, the business environment sustainability of some SMEs, Start Ups constitute key challenges for young entrepreneurs nowadays but everyday Cameroonian profit making ventures are making huge gains despite all these hurdles.
The future definitely looks bright work and sector opportunities in Cameroon but it’s game where players, referees, supporters, coaches and different stakeholders must play their roles for a total transformation in youth work and sector opportunities in Cameroon. It’s now common talk to hear that a Cameroonian company has won an international award and this means despite the difficulties entrepreneurs are facing, their passion is leading them to innovation. Furthermore, they are creating avenues for others to gain employment and as we towards 2035, it becomes important to create strong and healthy partnerships between the public and private sector which forms the backbone of economic growth.

By Gabriel M Ashu-Arrey
Social Entrepreneur/Researcher