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Editorial Commentary: Youth's Role in Overcoming Systemic Challenges, Redefining Cameroon's Economic Future.

By Bakah Derick 

The Youth Day is an important occasion to celebrate and recognize the invaluable contributions of young people in shaping the future of this nation. The theme for this year's celebration: Youth, import substitution, and economic patriotism for the development of Cameroon emphasizes the crucial role that the youth play in driving sustainable economic growth and prosperity.
As the future leaders and key stakeholders in Cameroon's economic development, the youth have a significant role to play in promoting import substitution and economic patriotism. Import substitution by simple understanding will refer to the strategy of producing goods domestically to replace imports, thereby reducing dependency on foreign products and stimulating domestic industries. This approach not only contributes to strengthening the local economy but also fosters self-reliance and enhances national resilience. This is a good theme no doubt but how do we get work with normalized challenges. 

In a country marred by corruption, the active involvement of the youth in promoting import substitution and economic patriotism can serve as a counterforce to corrupt practices. By fostering a culture of transparency, accountability, and ethical business conduct, young entrepreneurs and innovators can set new standards for integrity and integrity in economic activities. This can contribute to the creation of a more ethical and sustainable business environment, where the youth play a pivotal role in driving economic growth through legitimate and principled means.

For those who use Bamenda's streets regularly, you could have the feeling that the commercial motorcycle sector has become the new source of hope for the youth. You will also be embarrassed by the number of them who ride luxury cars, as for what they do, it will be a subject for another day. 

Before I forget, economic patriotism, entails a sense of loyalty and commitment to the economic well-being of one's own country. It involves making conscious choices to support local businesses, industries, and products, thereby contributing to the growth and sustainability of the domestic economy. When the youth actively engage in promoting economic patriotism, they contribute to the overall economic development of Cameroon by fostering a robust and resilient economic ecosystem.

Undoubtedly, this may not be an applicable concept here because of the potentiality of illegality in most of the activities engaged in by the young people. As the case maybe, the choices made by many young people may not be in favor of import substitution and economic patriotism. This theme presents an opportunity to address the systemic challenges of corruption, bad governance, the lack of respect for basic rights, poor healthcare, and education services which are largely responsible for the direction taken by the youth. While these issues undoubtedly pose significant obstacles to Cameroon's socio-economic progress, engaging the youth in initiatives related to import substitution and economic patriotism can serve as a catalyst for positive change and sustainable development. This is the responsibility of the youth council whose creators must give them a listening ear without restriction. 
The Youth Council no doubt is expected to pilot youth-led movements and advocacy efforts that can be instrumental in holding the government and public officials accountable for their actions. By leveraging their collective voice and influence, youth council can advocate for institutional reforms, anti-corruption measures, and policies that promote good governance and transparency. Through active civic engagement and participation, the youth can then demand accountability and work towards building a more just, transparent, and accountable society.

It is important to recognize that this theme does not exist in isolation but operates within a broader socio-political context. As such, it is important that efforts to engage the youth in initiatives related to the theme are complemented by broader systemic reforms and measures to address governance, corruption, and social injustices. Strengthening institutions, enhancing the rule of law, and promoting human rights are essential components of creating an enabling environment where the youth can effectively contribute to sustainable economic development.


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