Youth and Local Development: Marc Olivier ENOH TONYE – Chairman of the organizing committee of the ‘SHAPING CAMEROON CONFERENCE’ speaks about the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ and how Cameroon can benefit from it.
On the 29th of June, the Global Shapers Community – Yaoundé Hub organised the first edition of Shaping Cameroon, a conference which seeks to promote collaboration between stakeholders on different critical issues facing Cameroon today.
Today, Cameroon is faced with numerous challenges in various fields of activity which include but are not limited to economic policy, public-private partnerships, entrepreneurship and technological advances which government alone, despite their efforts, cannot solve all by themselves. The scope and dynamic of these challenges require constant long term strategic dialogue between major segments of society which will help the community gear up in a consensual and concerted manner for the countless external challenges especially with regards to globalisation.
With this in mind and in line with the values of the Global Shapers Community, that is to improve on the state of the local community, the Global Shapers Yaoundé Hub decided to organise the first edition of the ‘Shaping Cameroon Conference’ – a platform for exchange and a think tank which set the stage for collaboration between the public, private, civil society and university dons on ways Cameroon could leverage on innovations in technology ushered in by the Fourth Industrial Revolution in a way that increases prosperity, standards of living and inclusive growth for all Cameroonians. The agenda laid emphasis on the potential disruptive and transformative power of technology in many key sectors such as finance, health, culture, entertainment, policies, just to name these. The objective, at the end of this meeting, was to produce a strategic and cross-disciplinary document with a multi-sectoral approach which will be forwarded to the actors and decision makers of the public and private sectors. There would be follow-ups with various institutions concerned to ensure a proper implementation of the recommendations.
The first edition of ‘Shaping Cameroon’ under the theme: Emerging through Values in the Era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution took place on the 29th of June 2018 at Djeuga Palace Hotel in Yaoundé.
Marc Olivier Enoh tells us more about the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ and its impact on the Cameroonian socio-economic landscape.
Cameroon Achievers Magazine (CAM): Greetings. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Marc Olivier Enoh: Thank you for the opportunity you give me to throw light on a number of key issues relating to the Cameroonian economy and society at large!
My name is Marc Olivier Enoh Tonye I am a holder of two Bachelor degrees in Economics and Political Science from the University of Michigan in the United States of America where I focused on International Finance and the Political Economy. In 2011 I moved back to Cameroon, did a couple of internships then got employed by the Autonomous Sinking Fund of Cameroon (CAA) where I currently serve as Head of Risk Management.
I am passionate about technology, youth development and sports. I climbed mount Cameroon 6 times and Mount Kilimanjaro once.
CAM: When and why did you join the Global Shapers Network?
Marc: I joined the Global Shapers Community 2 years ago because I was looking for a platform where young people can come together and discuss about problems then seek tangible solutions to solve these issues. also, I believe young people should be central to solution building, policy making and lasting change especially in a country like Cameroon where about 70% of its population made of young people. Decisions made and taken by Cameroonians today will affect us in the long run that is why we young people have to be at the center of all these decisions!
As Global Shapers, we understand that there is a sense of urgency to fix the problems plaguing our societies and this problem must be fixed NOW and to quote Mme Rebecca Enonchong “Global Shapers is the most powerful youth voice in the world!”. We therefore have the responsibility to engage, transform and inform.
CAM: You are the chairman of the organizing committee of the ‘SHAPING CAMEROON CONFERENCE’ which was held under the theme: Emerging through Values in the Era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. What is the Fourth Industrial Revolution?
Marc: The fourth Industrial Revolution describes how innovations and digital technologies are being used in every single aspect of life and in every business sector – be it Production be it distribution etc. what the fourth Industrial revolution is doing is…it is not creating goods and services but it’s solving problems using technology. We know that technology can be used by people everywhere. Even people in villages with no roads have access to technology. The fourth Industrial revolution is the democratization of this technology. And harnessing the power of this to produce products that solve daily problems because as at now, few people in Cameroon harness the productive capabilities of technologies. The fourth Industrial Revolution therefore is the practice of using technology in every system of life. And we are proud that for the first time in Cameroon history, we bring together stakeholder to discuss concrete and practical ways we can use these technologies to improve ever day life in out community.
This is why we organized the ‘Shaping Cameroon Conference’ because if we do not embrace technology and apply it in our everyday lives, we might lose out on our economic strength. The rate of unemployment will surely increase, health care will obviously see a decline and much more deficiencies will be incurred and this because the whole world is functioning on different levels now. We can always have the possibility with this same technology to adapt its use in our own context, culture and environment. We do not need to imitate the west, neither do we need to copy and pase. We must embrace the fact that to be part of a global village primarily means applying technology to express ourselves or to produce goods and services that will make our society and the world better. We must use this opportunity to integrate global value chains at the highest levels; only then will real economic prosperity abound in our country.
CAM: Tell us about the Conference proper.
Marc: Essentially, the conference was held because we believe that as Global Shapers, we must be proactive. We must set the agenda and follow through with its implementation. So this conference served as a platform for us to evaluate our present situation with regards to our country’s digital performance in every sector namely – education, finance, social inclusion, governance, industrialisation, agriculture etc. The key questions asked were – where are we today? Where are we heading to? And How do we get there?!
For example, when we look at our educational system, we all know everything has become so redundant! What is taught in schools nowadays is just theory that prepares students to become unproductive employees. What happened to the importance the sciences and technology once had? What happened to studying scientific subjects that lead students to become great inventors and value creators.
Look at the finance sector, we can not tell how many start-up companies close down on a daily basis because of the lack of access to funds! There we asked ourselves how can technology solve this problem?!
Take mobile cash transfer for example. Mobile technology has facilitated cash transfers even to the most remote area of the nation. Many areas of Cameroon that do not have road access, do have access to mobile connectivity and money transfer options, making it possible to do business in a more efficient way. This just goes to highlight one of the few positive impacts of technology and its positive effects on social inclusivity. However, the negative effects of digitalization cannot be ignored…it is argued that many people are at risk of losing their jobs and with the rise of technology. Looking at the aforementioned example, many Express Union workers are on the verge of losing their jobs due to the rise of mobile money. Solutions need to be found fast enough before a large number of obsolete workers get into poverty. At the conference, we also talked about cybersecurity and how data can be protected because any digital system without data security cannot survive in the technological age
That in a nutshell this was what the conference was all about – asking these questions and proposing solutions to them.
The theme was motivated by the current and future changes orchestrated by the advent of digitalisation which is a new challenge for the world – now a global village – but even more so for Africa and particularly Cameroon with implications in the fields mentioned above. Since our countries are not technologically advanced, it is absolutely necessary to hold these discussions now in order to prepare adequately. We don’t have much leeway in terms of time, its either we act now, or forever remain at the lowest levels of global productivity.
CAM: It is always good to talk and have conversations on these issues, how does your global shapers community here in Cameroon intend to implement the resolutions attained at the conference?
Marc: The conference was very successful, the turn-out was massive (over 400 people) and many concrete solutions and recommendations were proposed! Now comes the hardest part; making sure the recommendations are channelled to the appropriate stakeholders and implemented in a timely fashion and coherent fashion. Global Shapers Yaoundé intend to follow up on these recommendations and draft quarterly reports on their implementation.