Feature: Cameroonian diaspora aim to boost youth employment through technological innovations

2021-10-13 12:55:41 GMT2021-10-13 20:55:41(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

by Arison Tamfu

YAOUNDE, Oct. 13 (Xinhua) -- Twenty-one years ago, Nestor Mbogni, 20 then, was watching a TV programme at his residence in Cameroon's capital city of Yaounde. Fascinated by technological evolution in Europe, he then decided to go to Germany to study electrical engineering and microelectronics at the Technical University of Berlin.

He was later joined there by Cezy Emvoutou, another young Cameroonian passionate about technological innovation. Emvoutou studied embedded systems engineering while in Germany.

In 2019, after years of knowledge acquisition and experience out of the country, the two joined 10 other Cameroonians and created Digital Transformation Alliance (DTA), a non-profit organization of young Cameroonian innovators and entrepreneurs living abroad, with a strong desire to build a vibrant, inclusive and sustainable digital innovation economy back home.

DTA has been training young Cameroonians since then and liaising with local tech start-ups. Mbogni said they want to show young Cameroonians that "everything is possible" with the mastery of technology.

"We want to show Cameroonians the advantages of digitalization. It can transform our industry in a bid to boost our economy. If young people manage to master the technology necessary to develop things, we are certain that Cameroon's and Africa's evolution will only be a child's play," Mbogni who is the technical director of DTA told Xinhua.

"We decided to return home because Africa will play a major role in years to come. Africa will be where the world will come looking for workforce. That is why we decided to return to inculcate young people to be interested in what is done elsewhere," said Emvoutou.

"Cameroon is today a consuming country, but we want to change that pattern to make Cameroon a transforming, production country. That is why we are bringing in our know-how. We bring in technology that already exists elsewhere and which can be done here with local means and local context," he added.

In early October, DTA organized its maiden edition of Technology Innovation Day with an aim to show Cameroon what they are capable of.

The major highlight of the event was the unveiling of a fully domestically-produced car baptized DTA 001.

It took six months to conceptualize and construct the car which is sophisticated, and mechanically and electrically modern.

"The car is adapted to Cameroonian realities and can be used in rural areas. A solar system is also embedded in the car," Emvoutou told Xinhua while presenting the car. "(This shows that) Cameroon is already capable of producing its own vehicles."

DTA hopes to multiply production and even export to neighbouring countries.

When the right idea with the right backing meets a hungry market, a start-up can grow fast, said Thierry Kamnang, CEO of InnoTechLab, one of the partners of DTA.

"(Through the Technology Innovation Day) we wanted to show industries that we have young people who possess the know-how, we have the necessary competence to modernize our industries and to transform the industries from local stage to international stage," Kamnang told Xinhua on phone.

Cameroonian government hopes such initiatives could lure more youth to technological innovation as the Central African nation wakes up to the opportunities of technology in the midst of rising unemployment.

"Any development undoubtedly relies on human empowerment, job and wealth creation," said Issa Tchiroma Bakary, Cameroon's Minister of Employment and Vocational Training. He led a delegation of five senior government officials to witness the innovations exhibited at the Technology Innovation Day event.

For the government, youth employment is a national priority and Cameroonians living abroad need to collaborate and transfer skills and knowledge to local youth excelling in the same domain, he said. Enditem