Definition of Youth

Cameroon’s national youth policy (2006) defines youth as persons between the age of 15 and 35.


Marriageable Age

  • Opposite Sex
  • Same Sex
  • Without parental consent
  • with parental consent
  • Male
  • 15
  • --
  • XX
  • Female
  • 18
  • --
  • XX

  • No data for minimum legal age for marriage with parental consent. Homosexual acts illegal. Source: UNSD, ILGA

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
Source:  Penal Code of Cameroon

Majority Age


Source: Cameroon Nationality Code (1968)

Voting Age


Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 87.12% Male (15-24) %
  • 80.45% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • --Male %
  • -- Female %
  • Year: No data.
  • Source: UNESCO

Situation of Young People

Prevalence of HIV

Male (15-24) %
Female (15-24) %

Tobacco Use

Consumed any smokeless or smoking tobacco product at least once 30 days prior to the survey.
Both sexes (13-15) %
  • 14.00% Male (13-15) %
  • 8.20% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
Cameroon has a 2006 national youth policy, but lacks instruments for its systematic implementation.

The national youth policy is anchored in both national priorities and international commitments of the Cameroonian government. The policy of 2006 prioritises national development and building a prosperous and peaceful country.   It was formulated in a consultative process involving representatives of public institutions, private organizations, civil society, UN agencies, and youth movements. The policy document outlines a participatory and multi-sectoral approach. It focuses on the education sector, the provision of nutrition and health services to young people, and seeks to respond the scarcity of employment.   As a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, Cameroon is a signatory of The Commonwealth Plan of Action for Youth Empowerment (PAYE) 2006-2015. It lists 13 action points including youth empowerment, youth governance, participation, gender equality, education, health and ICT.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
Since 2004, Cameroon has a dedicated Ministry for Youth and Sports, which is responsible for the coordination and implementation of the national youth policy.   Another relevant body is the Inter-ministerial Committee in which relevant stakeholders and youth organizations are deemed to be represented. It is tasked with ensuring implementation of programs and action plans provided for in the national youth policy, and taking into account the concerns of young people in the development and implementation of programs and action plans.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
The National Council of Youth of Cameroon (CNJC) was established to give young people a voice in the political processes of Cameroon. The first elections took place in 2009. These were open to all registered youth associations, movements and groups in Cameroon.   The CNJC is designed as an apolitical, secular, non-profit institution that serves as national forum for consultation, expression, co-ordination, dialogue and action of youth organisations. The CNJC operates under the Ministry of Youth & Sports.   At a global level, Cameroon is a member of the Commonwealth Youth Council.

Budget & Spending

What is the budget allocated to the governmental authority (ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth and/or youth programming?
No budgetary information regarding youth spending in Cameroon could be found online. According to the World Bank, Cameroon spent 16.3% of its government expenditure and 3.2% of its GDP on education provision in 2011
Total Expenditure on Education as a Percentage of Government Spending and GDP

  • % of GDP
  • % of gov. expenditure

Source: World Bank
Gaps indicate missing data from the original data source. (Accessed August 2013).

Additional Background

From Economic Notebook of Cameroon (2012) (Original in French, own translation):
In 2010, approximately 92% of young professionals were working in the informal sector.
From National Youth Policy of Cameroon (2006) (Original in French, own translation):
Young people in Cameroun face difficulties in accessing decent employment. Unemployment and underemployment levels are very high among young people. … Approximately 11% of youth aged 15 to 29 years are unemployed , particularly in urban areas. Underemployment affects approximately 94 % of young people aged 15 to 19 years and 84 % of those between 20 and 24 years.
The majority of job seekers abandon studies before completing the primary education (only 56% of the population that went to school also completed primary education). Since the advent of the economic crisis experienced by the country, the number of highly qualified young people without job prospects is of increasing concern.
In total 28.4% of adolescents [girls] aged 15 to 19 years had already had a child (22.7%) or were pregnant with their first child (5.7%). Over 40% of adolescents had already begun childbearing.
The practice of contraception is not sufficiently publicised. Among young women age ranges 15-19, 20-24 and 25-29 years, 12.2%, 17.4% and 14.9% respectively are using a modern contraceptive method. This low use of modern contraceptive methods, low access to planned parenthood, early marriage, the difference of the legal minimum age for marriage for boys and girls, precocious sexuality, lack of education in family life, unwanted pregnancies and insufficient information and education of young people explain, among other high maternal mortality.
Young people are more affected than other age groups by HIV. The rate of HIV prevalence in the age group 25-29 years is 7.8% against 5.5% in the general population. 10.3% of young women and 5.1% among young men are affected.
The situation of young people concerning participation in social life and decision-making is characterised by a low level of involvement. This can partly be explained by a lack of organization and inadequate training of young people due to an inadequate legal framework and the lack of an advisory youth council, and also by the reluctance of adults to involve young people in the decision making process. This reluctance is the consequence of generational conflict, lack of spaces for dialogue between adults and youth, and low representation of young people in decision bodies such as parliamentary assemblies, municipal bodies and the community.
The national youth council of cameroon (CNJC), which was created in 2009 as representative platform Cameroon’s youth, has been criticised by movements such as the Action for Peace and Development and Gathering of Cameroonian Youth (RJC) for not effectively representing Cameroon’s youth. It is said to be too dependent on the government and its agenda.