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Cameroun Actuel

Feature: Experience with Chinese firms improving skills of young Cameroonians

A Cameroonian worker operates at the construction site of phase II project of the Kribi Deep Seaport in Kribi, Cameroon, April 22, 2024. Thousands of Cameroonians are employed by Chinese firms, who train them on the job or through formal programs. In addition to creating jobs for locals, Chinese firms are helping Cameroonian youth upgrade their skills and better contribute to the country's industrialization. (Photo by Kepseu/Xinhua)

The sun overhead was shining brightly in Cameroon’s southern town of Kribi.

Chinese and Cameroonians worked side by side in complete harmony at a vast construction site at Kribi Deep Seaport, where China Harbor Engineering Company Ltd (CHEC) is building phase II of the port.

The CHEC routinely pairs Cameroonian crew with experienced Chinese colleagues, who assist them in performing their tasks until they are able to continue unaided.

Eric Defo Fotso and Larissa Ekale Koule, Cameroonian workers at the CHEC, told Xinhua that such a working environment has contributed significantly to the knowledge transfer and skills development of local employees.

« I have learned a lot when it comes to managerial duties and how to oversee activities on the site. It is a real honor for me to work on such a project for my country and also for the CHEC, » said 28-year-old Koule, whose main task is to ensure that all workers on the site are in good health and no one suffers from job-related injuries.

Fotso, 34, coordinates projects at the site.

« The first thing I learned is how to work in a multicultural environment. Given that the project follows Chinese standards, there is first the understanding and application according to Chinese standards, » he said.

Jonas Hadomaha, 31, now works at a sophisticated tollgate of the Kribi-Lolabe highway, also part of the project. He joined the CHEC as a translator but gained knowledge and skills thanks to collaboration with Chinese colleagues.

« This is my first time to work with a company that manages a highway, and I have learned a lot about the functioning of a highway, » he said.

Like Hadomaha, Fotso and Koule, thousands of Cameroonians are employed by Chinese firms, who train them on the job or through formal programs.

In addition to creating jobs for locals, Chinese firms are helping Cameroonian youth upgrade their skills and better contribute to the country’s industrialization.

Jules Elanga was among the first to join engineers of Chinese construction company CGCOC Group when they arrived in Cameroon’s West Region in 2014 to build a water treatment plant and related facilities that would supply 10,000 cubic meters of water a day to Bafoussam, the region’s capital city. It was part of a project to provide water to nine cities in Cameroon.

Elanga spent over a year working side by side with Chinese engineers.

« Technology transfer was very well done, especially in terms of management of electro-mechanical equipment, workshop management and other devices, » said Elanga, who now heads the maintenance department of state-run Cameroon Water Utilities Corporation (CAMWATER) in the region.

« Since the transfer (of technology, skills) three to four years ago, the company now functions without the assistance of the Chinese, » he said. « The upkeep, the maintenance of equipment is done by us. This is thanks to the Chinese. »

Martin Donkeng, who heads the CAMWATER production department in the region, said: « Today, our production capacity has increased by 30 percent. »

In Kouekong, about 15 kilometers north of Bafoussam, there is a multipurpose stadium built by China Machinery Engineering Corporation.

Eric Sama Ndoh and Ndjinjou Abdelkadher, who have been working at the stadium since 2014, said the company’s systems have been created in a way that gives workers an opportunity to experience various areas of the project.

« There has been a lot of skills transfer. Many people were unskilled laborers when they joined, but now they are skilled workers, » Ndoh said. « This is good for them and good for the country. »

Abdelkadher said he stayed with the company and learned a lot there. « It’s good collaboration. It’s win-win. »

by Arison Tamfu, Wang Ze / Xinhua

Cameroonians, Cameroun Actuel
Cameroonian and Chinese technicians talk in a machine room at a drinking water treatment plant in Bafoussam, Cameroon, Feb. 20, 2024. Thousands of Cameroonians are employed by Chinese firms, who train them on the job or through formal programs. In addition to creating jobs for locals, Chinese firms are helping Cameroonian youth upgrade their skills and better contribute to the country’s industrialization. (Photo by Kepseu/Xinhua)
Cameroonians, Cameroun Actuel
Cameroonian and Chinese talk in an operating system room at a drinking water treatment plant in Bafoussam, Cameroon, Feb. 20, 2024. Thousands of Cameroonians are employed by Chinese firms, who train them on the job or through formal programs. In addition to creating jobs for locals, Chinese firms are helping Cameroonian youth upgrade their skills and better contribute to the country’s industrialization. (Photo by Kepseu/Xinhua)

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