Migration: African governments tasked to prioritise economic growth, education
African governments have been charged to prioritise effective policy implementation in the areas of economic growth and education, as migration quest remains life goals of most young Africans in advanced countries.
During 2019 Ibrahim Governance Weekend, Mo Ibrahim, chairman of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, said while governments must remain receptive to the pursuit of better opportunities by other African in their territories, they should also ensure that their primary citizens were supported with the enabling environment to thrive.
Migration in Africa and around the world, he said, is largely based on aspiration than the common belief of desperation. “Africans leaving their home countries are looking for the chance to work and contribute to their host countries,” he said, speaking on the theme: “Setting the Picture Right on African Migrations.”
“African governments should welcome migrants while ensuring that their own citizens – our continent’s greatest asset – have opportunities they deserve.”
The Ibrahim forum brings together a coalition of African and global leaders to deliberate issues critical to the continent’s future. The theme explored African perspectives on migration, highlighting that human mobility is not a recent phenomenon but a dynamic that has contributed to progress over many centuries.
For Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former Liberia president, the rise in the population of Africans youths seeking to jet out should not only be seen in the light of the migrant crisis, but also considered in the context of knowledge and skills exchange as well as economic boost.
“There is no migrant crisis. The majority of those who cross borders do so legally, carrying with them capital, knowledge, skills and technology. They pay taxes and they form a sizeable part of the gross domestic product (GDP) of their host countries.”
On the contrary, Vera Songwe, executive secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa pictures the migration as induced by lack of economic opportunity. She explained that the conversation on migration is essentially a conversation on governance and what leaders need to do to ensure Africans do not troop outside the continent.
She noted that “80 percent of those Africans migrating say they are doing do because they don’t have jobs because our countries don’t have the right business or policy environments”.
However, in 2017, migrants represented only 3.4 percent of the global population, a marginal increase from 2.9 percent in 1990. African migrants in 2017 amounted to 2.9 percent of the continent’s population and represented around 14 percent of the global migrant population, much less than Asia and Europe’s shares, 41 percent and 24 percent in 2017.
Also in 2017, the top ten bilateral corridors in Africa accounted for less than the single bilateral corridor between Mexico and the US, Africa itself hosting a growing part of the global migrant population over 67 percent since 2000.
Akinwumi Adesina, president, African Development Bank Group, highlighted the importance of involving more young Africans in agriculture, noting the continent needs to take advantage of the great demographic asset and turn it into an economic powerhouse.