Solutions to African migration are in Africa
Publish Date: Sep 10, 2015
Italian Red Cross personnel treat shipwrecked migrants as they arrive
in the Italian port of Augusta in Sicily
By Sam Akaki
So weary with disasters, tugg’d with fortune, that I would set my life
on any chance, to mend, or be rid on it,” wrote William Shakespeare in
You would be forgiven for thinking that the preeminent British poet
and dramatist was referring to the millions of unemployed or
unemployable African peoples.
Whether they are the Ugandan drug traffickers “Andrew Ham Ngobi and
Omer Ddamulira, who were executed in China in June 2014 over the
possession of cocaine worth $2.6m”, (No funds to return Ugandans
executed in China, New Vision, July 2, 2014 or whether they are the
5,000 other African men, women and children from Ethiopia, Eritrea,
Ghana, Nigeria, Mali and other African countries, who have perished in
the Mediterranean Sea over the last 12 months, they have all been
driven by dehumanising poverty to ‘set their lives on any chance, to
mend or be rid on it!’. Why?
Rather than stay at home and wait for a slow and excruciating death
from the lack of food, shelter, clean water, sanitation, healthcare
and security of body and limb; thousands of African men, women and
children are embarking on desperate journeys every day to find a
better life in, ironically, the land of our former colonisers, whom we
drove out some 60 years ago!
Although some African politicians make a virtue of blaming our former
colonial rulers for everything that is going wrong on the continent
today, we should give credit where it is due and appreciate the
commendable work, which the European Union is doing in response to the
unprecedented African migration crisis.
According to the ‘EU Agenda for Migration’, released in May 2015, the
EU is taking concerted efforts to prevent further losses of migrants’
lives at sea by releasing additional funding for joint search and
rescue operations and providing the safe and legal resettlement of
African migrants in Europe.
They are also assisting frontline EU member states to swiftly
identify, register and fingerprint arriving migrants and intensifying
efforts aimed at identifying and destroying migrant smuggling
networks, which made an estimated $100m out of people’s desperation
The actions by individual EU citizen are even more touching. While
leading a mass funeral service for 214 African migrants in Molta in
April this year, the Bishop of Gozo, Monsignor Mario Grech, said: “We
know not their names, their lives; we just know that they were
escaping from a desperate situation trying to find freedom and a
better life. We call them the unidentified.
Yet we mourn them, we weep their loss, we want to give them our last
respects. Why? Because deep inside, irrespective of our creed,
culture, nationality, race, we know that they are our fellow human
In Calais, or the “Jungle” in France, where Ethiopian and Eritrean
migrants have built a cardboard but vibrant Orthodox Christian Church,
Ms Jasmine O’Hara, a member of the Worldwide Tribe, says “we’re just
normal people from Kent who want to help our fellow human beings with
their basic needs”.
‘Leeds No Borders’, a groups that support migrants has collected and
send to Calais thousands of camping equipment abandoned by 80,000
people, who attended this year’s summer festival near Leeds.
A consultant physician at Cambridge University Hospital, Dr. Zoe Fritz
is mobilising a country-wide effort by individuals offering their
spare rooms to accommodate destitute African migrants.
The British are not alone. Ms Maya Conforti of L’Auberge Des Migrants
and Sandrine Verdelhan of Secours Caholique – Caritas France are
working 24/7 because “the living conditions for migrants and the
growth of migrants are beyond pitiful”. But even with the best will in
the world, the EU will not be able to rescue and accommodate the
millions of African migrants who will want to migrate to Europe in the
coming months and decades.
According to the 2015 UN World Population Prospects, released in July,
Africa’s rapidly growing population is expected to account for more
than half, or 4.6 billion of the world’s population of 9.2 billion by
2050, only 35 years away.
“The concentration of population growth in the poorest countries will
make it more difficult to eradicate poverty and inequality, combat
hunger and malnutrition and expand educational enrolment and health
systems; all of which are crucial to the success of the new
sustainable development agenda.” http://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/
The extra 3.6 billion people in Africa by 2050 will add combustion
fuel to the current intra-state and inter-state disputes over the
finite basic resources, especially land and water; thus driving even
more Africans migrants towards Europe.
The African Union and its member states should take early preventative
measures. First, they should recognise that the wealth and peace that
are attracting African migrants to Europe did not appear by accident.
It was due to sheer hard work, personal and collective sacrifices and,
above all, the rule of law, which protects everyone without fear or
They should create an economic and social climate where African will
live and thrive at home. They need to actively take steps to bring
population to a sustainable level and promote the rule of law, which
will protect not only their people, but also foreign investors, who
have the means and the capacity to create jobs.
The European Union should play and investment-oriented supporting
role. Instead of concentrating on giving aid, which is perpetuating a
dependency culture in the continent, they should use their money,
experience and technological skills to assist Africa to trade itself
out of poverty.
It is also in the EU’s best interest to promote trade in Africa.
According to the 2001 Royal Institute of International Affairs
(Chatham House) report, ‘Our Common Strategic Interests: Africa’s Role
in the Post-G8 World’, “many countries, particularly those (like the
EU) that have framed their relations with Africa largely in
humanitarian terms, will require an uncomfortable shift in public and
Without this shift, many of Africa’s traditional partners, especially
in Europe and North America, will lose global influence and trade
advantages to the emerging powers in
But the EU’s priority in Africa should be investment in hydro, wind,
solar and nuclear power generation and distribution to run industries
and support schools plus hospitals. Uganda and the rest of African
countries are still in darkness, literally; hence the mass migration
to the bright lights of Europe.
For example, the outcome of our presidential election next year will
either encourage Ugandan youths to stay at home or drive them to take
desperate drug-trafficking or migration journeys.
That is why we are saying the only lasting solutions to African
migration are in Uganda and across Africa. Is anyone in government or
The writer is the former FDC international envoy to the UK and
European Union, also former parliamentary candidate in the UK, now
executive director — Africa-European relations
Received on Sat Sep 12 2015 - 12:56:44 EDT