By Ese Awhotu
As Nigeria and other African nations move to stem migration considered as one of the major challenges currently facing the continent, adopting a strategy to achieve this has been in the front burner.
As at 2015, the number of international migrants, persons living in a country other than where they were born reached 244 million, according to UN statistics.
Going by the UN data this figure includes almost 20 million refugees.
The rise in the number of international migrants reflects the increasing importance of international migration, which has become an integral part of our economies and societies. Well-managed migration brings important benefits to countries of origin and destination, as well as to migrants and their families,” said Mr. Wu Hongbo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, the importance of international migration.
The new UN dataset, “Trends in International Migrant Stock: The 2015 Revision,” shows that the number of international migrants has grown faster than the world’s population. As a result, the share of migrants in the global population reached 3.3 per cent in 2015, up from 2.8 per cent in 2000. There are, however, considerable differences between large regions of the world. In Europe, Northern America and Oceania, international migrants account for at least 10 per cent of the total population. By contrast, in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean, fewer than 2 per cent of the population are international migrants.
A report by theguardian.com tagged, ‘1m African migrants may be en route to Europe, says former UK envoy’ indicated that as many as one million migrants were already on the way to Libya and Europe from countries across Africa.
The report attributed this to the former head of the British embassy in Benghazi.
The warning by Joe Walker-Cousins, head of the UK’s Libya mission between 2012 and 2014 comes as European governments struggle to find a response to the flow of migrants from the Mediterranean, and the appalling conditions in detention camps run by traffickers or the Libyan government.
The theguardian reports that more than 590 migrants have drowned on the central Mediterranean route in the first three months of this year, and the overall number reaching Italy from Libyahas risen. The International Organisation for Migration estimates 21,900 refugees reached Italy in the first three months of this year, up from 14,500 last year.
It added that a total of 181,000 refugees reached Italy from Libya last year, and with little sign of an effective unity government being formed in Libya to combat the militia-organised trafficking, mainstream European politicians are facing a massive challenge.
Last year 179,000 of the 181,000 African refugees in Italy were picked up outside Libyan coastal waters either by the Italian navy, the EU border agency Frontex or by NGOs.
In November, this year, 26 dead teenage girls bodies were recovered in the Mediterranean Sea..
The girls, aged 14-18, were believed to have been migrants from Niger and Nigeria who had embarked on the treacherous route to Europe from Libya.
To stem this trend by making the African continent more developed and food sufficient, the African Development Bank, AfDB had recently announced a US $24-billion Feed Africa Strategy to make Africa self-sufficient in food production within 10 years, drive agro-industrial development, and make the continent competitive in global food and agriculture markets.
Adesina said at a side event during the Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium in Des Moines, Iowa, USA, that AfDB’s Feed Africa strategy had launched the Transformation of the African Savannah Initiatives (TASI) to help unlock the potential of the Savannas of Africa.
According to him, the initiative would start by bringing approximately two million hectares of savannah in eight African countries – Ghana, Guinea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Uganda, Kenya, Zambia and Mozambique.
These countries come under the cultivation of maize, soybean and livestock production in optimum conditions.
“Success in this endeavour requires that we wake up the savannas of Africa.
”When we do so, African agriculture will indeed rise up from its slumber. “Let’s wake up Africa’s savannas and turn them into the new wealth zones of Africa and unleash Africa as a global powerhouse in food.
Together let arise and feed Africa.
“Valuable research must meet the needs of farmers and agri-businesses in ways that exponentially increase productivity and improve the quality of lives of our rural poor.
“Africa must learn from the experiences that have worked elsewhere while tailoring the interventions to the specific realities of Africa.
“We must ensure that small, medium scale and large-scale commercial farmers co-exist in a way that allows opportunities for all.
“Partnerships in research and development will be crucial,” Adesina said.
The AfDB has called on African countries to reconstruct rural areas from zones of economic misery to zones of economic prosperity.
The bank believes that this will in turn expand economic opportunities for African youth, leading to improvements in their lives, thereby stemming migration.
It noted in a statement on the occasion of the International Day of Migrants posted on its website, that greater economic opportunities will motivate African youth to stay on the continent and live a meaningful life.
“More than ever before, Africa must rapidly modernize its agriculture and unlock its full potential,” the AfDB said.
According to Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, the future of Africa’s youth does not lie in migration to Europe, but in a prosperous Africa.
Addressing the challenges of food insecurity is critical in addressing the more complex issues of migration and displacement. Reducing intercommunal conflict over scarce resources such as water and pasture for animals is also key.
“This requires new agricultural innovations and transforming agriculture into a sector for creating wealth. We must make agriculture a really cool choice for young people,” said Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank.
Speaking at the recently concluded 12th African Economic Conference of the African Development Bank, UNDP and UN Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa, December 4-6, 2017, Richard Joseph, a Professor of International History and Politics at Northwestern University, observed how population growth in many African countries continue to exceed income flows.
“Out-migration in such circumstances becomes an option despite the appalling risks,” he noted.
Three challenges, a lack of economic opportunities, conflict, and extreme conditions brought about by climate change are key sources of fragility that often result in the forced migration of peoples desperately seeking alternatives.
President Adesina describes these factors as a ‘triangle of disaster’ that drive conflict and extreme violence, which in turn fan economic or forced migrations as reflected in rural-urban, intra-African or international migrations, leading to significant local and international challenges.
According to the UN, the challenges and difficulties of international migration require enhanced cooperation and collective action among countries and regions.
Khaled Sherif, the Bank’s Vice-President for Regional Development, Integration and Business Delivery adds that food security and rural development is interlinked with migration, fragility and resilience, said
“We acknowledging that youth constitute the majority of African migrants, and for this reason, we have also implemented a Jobs for Youth in Africa Initiative. Our aim is to expand economic opportunities for male and female African youth, in order to create improvements in other aspects of their lives,” he said.