The theme selected for the 2019 Ibrahim Forum discussions is Africa’s youth: jobs or migration?

Migration, whether referring to voluntary or forced migrants, is currently triggering many emotional and political reactions, especially outside the continent. These are often based on a unilateral approach and a partial knowledge of a key dynamic that has always been part of human history. Hence the interest of an African-led, fact-based, frank and open discussion, de-linked from any partisan agenda. The debate was organised around three sessions. Each session was joined by a representative of the Now Generation Forum, held the day before – Friday, 5 April – on the same topic. This ensured that the discussion reflects the expectations and proposals of the continent’s majority: the young people.

Download the 2019 Forum Report.

Forum schedule

09:00-17:00, Saturday, 6 April 2019

Welcome: Mo Ibrahim, Chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation

Session 1: Setting the picture right on African migrations

As currently perceived or presented by many developed countries’ public opinions, media and policy-makers, migration is a ‘crisis’ threatening security and stability. In fact, migration is not a new 21st century challenge. Human mobility is and has been for centuries part of many lives, a key dynamic contributing to human progress and to most countries’ building and current wealth. This first session will present the African perspective on this key topic, and highlight the reality of African migrations, mainly taking place within the African continent, and mainly driven by the lack of local prospects. The debate will also address the specific issues of refugees and of the growing criminalisation brought upon by unmanaged and illegal migrations.

Chair: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former President of Liberia; 2017 Ibrahim Prize Laureate; Chairperson of the High-Level Panel on International Migration in Africa

Stefano Manservisi Director-General for International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO) at the European Commission
Vera Songwe Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)
Alex Soros Deputy Chair of the Open Society Foundations (OSF)
Mamadou Toure Founder, Africa 2.0 Foundation, Chairman and CEO of Ubuntu Capital
A representative of the Now Generation Forum


Mo Ibrahim in conversation with Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN)

Session 2: The African youth bulge confronted by a jobless growth

Youth is already more than the majority of Africa’s population and is expected to continue growing, making Africa the youngest continent. Whereas this growing youthful population should be a key resource, the majority of young Africans feel currently trapped in ‘waithood’, with little chance to progress, mainly due to the lack of economic opportunities. This second session will consider how the lack of prospects triggers the search for opportunities elsewhere. It will also look at the current and future challenges and opportunities of the African job market, among which the still unexploited potential of agriculture and the changes expected from the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Chair: Valerie Amos, Director of SOAS (University of London); former UK Secretary of State for International Development

Akinwumi Adesina President of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB)
Abdourahmane Cisse Minister of Petroleum, Energy, and Renewable Energy, Côte d’Ivoire
Hailemariam Desalegn Boshe former Prime Minister of Ethiopia
Roberta Gatti Chief Economist, Human Development Practice Group at The World Bank Group
A representative of the Now Generation Forum


Mo Ibrahim in conversation with Aliko Dangote, President and Chief Executive of Dangote Group, Chairman of Aliko Dangote Foundation

Session 3: The way forward: bolstering mobility, updating skills, sharing responsibilities

Acknowledging that migrations cannot be avoided but need to be better managed, this last session will consider avenues to strengthen the capacity of the continent to make the most of its greatest resource: human capital. Along with policies to update skills and equip youth for the expected job market changes, as well as to strengthen professional and geographical mobility within the continent, mitigation policies will also be key, in order to make sure that no one is left behind.

Chair: Ngaire Woods, Dean of the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University

Arancha Gonzalez Executive Director of the International Trade Centre (ITC)
Amadou Hott Vice-President of the African Development Bank Group’s Power, Energy, Climate Change and Green Growth Complex
Albert Mudenda Muchanga African Union (AU) Commissioner for Trade and Industry
Oumar Seydi Africa Director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF)
A representative of the Now Generation Forum


Mo Ibrahim in Conversation with H.E. Alassane Ouattara, President of Côte d’Ivoire