African migrations: opportunity not crisis
The 2019 Ibrahim Governance Weekend (IGW) highlighted an urgent need for robust data and informed policy to manage mobility and spur economic development.
Debating and discussing African migrations, youth and jobs, the IGW, held in Abidjan from 5-7 April, heard that the global view of African migrations urgently needs to be reset since distorted data leads to inadequate policies. African migrations present an opportunity for both the continent and the world, and yet today this topic triggers an emotional reaction and is generally misunderstood.
Driven by the need for jobs and economic opportunity, most African migrations begin and end on the continent. Their arrival in host countries is welcomed, with many Africans saying they would like more migrants in their country.
Mo Ibrahim said:
The 2019 Ibrahim Governance Weekend opened with a Leadership Ceremony, celebrating progress in African leadership and governance. The evening featured a special tribute to Kofi Annan, reflecting on the legacy he left and the inspiration he continues to be. Thoughts and memories were shared by, among others: Mo Ibrahim; Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations; Kojo Annan; Mark Malloch-Brown, former United Nations Deputy Secretary-General; and Bono, founder of ONE.
Addressing over 1,200 guests, H.E. President Alassane Ouattara said:
On the following day, the Ibrahim Forum focussed on the Foundation’s latest report: Africa’s Youth: Jobs or Migration? In recognition of the importance of young people to Africa’s development, this year the Foundation welcomed back the Now Generation Forum, a meeting of young leaders from 35 countries whose recommendations fed into the discussion.
Session 1: Setting the picture right on African migrations
This session 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.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former President of Liberia, 2017 Ibrahim Laureate and Chairperson of the High-Level Panel on International Migration in Africa, said:
Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, highlighted how a lack of economic opportunity is driving Africans to leave their home countries:
Session 2: The African youth bulge confronted by jobless growth
Here panellists discussed the current and future challenges of the African job market, including the unexploited potential of agriculture and the changes expected from the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Abdourahmane Cissé, Minister of Petroleum, Energy and Renewable Energy of Côte d’Ivoire, outlined his country’s efforts to create economic opportunities for its youth.
Hailemariam Desalegn Boshe, former Prime Minister of Ethiopia, said:
Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group, highlighted the importance of involving more young Africans in agriculture:
Natasha Kimani, Head of Programmes at Well Told Story and a member of the Now Generation Forum, argued for a fresh perspective.
Session 3: The way forward: bolstering mobility, updating skills, sharing responsibilities
Panellists explored options to strengthen the capacity of the continent to make the most of its greatest resource, its human capital, and ensure no one if left behind.
Arancha González, Executive Director of the International Trade Centre, said:
Festus Mogae, former President of Botswana and 2008 Ibrahim Laureate, stressed the importance of responsible leadership in managing migration:
Closing the session, Oumar Seydi, Africa Director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, highlighted the challenge of population growth.
The sessions were punctuated by engaging one-on-one conversations between Mo and Amina J. Mohammed; Aliko Dangote, President and Chief Executive of Dangote Group; and H.E. President Alassane Ouattara.
The weekend wrapped up with a star-studded music concert at the Palais de la Culture featuring some of Côte d’Ivoire’s and Africa’s biggest stars, including: Fally Ipupa, Youssou NDour, Serge Beynaud and Safarel Obiang. Addressing the crowd of young Ivorians, Mo Ibrahim said: “You are the future”.