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Time for an African vision, African action on migration

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.

Our country is proud to host the Ibrahim Governance Weekend (5-7 April, 2019), which takes African migrations as its central theme.

Côte d’Ivoire is a transit country for African migrants travelling to Europe; and that is the primary prism through which our policies and actions on migration are defined.

But a key fact is missed: 70% of sub-Saharan African migrants leaving their home countries settle in another country on the continent – most in neighbouring countries. In fact, Côte d’Ivoire is the second main host country for African migrants on the continent. Indeed, a quarter of the population in my country is from migrant origin.​

Yet the experience of the majority of our migrants is not adequately reflected, either in international media or in policy responses. That must change. If most sub-Saharan African migrants settle here in Africa, it is up to Africa’s leaders and Africa’s people to take the lead on the response.

Migration has always been a key dynamic of human history, starting in fact on this very continent. It benefits both sending and receiving countries – those benefits need restating.

In Côte d’Ivoire, migrants contribute significantly to the GDP. But it is incumbent on African leaders to better manage migration flows by taking ownership of policy and enforcement, nationally and regionally.

Adequate migration management requires good governance as defined by the Ibrahim Index of African Governance, and demonstrable positive results for citizens from policy implementation.

And here, it is important to note that the key driver of African migrations is the need for prospects for our young people, all over the continent.

According to recent studies by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, economic growth in Africa has been stronger than average, but still lagging behind demographic growth. Four out of five African migrants, mostly young and well-educated, leave their home country to find a job.

In sub-Saharan Africa, while 18 million new jobs would be needed annually to absorb new entrants into the labour market by 2030, only three million are currently being created.

This is our key challenge, along with the need to ensure that our young people are adequately trained and educated to answer current and future requisites of potential employers, in Africa and elsewhere.

Managed right, African migration can fill skills gaps, boost trade and investment, and promote continent-wide prosperity.

It is time to recognise migration as an expression of the hopes and ambitions of our young people. This is why I warmly welcome the beginning of a truly African-led conversation on migration with the view to defining an African vision and African led responses.

The Foundation will hold its flagship annual event, the Ibrahim Governance Weekend (IGW) from 5-7 April 2019, in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

Follow the discussions on our social channels by using #MIFAbidjan, #AfricanMigrations or following us via the links at the top of this page.