Migration crisis in Africa; challenges, issues and perspectives

This contribution is a synthesis of my intervention following the invitation of the organizers of the provisional programme of the 2nd edition of the International Conference of African Organisations and all members of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), that is held at the ‘Centre International de Conférences Abdelatif Rahal’, Algiers on 19 to 21 November 2018, bringing together several African organizations and personalities.  It will be concerning all migratory flows; responsibility of which being shared between the leaders of the north (recent flows into the USA) and between Europeans and Africains.

Africa a continent with significant potential

Some countries including Nigeria, Gabon, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Algeria, Libya specialize in oil, gas and raw materials and having experienced high demand and high prices in the world markets allowing them relative financial ease.  Conversely, countries such as Benin, Malawi, Mauritius, Swaziland, Ethiopia, Togo, Mali, which are penalized in products that often experience deterioration in terms of trade, misery, famine and often internal conflicts and where the military expenditure budget in Africa is beyond human understanding to the detriment of the allocation of resources for development purposes.

The ten richest African countries in decreasing order are for the current GDP in 2017:

  • Nigeria with $581 billion,
  • South Africa with $276 billion,
  • Egypt with $264 billion,
  • Algeria with $170 billion,
  • Sudan with $124 billion,
  • Morocco with $121 billion,
  • Angola with $104 billion,
  • Ethiopia with $93 billion,
  • Kenya with $77 billion and
  • Tanzania with $52 billion.

On the other hand, the poorest countries are in decreasing order:

  • Burundi with a GDP per capita at $285,
  • Malawi with a GDP per capita of about $300,
  • Niger with a GDP per capita of about $364,
  • Mozambique with a GDP per capita of $382,
  • The Central African Republic, GDP per capita slightly higher than $382,
  • Madagascar, GDP per capita is about $401,
  • Somalia with a GDP per capita about $434,
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo with a GDP of about $444 per capita,
  • Liberia, with per capita GDP at about $455 and
  • Gambia with a GDP per capita at slightly higher than $473.

Security and stability of States must be based on democratic values

However, beware, we must be wary of the global GDP that veils the interprofessional (concentration of income) and interregional disparities, as for any comparisons only similar methods of calculation should be used. An example in 2014, The African continent was learning with amazement that, following a statistical review, Nigeria became the first African economy (ahead of South Africa) with a revalued GDP of $510 billion in 2013, compared to $262 billion in 2012. The GDP of South Africa was about $384 billion that same year. The magnitude of this re-evaluation of Nigeria’s GDP Following a statistical review is not an isolated case in Africa. However, these indicators are not enough to understand the situation in Africa. Also, in order to analyse blockages in Africa, the economic factors of political factors cannot be isolated. The joint African Development Bank – Global Financial Integrity (ADB – GFI) report highlights the fact that Africa has suffered from net outflows of the order and that the flight of resources out of Africa over the last thirty years – the equivalent of Africa’s current GDP – is curbing the launch of the continent. Thus, African leaders bear a heavy responsibility to their people and must promote the rule of law, good governance, therefore, the fight against corruption and tribal mentalities, the protection of human rights and the commitment resolutely in the overall reform, thus the democratisation of their society considering cultural anthropology avoiding the unconnected patterns of social realities. So is essential raises the problem of the security and stability of States which must be based on democratic values. In the region, we have seen profound changes in the Saharan geopolitics after the collapse of the Libyan regime, with consequences for the region. Also, the importance of the weight of the informal in Africa produces crippling bureaucracy, promotes corruption, varying by country, but generally exceeding 50% to 60% of the economic surface. For some countries, this sphere employs more than 70% of the workforce. According to the International Labor Office (ILO), this sector provides 72% of jobs in sub-Saharan Africa, of which 93% of new jobs are created, compared with the formal sector, which employs only about 10% of jobs on the continent. In the Maghreb per our study carried out for the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI), Paris – December 2013, the informal sphere in the Maghreb, it exceeds 50% of the economic area and employs more than 30% of the working population.  The gap between the rich and the poor is increasing with the income gap reinforcing the inequities in wealth, education, health and social mobility.  A Large and young population is not a handicap for a country, provided that this population is active and that it works in the formal sector so that its work can benefit the dependent population, the very young and the very old.  Sadly though, 75% of the sub-Saharan economy is informal, and the education sectors in these countries are now affected, and the young people who come out poorly trained.

Globalisation and migratory flows

Immigration is now the entry, in each country or geographical area, of foreign persons who come for an extended stay or to settle there. The word immigration comes from the Latin in-Migrate meaning “to enter a place”.  On the margins of this phenomenon is the dual nationality and nomadism, the notion of immigrant is based on the declarations of the place of birth and nationality.

The emigrant is the person who left his place in a country for another place in another, in order to settle there temporarily or permanently. A human migration being a displacement of individuals is probably as old a phenomenon as humankind.  It is increasing in numbers by 2% per annum and measures stocks that include voluntary migration and forced migration. Internal migration to countries is also on the increase, but it is more about population displacement. Statistics show that huge migratory waves have recently declined, in favour of a trend towards immigration more related to brain drain and skills from developing countries, to the detriment of the latter. The characteristics of the current African migratory phenomenon are the diversification of the countries of provenance and destination, as well as the forms are taken by migration. It is estimated that the return of capital or remittances to the countries of origin from the host countries is at least equal if it is not much higher than the amount of financial assistance provided by the so-called “rich” countries to the poorer countries.  If today most migrants move through regular channels, the migratory phenomenon is marked by a rise in the power of forced migration, mainly caused by conflicts and climate change. According to the most optimistic predictions, emanating from many institutions of the United Nations in charge of migration issues, by 2050, the number of displaced persons could jump to a minimum of 6 million/year.  The cause being climatic disturbances, extreme weather phenomena, declining water supplies, desertification, rising sea level and degradation of farmland.  According to international experts, it can also have several causes:

  • Economic: The search for a job, greater prosperity, better working conditions. This is the primary cause of current emigration;
  • Politics: The escape of an oppressive regime;
  • Religious: The hope of a more tolerant land of welcome;
  • Climate change: The taste for a different weather environment (generally milder, warmer and sunnier) and,
  • Fiscal: The will to be in a more favourable legal and financial context. This phenomenon plays particularly for the highest strata of society and in favour of tax havens.

In the era of globalisation where migratory flows are a concrete reality, migration has been globalised, with the same outcome of urbanisation and metropolisation of the world, demographic pressure, unemployment, information, and transnationalisation of migratory networks. The categories of migrants and countries have become more complex, with the globalisation of migration being accompanied by regionalisation of migratory flows. On a global scale, migration is geographically organised where complementarities are built between departure and reception areas. These correspond to geographical proximity, historical, linguistic and cultural links, transnational networks built by migrants, and smugglers (a form of slavery) that form a formal or informal space of movement, accompanied or not by institutional facilities of passage. Migrations have more than tripled since the mid-years 1970: 77 million in 1975, 120 million in 1999, 150 million in early 2000, near 300 million in 2017. This translates the mobility factors for different reasons.  Gaps between levels of human development, political and environmental crises, producers of refugees and displaced persons, reduced transport costs, a generalisation of passport issuance, the role of the media, awareness that one can change the course of his life through international migration.

Global warming, whose responsibility lies mainly with the rich countries and some emerging countries, that could strike the brunt of Africa within 2025/2030/2040, will accentuate the exodus of its populations. These different factors accentuate the bi-polarisation of three worlds, the rich countries, the emerging countries, and the developing countries pushing them to this exodus.

The demographers consider that migration will be an essential adjustment variable by 2050, due to which 2 or 3 billion of additional individuals are expected on the planet, while the effects of climate change will probably be if not already felt and that some areas will no longer be able to feed any additional populations

Dr Abderrahmane MEBTOUL, ademmebtoul@gmail.com