Silencing guns and creating a peaceful continent has been identified as a short-term solution to addressing migration crisis on the African continent.
However, the African Union commissioner for Social Affairs, Dr Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko, also underscores that people flee Africa to Europe (among other destinations) to pursue economic opportunities, hence closing economic loopholes will in the long-run address the migration issue.
Kaloko made the remarks on Friday during a news conference convened to brief journalists about different socio-economic issues facing Africa, at the ongoing 27th African Union Summit in Kigali.
Kaloko emphasised that once African countries concentrate on establishing strong economies—with comprehensive education facilities, vast employment opportunities, and well-functioning leadership institutions—Africans would feel comfortable staying on their continent.
“If we make this continent suitable for everybody, may be the number of people moving across Mediterranean Sea to Europe might decrease. This means; diversifying our economy, industrialisation, increasing productivity and jobs, good health services, good education and good infrastructure on the continent. These are long-term solutions to migration,” said Kaloko
He added, “For now, there is probably nothing much we can do for such a person (who wants to migrate). Probably they want a job and you can’t provide the job. We need to find advantages to keep this person,” he said.
He also noted that, much as the political instabilities might be linked with to current African exodus, it is the small part of a bigger picture.
“People want to make us believe that people are moving away because of poor governance, wars, political reasons. But when it comes down to grassroots, most of the people move away from this continent for economic reasons.”
According to United Nations, so far the Italian coast guard has rescued more than 30,00 people from the Mediterranean Sea. In 2015, over 1 million people crossed the sea to Europe—which is much larger than the number in the previous years.
Carlos Lopes, the UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of Economic Commission for Africa noted that, of the documented immigrants who recently crossed to Europe, about 1 per cent of them are from Africa.
Currently 250 million people live outside their countries, UN says. Africans constitute 8.5 per cent of this number.
“The continent has the highest intra-continent migration levels in the entire world,” Lopes said this week.
Kalolo said that Africa needs to “fix” economic reasons, to address the migration issue. “Some of these other factors (political issues) are short term. But the long term factors (economic factors) are the root cause, of migrations. You can have political problems here, but if you are economically sound, then the cause for the main problem is covered.”
Call to end the “short-term” cause urgently
Kaloko, also acknowledged that African leaders need to “silence guns” as the short term avenue to addressing migration problem, for Africa’s social- economic development.
“Because whenever there are political problems and wars, the economy doesn’t do well. So the two issues are linked. We need to find a way to address political problems urgently.”
He added, “We can’t obtain the Africa we want, as per Agenda 2063, when the guns are firing in some of our 54 members States at a certain given time. It is important for us to silence those guns, as AU, we are committed to this but we need cooperation of our member states because African Union is not a government.”
African Union member states pledged to end hostilities around the continent by 2020. Whether this will be achieved or not, it is hard to predict, especially with the seemingly ever-rising political instabilities and civil wars in some member states.