Mo Ibrahim says African migration is an opportunity, not a crisis

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JOHANNESBURG, 9 – Sudanese-British billionaire businessman and philanthropist Mo Ibrahim has said African migration presents an opportunity for both the continent and the world, but the topic triggers an emotional reaction and is generally misunderstood.

Speaking at the 2019 Ibrahim Governance Weekend in Abidjan over the weekend, Ibrahim said migration in Africa and around the world was largely about aspiration, not desperation.

“Africans leaving their home countries are looking for the chance to work and contribute to their host countries,” Ibrahim said.

“African governments should welcome migrants while ensuring that their own citizens – our continent’s greatest asset – have the education and economic opportunities they deserve. Now is the time to take action before it’s too late for our young people.”

The Mo Ibrahim forum brings together a coalition of African and global leaders to discuss issues critical to the continent’s future. This year’s meeting focused on the theme: “Africa’s Youth: Jobs or Migration?”

Former Liberian president and 2017 Ibrahim laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said there had been a lot of movement of young Africans across borders in search of opportunity in recent times.

“This has created fear and a very emotional response…but there is no migrant crisis,” Johnson Sirleaf said.

“The majority of those who cross borders do so legally; they carry with them capital, knowledge, skills, technology; they pay taxes, and they form a sizeable part of the GDP of their host countries.”

Oumar Seydi, Africa director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, highlighted the challenge of population growth.

“The elephant in the room is family planning. If you look at the data, you see that the countries with the highest population growth have also tended to be the poorest ones,” Seydi said.

“In our experience, investing in family planning is one of the most effective tools that countries have to break the poverty cycle. It enables women to plan their futures and fulfil their potential.”

The president of the African Development Bank Akinwumi Adesina highlighted the importance of involving more young Africans in agriculture.

– African News Agency (ANA)