NEW YORK ––Migration out of Africa is souring and more young people on the continent are willing to risk everything to cross the Mediterranean Sea as migrants into Europe, especially those that are unable to obtain visas for countries like Australia, Canada and the United States. Amongst the many reasons why African youth migrate include bad governance (e.g. corruption, armed conflicts, poor health care, natural disasters, etc.) and an elevated unemployment rate, increased susceptibility to poverty and a lack of innovation and good quality job opportunities. These factors shape many young Africans’ decision to migrate abroad permanently.
Last week, a known African labor market professional and public policy expert, Jones Nhinson Williams, initiated a campaign urging international organizations and Western countries to stop giving development aid to African governments that do not focus on and prioritize job creation, workforce development and innovation.
Adding, “In this new effort, we will encourage and work with both the private and public sectors at international levels, especially financial services entities to stop receiving and storing financial deposits from African leaders who rule countries with high unemployment rates, excruciating poverty and deplorable health sectors”.
Williams, who has started reaching out to some influential members of the United States Congress last week, plans to convey communications to various international institutions in coming weeks.
Williams has also communicated a letter to His Excellency Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, urging the world body to push African countries and governments on job creation, innovation and workforce development. He is also encouraging Guterres to appoint a UN special envoy for job creation for Africa.
In his communication with the US Senate, Williams said U.S. aid to several African nations is still not addressing the real problems affecting the people and their communities because of the many strings involved. He said continuous unchecked aid to some African states without clarified benchmarks fuels and intensifies organized and persistence corruption by the governments of the receiving countries.
Williams said unemployment leads to hardship and creates a lack of financial stability that, in turns, leads to a downwards spiral in social mobility and eventually poverty. The unemployed will have a lower standard of living than most employed people.
According to a 2014 report and other subsequent ones, Africa receives about $133.7 billion each year from official aid, grants, loans to the private sector, remittances, etc. But at the same time, some $191.9 billion is extracted from the continent in the form of debt repayments, multinational company profits, illicit financial flows, brain drain, illegal logging and fishing etc. Meanwhile, a more recent figures increased the outflow much higher – at over $218 billion.
Williams said African leaders and governments should maximize the potential and resources of the continent and international development assistance they receive from the West to put their citizens to work.
Williams said unemployment is the continent’s single biggest problem. For example, he added that there are no jobs for about 50% of graduates in most Africans countries.
He argued that since unemployment is a general problem in Africa, there must be a partnership between governments and the private sector to address it.
“Presently, half of Africa’s 1.1 billion population is under age 25 and it is estimated that 300 million African youth will enter the continent’s labor markets by 2030. Moreover, there is a mismatch between skills demand and supply to absorb this socio-economic capability due to the shortage of well-educated and skilled workforce”, he said.
Williams said Africa has made progress in democracy and the guaranteeing of basic freedoms. Therefore, its needs to build on its ongoing democratic successes by deepening reforms that lift more people out of poverty.
The bottom line, he argues, is a focus on job creation, workforce development and innovation.
Adding, “employment remains the key to assisting people help themselves out of poverty”.