Addis-Ababa — On the sidelines of the Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, the Economic Commission for Africa organized on 2 April 2016, a side event titled "Migration in Africa: issues, challenges and opportunities".
Facilitated by a panel of leading experts comprising, notably Mr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, Executive Director of the New Partnership for Africa's Development, (NEPAD), Mr. Moustafa S. Kaloko, African Union Commissioner, Social Affairs Officer, Professor Mariama Awumbila, of the Centre for Migration Studies of the University of Ghana, and Mrs. Takyiwaa Manuh, Director of the Policies and Social Development Division of the ECA, the panel had intensive discussions on, among other things, migration in Africa.
According to Mr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki who chaired the panel, "migration is not a new phenomenon, but a burning issue in Africa. He then dwelt on many research endeavours that have been carried out on the subject, whose results our States need to harness rationally to design good policies that mainstream the interests of our populations". "The responsibility of every Government is to ensure proper management of migration so that it can contribute broadly to the continent's development", he noted.
For Mr. Moustapha S. Kaloko, African Union Commissioner, migration offers more opportunities than challenges. Accordingly, he dwelt at length on such opportunities. He argued that "remittances to Africa quadrupled between 1990 and 2010, reaching nearly 40 billion dollars in 2010, which is on average equivalent to 2.6 per cent of Africa's Gross Domestic Product. Since 2006, such remittances have been the greatest source of foreign capital inflows to Africa, after foreign direct investments".
Mr. Kaloko appealed for the incorporation of migration planning into national and regional development policies, strategies and programmes to make Africa an attractive continent capable of holding back its sons and daughters and even attracting back home those that have already left.
In the same vein, Mrs. Takyiwaa Manuh said that "migration has huge implications for poverty reduction via the billions of dollars remitted that contribute to savings, investment, the wellbeing of persons, improved resilience, creation of jobs and services". She then went on to recall in vivid detail "the lack of appropriate data that constitutes a major obstacle to better understanding of the dimensions of international migration in Africa that we must unquestionably offset".
Speaking in turn, Professor Mariama Awumbila, of the Centre for Migration Studies of the University of Ghana said that today, "migration has gained in momentum and occurs in various ways and for differing reasons. He deplored the absence of reliable data and documents on international migration in most of the countries involved which, according to him, is a fundamental problem to be addressed through strengthening statistical offices that provide information on migration".
The ensuing discussions of this high-level panel revealed the fact that Africa must (i) create better conditions for leveraging migration by perceiving it as an opportunity to be grasped and not as a problem, (ii) create a continental entity specially devoted to the management of migration that continues to flourish on the continent (iii) find adequate solutions to migration problems by establishing, with the support of Europe that hosts most of the migrants, funds to create jobs for youths, (iv), promote dialogue between suppliers and users of data on migration at national and regional levels, (iv) improve the methods used to collect statistical data on migration, (v) strengthen dialogue and cooperation between countries, mindful of the interests and viewpoints of countries of origin, transit countries and countries of destination, (vi) strengthen protection of migrants and combat threats such as xenophobic or racist attacks in countries of destination, (vii) take advantage of the strategic partnership between the European Union and the African Union that lays special emphasis on migration, to have a broad discussion on the question and to secure the maximum possible benefit.