Africa is a continent ‘on the move’, a concept that refers mainly to the migration flows within and from the continent. Media often put more emphasis on intercontinental flows, while African migration remains overwhelmingly intra-continental.
Although the exodus of young Africans to other continents, especially toward Europe, is on the rise, the largest number of sub-Saharan migrant flows are still intra-regional and intra-continental rather than extra-continental. It is important to keep all this in mind in order to understand the African migration phenomenon in its entirety and consequently to find durable solutions to this problem.
Not long ago, I had the chance to exchange opinions on the political situation in the African continent with some young University students attending International Relations courses. The migration theme came up. The students were interested in understanding the real causes that push young people like them to abandon their homeland and embark on an adventure that leads many of them to slavery, or even to lose their lives in the Sahara desert or in the Mediterranean. The explanations found in manuals did not seem to convince them.
As a matter of fact, current migration phenomenon and its causes are not studied deeply. Some economic systems, military-strategic decisions made over the past few decades, funding to developing countries and terrorist groups, corrupted policies or lack of policies, even though strictly related to the migration phenomenon, have not been analyzed carefully.
As far as Africa is concerned, reflections are often limited to commonplaces (poverty, tribal wars etc.) without delving into one of the basic root causes of the African migration flows: African young people feel foreigners in their own homeland.
They therefore, prefer to feel foreigners in another place rather than in their own country, since they feel they do not matter, that they are irrelevant. This is not pure imagination but a reality that can be noted in any African country where one always sees the same picture: the frenetic activity of trucks loaded with goods and resources, by now totally depleted locally, before the powerless local people, who struggle in absolute poverty and barely survive.
The African population remains as a mere spectator in front of the lucrative activities carried out by foreign firms including those of the new African partner, China. Chinese companies often employ Chinese workers, so China invests in Africa’s infrastructures, but fails to employ local labour.
Only a minority consisting of small corrupted and armed groups that negotiate contracts and concessions for their own benefits with foreign multinationals, take advantage of this situation at the expense of the rest of the African people who continue to feel like foreigners in their own country and who are forced to leave their land.
President of the Spanish Association of Africanists.