Africa Losing Young Talent to Migration

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The Synod on Youth recently took place in the Vatican City (3–28 October 2018) and Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier, Archbishop of Durban, South Africa, during a meeting with the press remarked that “Africa is losing some of its most gifted young people to migration because of the exploitation of natural resources and the environment.” [Agenzia Fides, 17/10/2018]

The migration of educated, young people is a growing concern throughout Africa, and one that is echoed in an article in the Ghana News Agency this week. According to GNA, a civil society coalition, working to popularise the African Charter for Democracy, Elections and Governance, has expressed grave concern over the increasing trend towards migration of talented, young people. The coalition goes on to say that the reasons for the exodus of qualified youth from Africa is due to “the failure of African governments to develop their countries, put in place the right systems, provide jobs to the teeming youth and reduce the corruption cankerworm.”

While there has been relatively little research on the issue of poor governance as a driver of migration, the fact remains that educated young people are leaving their home countries in large numbers. A 2013 United Nations report shows that one in nine Africans with a tertiary education were living in developed countries in Europe, North America and elsewhere.

According to the the World Economic Outlook (October 2016), “Brain drain is particularly acute in sub-Saharan Africa. The migration of young and educated workers takes a large toll on a region whose human capital is already scarce.”  Their findings state that the concentration of migrants among those who are educated is higher than in other developing economies.

Africa is the world’s youngest continent, with an estimated 10 to 12 million young people joining the labour force each year. Yet the continent is able to create only about 3 million jobs annually. The African Union estimates that about 70,000 skilled professionals emigrate from Africa every year.

Several recommendations, including gender responsive economic development programmes, have been put forth by the the African Union Migration policy framework (2018-2027).  The aim of these programmes would be to provide education opportunities, gainful employment and professional development programmes for young people in their home countries.

As Akinwumi  Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, stated at the G7 summit in 2017, “The future of Africa’s youth does not lie in migration to Europe; it should not be at the bottom of the Mediterranean; it lies in a prosperous Africa. We must create greater economic opportunities for our youth right at home in Africa.”

It is crucial that governments recognise this and address it, as young people represent the legacy of the past and the successes or failures of the future.

8 Novermber 2018