This might have escaped you — what is happening in bedrooms in Africa seems to give some Europeans sleepless nights, at least if we go by the perspective of French President Emanuel Macron. Africa has “civilisational problems,” argues Mr Macron, turning it into a factory of babies who are now immigrating to Europe en masse.
According to Mr Macron these “problems” are manifested in families of “seven to eight children per woman”.
And Monsieur Macron is not alone in this naïve and pejorative assessment. Danish Minister for Development Cooperation Ulla Tørnæs chirruped at a conference that “to limit the migration pressure on Europe, a part of the solution is to reduce the very high population growth in many African countries.” To that effect, Denmark pledged $15 million for contraceptives in Africa.
The illegal mass immigration is of concern to Europe as it is to Africa, which is depleted of prime-bodied youngsters ripe for nation building. For Africa, statistics are grim. Roughly 150,000 people engage in the dangerous journey every year.
Thousands die at sea and deserts. Those who make it arrive to a hellish Europe, a sharp contrast of the fantasy they harboured before the epic journeys.
This is thanks to an intricate network of people engaged in an illicit but lucrative trade. They’re said to charge Sh200,000 per person.
The surge of humanity piles pressure on social services, and security in Europe. It explains why the phenomenon is informing major political discourses and reinvigorating nationalistic ideologies.
But to reduce the intricate spectre to bedroom matters is ridiculous, shallow and escapist.
The trouble of Africa and immigration is not so much about bedroom gymnastics. It’s of terrible governance.
The triggers are multifaceted, mainly economic, others flee from tyrannical regimes like Eritrea and civil war like South Sudan and Somalia.
The African immigrants are mostly from West Africa, from former French Colonies that have largely become basket cases.
The continent’s economy has been battered, looted by systemic corruption and bad governance. Most of the loot is stashed away and enjoyed in Europe and other offshore havens.
Instead, the African elite has reduced youth into zombies — machines for heckling, wielding machetes, voting and rioting. It doesn’t end there. Multinationals are on a looting spree, evading tax and corrupting the systems. It’s the West that has partly midwifed this sad state of affairs.
The African Union (AU) reckons that Africa loses $50 billion annually in illicit financial flows. Further, it’s an open secret that trade misinvoicing is a smooth operation of titanic scales playing out every day. Europe should support Africa to end this madness.
Europe should repatriate the stolen wealth to support good governance and youth economic empowerment programmes. Trade is better than contraceptives.
GLOOM AND DOOM
Luckily all is not gloom and doom. Germany has mooted a blueprint that should redesign hope for African youth. The “Marshal Plan with Africa” is anchored on key pillars namely: Economic activity, trade and employment; peace and security; and democracy and the rule of law.
It’s in Africa’s best interest when the environment is right for holistic growth that will incentivise youth, and spur them to productivity. If nothing happens, even Agenda 2063 will remain a mirage.
Tanzanian President John Magufuli has shown the cue. He’s scrutinising deals and payments by big mines. The same should be extrapolated across the continent.
Mr Wamanji is a public relations professional. [email protected]