Are Africa’s migration problems and now Europe’s problems a result of unplanned population growth in Africa?

During a visit to Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, Mr. Macron, the French president reiterated a point he had made on several occasions that Africa’s migration problems are a result of unplanned population growth on the continent. He immediately faced strong criticisms with many Africans calling his statement a symbol of colonialism.

Africa’s problems are many and varied, but a common theme does resonate throughout the continent. The continent is rich in resources and talent, but a vast majority of the people continue to suffer from the basic needs that sustain life.

It is continually ravaged by conflicts and wars for which the continent is notoriously known for.  With these in mind, it is hard to imagine why the French president would single out population growth as the main issue causing migration.

Macron’s statement would appear on its face as valid if you just look at the fact that Africa’s population is growing a lot faster than Europe’s. This is certainly not a perspective that can just be dismissed. As the argument would go, if Africa had restricted it’s population growth to the potential it can support, then its people would have so much resources at their disposal to expend that they would not have to travel to seek greener pastures in Europe. The only problem with this is that Africa does have enough resources to sustain its population. Then why does it fail to satisfy its people? And fail would be an understatement.

Zimbabwe, one of the last African countries to get rid of the chains of colonialism had her independence in 1980. That was over 40 years ago. Even after these many years, African countries and many Africans still view the west as a major cause to their economic problems.

Some of these accusations do have merit. It is hard to imagine that just because free individuals forced against their will through the barrel of a gun escaped from their captors after decades in captivity will suddenly begin to live a normal life after many years of abuse and oppression. We are bound to see the symptoms of abuse manifest in many different forms.  

It becomes worse if the captors institute a way to extend their abuse through other parties or handpicked enforcers or as we now know them, corrupt leaders.

In many of these African countries, those who want to become leaders have to cozy up to their colonial heritage. And there lies the irony. One would now ask if they are really independent. These colonial masters often look the other way when these rulers abuse with impunity, pilify government coffers, but immediately pretend to be morally concerned only when their interests become threatened.   

We can take the case of Cameroon where the French president has so far been quiet despite atrocities perpetrated by government forces. One would think that France would be at the forefront of calling to an end to violence and pressuring the government to resolve an issue that began only as a peaceful strike by lawyers and teachers asking for nothing more than better governance and state responsibility. Their strike was brutally crushed by the security forces with several people losing their lives. What did the French president say? Nothing.

These regions are now ravaged by war with hundreds of thousands displaced and tens of thousands are now refugees in neighboring Nigeria. What is the French government’s stance on this? You guessed it, Mr. Macron has yet to issue a statement. Many of these displaced individuals are now migrating to Europe to seek refugee status.  Wouldn’t you expect Mr. Macron to bring issues like these as the cause of Africa’s migration problems?

Mismanagement and corruption are certainly at the root of Africa’s problems. Amnesty international reported that about 80% of migrants to Europe are from Syria, Libya, Nigeria, Niger, Sudan, Ghana and Ethiopia. What is common in all these countries is that they have been ruled by dictators for decades.

Should the west still be held responsible for the atrocities it committed during colonization? The answer to this question lies in what the west has done so far after colonization to rectify those issues or what it has done to minimize the divide and rule concept it so devastatingly instituted in ruling the continent.

The remnants of divide and rule still persist and many of the conflicts and wars in Africa quite frankly have been as a result of divide and rule. We can say, colonization ended 50 years ago, but the vestiges of its impact live on. These are issues the west has to confront and accept the responsibility for having engineered.

While one may be quick to fault European countries for not taking action to prevent leaders from these countries embezzling funds and spending the stolen money in Europe, one must also recognize the fact there are laws in these countries. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty.  How do you prove that wealth is ill gotten when the person to provide the evidence for that is the accused?

Africa has also got to accept the fact that the west is not coming to make any remunerations for past sins. They already prayed to God and their sins have been forgiven :). People are moving on to face the many other challenges that confronts them. Minimum wage, high cost of education, health care and the list is long. Why would anyone worry about some African country ruled by a dictator? Why would anyone care about poor education in Africa with vast resources when they are struggling with high tuition fees? First step in solving a problem is first owning it.

Let Africans begin by owning their problems and solutions won’t be far off.

Africans largely fail themselves when they do not to take ownership and responsibility of their problems. You would think in the absence of the west with its own domestic problems not coming to their aid, these African countries would bring into effect policies they have already enacted and abide by them to pull them out of poverty. Unfortunately, that is hardly the case.

These countries are ravaged by corruption, nepotism, selfishness and these have taken a form of endemic illness. Generations come and go and barely significant changes are made. With so much potential and little foresight in making progress, these regions seem stuck in a perpetual struggle for survival.

Not surprisingly, many have turned to religion for a glimmer of hope. Religion which has so transformed the region that people have become slaves even to religion. People anticipate some kind of miracle that is always hoped for, but is never coming to pull them out of their misery. Some have already resigned themselves to the fact that the west is so far ahead that Africa could never catch up. The Chinese have done it and so has South Korea through sound policies and dedicated hardwork. All is not lost yet for this beautiful African continent.