Just months after the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said that internal migration would fuel Africa’s growth and development, AfDB is echoing the call.
On Monday 4 March, the Bank’s Senior Vice-President Charles Boamah opened the third annual Africa Resilience Forum (ARF), by detailing the benefits that safe, controlled migration bring to countries of origin, transit and destination.
“This year we are going to focus on several issues, including the relationships between migration, humanitarian issues and security; youth and job creation; migration and gender; and climate change and the impact on the environment,” Boamah said at the Babacar Ndiaye Auditorium at the Bank’s headquarters.
Policy makers, representatives of international organisations, researchers, members of civil society and businesspeople considered migration in the context of fragility and resilience in six plenary sessions and eight parallel workshops through 5 and 6 March.
UNCTAD on fear driving migration narrative
UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi said that for a long time the narrative on African migrants has been driven by fear.
This contribution included labour productivity, economic growth and taxes, he said. They also contribute to their home countries through remittances and other trade connections.
25 million African migrants in 2017
In 2017, 25 million people who migrated globally were Africans accounting for 10 per cent of the 258 million people who migrated worldwide.
“Understanding migration is, therefore, important for the African Development Bank, because this work provides options to support programmes that will reduce migration flows at the same time as increasing yields,” added Boamah.
He said that while most of the discourse on African migration focus on the Mediterranean, it is important to stress that general intra-African migration accounts for 70 per cent.
“This percentage rises to 80 per cent for sub-Saharan Africa,” he said.
Popular myths about African migration
A plenary was specifically dedicated to “innovative solutions in the field of migration”, including financial solutions to highlight how poverty and low employment prospects become powerful drivers of migration and instability.
The “Migration-Security-Development” triangle was discussed at another plenary session where participants reviewed migrant-smuggling and the impacts of tightened border controls with the goal of exploding popular myths about migration.
Migration within the African continent was discussed focusing on challenges and policies. Another focus was on climate change, migration and building resilience.
New tool to assess fragility and build resilience
The debates held at the Forum will benefit from the new Country Resilience and Fragility Assessment (CRFA) tool, which uses the concept of the internal and external pressures on countries and their capacity to address these.
“Migration challenges require bold responses. In this regard, the Bank has developed the CRFA- an excellent tool to build resilience in our regional member countries,” Boamah said.
The African Development Bank is also working on migration in collaboration with the African Union, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), African civil society and African businesses.
Africa’s high-level panel on migration
AfDB President Dr Akinwumi Adesina, is a member of the high-level panel on migration, chaired by ex-President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and 15 others including the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa, Vera Songwe, and former Prime Minister of Senegal Aminata Touré.
In 2011, the Bank provided substantial assistance to Libyan refugees in Tunisia. In 2015, it extended its aid to refugees in Djibouti, as well as similar projects in Burundi, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal and Zimbabwe.
The Bank has also launched the “Jobs for Youth in Africa” programme, which offers young Africans employment, particularly in the agricultural sector, and to prevent youth from succumbing to the temptations of migration.
Over 400 participants from around the world took part in the Forum and proposed concrete actions to address the challenges posed by migration and to help build resilience within the 21 African countries classed as fragile.
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