The theme of migration has become one of the main topics discussed between Africa and Europe. During the AU-EU summit held in Abidjan at the end of November, the Libyan drama haunted all minds. Everyone has his guilty role in this humanitarian disaster: Europe, which can not overcome the security approach to migration, and Africa, which can not offer all its citizens decent living conditions.
At the High-Level Conference on Africa in the European Parliament on 22 November, Mr Owona Kono, President of Afruibana and Co-Chair of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, was invited to speak at the round table on migration, youth and human development. Dealing with all these themes in a round table may seem pretentious, but these topics are intrinsically linked.
Indeed, FAO and CIRAD estimate in a joint study that nearly 380 million young Africans, including 220 million in rural areas, will enter the labor market by 2030. Mr. Kostas Stamoulis, Assistant Director General and Head of the Economic and Social Development Department at FAO, summarizes well the issues that will arise to us in the coming years: “The challenge is to create enough jobs to absorb all this workforce. Thus, it is for all these reasons that agriculture and rural development must be an integral part of every intervention deployed to cope with major migratory movements in order to make the most of the potential of migration for the benefit of development “.
This is Afruibana’s message to African and European leaders. The development of agriculture is the best way to ensure inclusive and sustainable growth while offering professional opportunities for youth. This will prevent a massive exodus of our fellow citizens to large African cities in precarious conditions, or worse, take the smugglers’ routes to the shores of the Mediterranean to reach Europe. In a continent that accounts for 65% of the world’s arable land, for a population that is still 50% rural, it is the best way to provide people with training and employment to earn a decent income, and stabilize.
Above all, this demographic dynamic that is often presented as a time bomb is very useful here. In fact, the agricultural labor force in sub-Saharan Africa is aging. It is time to transmit the know-how between the different generations, some bringing their expertise and others their dynamism and creativity. The involvement of youth in agriculture is all the more indispensable as it is a sector fully transformed by digital technology.
Looking to the Mediterranean is useless, it is already too late. These human dramas will only cease when we act concretely on the causes of migration. Africa needs to put in place inclusive and sustainable growth, to offer everyone a professional future in their country. Agricultural development is particularly relevant for fighting poverty. I see it every day in the banana industry, which provides thousands of jobs in Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and elsewhere. In the “territories of the fruit”, the bananerais nourish an entire ecosystem where they constitute a pillar of local development. That is why I think that Africa and Europe have every interest in acting in favor of African agriculture.