President Muhammadu Buhari has lamented the mass migration of African youth to European, saying the development drains the continent of talent pool, while provoking political crises in Europe.
The President stated this in an article he penned to mark the participation of Nigeria at the ongoing 6th EU-AFRICA summit in Brussels, Belgium.
In the article published in Politico, an online/offline magazine which is the most influential publication for the EU/ in Brussels, President Buhari said despite its best efforts, Europe will not find a sustainable remedy to this problem by further reinforcing its Fortress Europe approach.
According to him, instead, more opportunities must be created for Africans at home, providing alternatives to the decision to take a life-threatening boat journey in order to seek them elsewhere.
He advised that economic relationship between the two continents must be recalibrated to focus on job creation.
The President said, “By 2050, Africa’s population of 1.3 billion is set to double, making up a quarter of the world’s total. My country, Nigeria, is set to double its population to 400 million by then, surpassing the United States to become the third largest nation in the world. This means a huge youthful market right on Europe’s doorstep and — with increased trade a growing middle class with money to spend.
However, despite burgeoning possibility, irregular northward migration from my continent drains Africa’s talent pool, while provoking political crises in the EU. When it comes to the relationship between the European Union and Africa, unfair arrangements have long been skated over for lack of alternatives. Increasingly unsustainable, these one-sided deals have provoked calls from both sides of the Mediterranean for a partnership of equals.
“At the EU-Africa Summit, leaders from across my continent will gather with their European counterparts to transform such rhetoric into substance. The EU is currently Africa’s largest trading partner, and Africa is the fastest growing continent on earth. While each presents the other with great opportunities, as partners, we also share a host of problems. Today, the EU-Africa relationship must be shifted toward a new economic arrangement in order to address them.
The relationship between the EU and Africa must be rebalanced to power job creation. Unfortunately, today’s arrangements do just the opposite. Where some claim preferential trade policies with the EU lend a helping hand to Africa, the real picture is far more complicated. The Everything but Arms scheme grants 32 African countries tariff-free access to Europe’s protected markets. In addition to the fact that this excludes many of the continent’s 54 nations, there remain barriers to Europe’s markets even for countries that qualify.
“For example, though agricultural subsidies to EU farmers may not be the same as external tariffs, their effects are identical: They make Africa’s exports uncompetitive. More than €50 billion is ploughed into keeping European food produce cheap. With its main export market distorted against them, African countries are deprived of foreign exchange, and investment in agriculture is stifled. Moving forward, it is clear what a new economic deal between our unions should entail:
For Africa, it must offer a chance for a fundamentally new economic deal. For Europe, it must provide the chance to rid itself of a trade policy that quashes job-creation in Africa and hinders efforts to stem economic migration to Europe. The way forward is clear, the deal just needs to be struck.”