The African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat issued a real warning in stating that without a real change of policy and “without heavy investment in this youth, its education, its training … Africa, and Europe by the way, don’t have much of a future.”
The continent’s share of the global population is forecast to increase from 17 percent in 2017 to 40 percent by 2100, according to a new UN report titled: “World Population Prospects: The 2017 Revision”.
More than half of the global population growth leading up to 2050 will occur in Africa and Africa’s population is expected to expand by 1.3 billion, from 1.2 billion in 2017 to 2.5 billion in 2050.
The 55 African and 28 European leaders attending the event had been unable to agree, even on the most basic measures to prevent potentially tens of millions of African migrants from flooding Europe.
Instead, European Union leaders pledged to do more to help thousands of migrants stranded in squalid detention centers in Libya, the main departure point for migrants from Africa heading for the largesse of the EU. The EU’s 28 states have a GDP of $18 trillion, nine times Africa’s $2 trillion.
Between 2017 and 2050, the populations of 26 already poor African countries are projected to expand to at least double their current size.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel promised more aid at the summit, saying that “it’s very important that we simply support Africans to put a stop to illegal migration, so people don’t have to either suffer in horrible camps in Libya or are even being traded.”
The former head of the British embassy in Benghazi, Joe Walker-Cousins, however, revealed that at least a million migrants from countries across Africa are already heading for Libya to try and reach Europe.
The EU’s efforts to train a Libyan coast guard was “too little and too late,” Walker-Cousins warned. “My informants in the area tell me there are potentially one million migrants, if not more, already coming up through the pipeline from central Africa and the Horn of Africa.”
As African and European heads of government gathered last month, for their 5th summit since 2000, for the first time, the African Union (AU) rather than “Africa”, officially appeared as the European Union’s partner.
But little is being said about the shift from an EU-Africa to an AU-EU summit. The summit actually coincided with the January 2017 report on the reform of the African Union prepared by Rwandan President Paul Kagame to have the continental body take the lead in international negotiations.
Despite grand statements and high expectations, the only concrete decision to come out of Abidjan was the promise to evacuate 3 800 African migrants stranded in Libya.
At least 3 000 Africans drown or die annually in attempts to cross the Mediterranean, but with Africa’s population forecast to explode in the next decades, thousands more are likely to take the risk.
Already more than six million migrants are waiting in various African countries to cross into Europe, according to a classified German government report leaked to German tabloid Bild.
According to the report, one million people are waiting in Libya; another one million are waiting in Egypt, 720 000 in Jordan, 430 000 in Algeria, 160 000 in Tunisia, and 50 000 in Morocco.
And that does not include the more than three million migrants waiting in Turkey but are are currently prevented from entering the EU’s as a result of a migrant deal with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Good morning, #Abidjan. Today, African and European countries discuss sustainble economic development and investments, regional security and migration issues here at the #EUAfricasummit. pic.twitter.com/ShY6JhmAWJ
— Germany in the EU (@GermanyintheEU) November 29, 2017
The President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, said the EU was “underestimating” the scale and severity of the migration crisis and added that “millions of Africans” will soon flood the continent unless urgent action is taken.
In an interview with Il Messagero, Tajani said there would be an exodus “of biblical proportions that would be impossible to stop” if Europe failed to act.
“Population growth, climate change, desertification, wars, famine in Somalia and Sudan. These are the factors that are forcing people to leave.”
“When people lose hope, they risk crossing the Sahara and the Mediterranean because it is worse to stay at home, where they run enormous risks. If we don’t confront this soon, we will find ourselves with millions of people on our doorstep within five years.”
“Today we are trying to solve a problem of a few thousand people, but we need to have a strategy for millions of people.”
Tajani had called for a “Marshall Plan for Africa” ahead of the AU-EU summit, suggesting a €40 billion long-term investment plan to boost education and job opportunities on the continent to dissuade people from leaving.
He warned that the African demographic “bomb” with spiraling population growth, could push millions of Africans to Europe. “Without a strategy we will have terrorism, illegal immigration, instability,” he said.
By 2050, Nigeria will surpass the United States to become the world’s third-largest country by population, behind India and China, as much of Africa’s population increase will occur in Nigeria, currently the world’s 7th most populous country, according to the UN.
The population of India is incidentally expected to surpass that of China by 2024.
Beyond 2050, Africa is forecast to be the only region in the world still experiencing “substantial population growth”. It is currently is the youngest continent in the world, with 60 percent of its population under 25, compared to 32 percent in North America and 27 percent in Europe.
The director of the United Nations office in Geneva, Michael Møller, issued a warning to Europeans to prepare for the arrival of millions more African, Asian and Middle Eastern migrants.
In an interview with the British daily, The Times, Møller, who is Danish, said: “What we have been seeing is one of the biggest human migrations in history. And it’s just going to accelerate. Young people all have cellphones and they can see what’s happening in other parts of the world, and that acts as a magnet.”
German Development Minister Gerd Müller has issued a similar warning: “The biggest migration movements are still ahead: Africa’s population will double in the next decades. A country like Egypt will grow to 100 million people, Nigeria to 400 million. In our digital age with the internet and mobile phones, everyone knows about our prosperity and lifestyle.”
He added that only 10 percent of those currently on the move have reached Europe: “Eight to ten million migrants are still on the way.”
A Financial Times columnist, Gideon Rachman explained Europe’s predicament: “One possible reaction for Europe is to accept that migration from the rest of the world is inevitable — and embrace it wholeheartedly. Europe’s debt-ridden economies need an injection of youth and dynamism. Who will staff their old-age homes and building sites if not immigrants from the rest of the world?
“But even those Europeans who make the case for immigration tend to argue that, of course, newcomers to the continent must all accept ‘European values.’ That may be unrealistic… Many immigrants from the Middle East and Africa bring much more conservative and sexist attitudes with them. It will take more than a few civics classes to change that….
“It may be possible for island nations surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, such as Japan or Australia, to maintain strict controls on immigration. It will be all but impossible for an EU that is part of a Eurasian landmass and is separated from Africa only by narrow stretches of the Mediterranean.”