Migration, in its simpler human definition, is the movement of persons from one place to another. As of 2015, the global population of human migrants according to UNFPA was 244 million, which is 3.3 per cent of world population. The push and pull factors identified were: family, natural disaster, education, conflict and economic opportunities. In Sub-Saharan Africa, IMF stated that the number of migrants doubled since 1990 to reach about 20 million in 2013. Two root causes discovered were conflict and pursuit for economic opportunities. However, various migration studies showed that over the years, there were fewer conflict migrants and greater economic migrants from Africa. In statistics, UNHCR 2011 official data of International migrants from Africa put refugee (conflict) migrants at 14 per cent and economic migrants at 86 per cent.
[Editors note] In recent weeks we have heard of horrific stories coming out of Libya regarding the trade in slaves of many of these migrants, who are destined never to make it to their wished destinations, and it seems maybe not even back home. There sad journey need not have happened, if they were confident that prosperity was possible in their own lands.
The root causes of migration in Nigeria mirrored to that of Sub-Saharan Africa – internal conflict, leading to 2,152,000 Internally Displaced Persons, (with 85 per cent caused by Boko Haram) and pursuit of economic opportunities. There is no official data for Nigeria`s economic migrants. However, because of her huge population, youth unemployment rate (25.20 per cent), various EU`s Mediterranean sea crossing statistics, African migration statistics to America, and South Africa’s periodic Immigrant reports, one can deduce that there are more economic migrants from Nigeria than other African countries.
Like most African countries, Nigeria is a mono economy, heavily dependent on the sale of crude oil and does not strive to add additional value to its abundant natural resources. Young people with an estimate population of 91 million (Bloomberg, 2016), that constitute a large demographic of economic migrants, are under-represented, while general citizen participation in the governance process is low with grassroots development needs heavily ignored.
Thus, migration solution lies in economic diversification and citizen participation in the governance process in Africa and Nigeria. For example, the Nigerian government’s heavy intervention in sectors like agriculture and the creative industry (music, movies, literature and fashion) will reduce greatly the over-dependence on crude oil and open up economic opportunities in these sectors that will be able to trap the emigrating working class.
[Editors note] Nigeria is pushing to make a change, and diversify away from the oil industry. In recent weeks, it has been acknowledged that the new start-up capital of Africa is Lagos, and companies like Facebook are stepping up their investment to make sure that connectivity is more substantial. Innovative start-ups are popping up in many sectors. In the agricultural sector, that needs massive investment throughout the continent, there are creative ways of farming with large yields in urban areas, for example Fresh Direct, and FarmCrowdy who are enabling anyone to invest in a farm, even if they can’t get to the farm to work it themselves. The entertainment sector has also seen great innovation.
Nigeria has long been at the forefront of the African movie and music industry, and they keep finding news ways to bringing profitable entertainment. Battabox for example is producing high quality local content, in a clickbait style to draw in the masses. If you couple this with the rise of e-commerce in Nigeria, as well as the many other innovations, which are creating jobs, and enabling individuals to receive benefits, the future for Nigeria looks promising.
Without government intervention, Nigeria’s creative industry alone is expected to gross in 16billion Naira ($51million) in 2017. In Agriculture, though the Buhari-led government has begun investment with different social investment programs, more still needs to be done. In citizen participation, many Nigerian and African citizens lack the engagement skills needed to channel their economic, social and political needs to appropriate institutions and demand accountability from their leaders in return, and most governments are not citizen-needs-oriented. This lacuna is where corruption, under-development, resource control agitation and political conflict thrive, ultimately resulting in conflict and economic migration. This lacuna could be best addressed with citizen-needs-centered budgets, open budget process, and daily policy and civic education programmes.
Thank you to Chimezie Anjama for this interesting point of view about how innovation in Africa can stop the migration struggle. It is not only about slowing down the rate that economic migrants are leaving African shores. This is also about curbing the brain drain of young excellent Africans who are being poached by other countries, into their top positions. Nigeria in particular has great potential, with a massive and youthful population, they have the chance to be at the forefront of African innovation.
Chimezie Anajama is a sociologist with strong interest in development and public policy sector. She uses her communication and writing skills to tell development stories when not implementing ideas to better her society. A lover of arts, innovative learning and sustainable society. See more of her development related activities here (https://www.instagram.com/nwuliareads/). Tweet her: @MsChimezie
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