Youth Migration: Africa In Focus—Elegbede Tayo

The instinct for survival and the quest for sustenance are running fundamentals of human existence. They propel the human mind towards aiming and achieving, confronting and conquering, hence, when the mind feels hopeless and helpless in a certain geographical space over a period of time, there is always the consideration of changing his or her location to a more perceived greener pasture. This process is called migration.

Migration has been defined as the movement of persons across borders with the intention of establishing permanent residence. Today, movement of persons across borders of the world is a regular daily occurrence.

Monday 12th of August was this year's International Youth Day, with the theme: ”Youth Migration: Moving Development Forward”.

“Of the annual total of some 214 million international migrants, young people constitute more than 10 per cent, yet too little is known about their struggles and experiences” United Nations, Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon.

In recent time, majority of migrants – legal or illegal from Africa are youths who obviously are in search of better earnings and value to life and are sometimes responsible for remittances to Africa which in turn is used to develop the individual's family, community and nation as a whole.

With over 200million youth population, African nations have a huge task ahead of them given the revelation that by 2040, half of the world's youth population would be Africans. Noting the prevailing socio-economic deficits in the continent, migration either legal or illegal will definitely be unavoidable.

Research has revealed that about 30 million Africans live outside the continent and the number continues to grow daily. This has led to an acute shortage of skills on the continent which in turn has resulted in a huge strain on African nations.

In Africa, young people migrate to either Europe or America for countless reasons, which include the quest for better education and certification, higher wage and income earnings, better living conditions and quality of life that the current infrastructure in their local environment (country) fail to provide or provide same insufficiently.

Indeed, the reality of wide-spread poverty and constant socio-economic as well as political instability in most African countries is a motivating factor for youth migration.

Often time, young Africans migrate under the delusion that life is always better and rosier abroad and some believe that money can be picked up on the streets in the United States or Europe. Unfortunately, these deluded migrants are disappointed when they dispose off their meagre belongings back home and arrive at their destinations only to be faced with the reality of “No food for a lazy soul”.

The consequent challenges of youth migration, are extensive and impactful on both the live and livelihood of youth migrants, his families and perhaps his community and country. Topmost of these challenges is the discrimination against the youth migrant by the host community either base on racial, religious, gender, language differences or simply because they are foreigners and the locals may be Xenophobic (as is mostly the case in Europe and Southern America).

Furthermore, a high rate of youth migration leads to scarcity of skilled workers thus affecting the quality of the nation's work force and of course the level of development that takes place within a certain period.

Apparently, skilled migration is largely a symptom and not a cause of underdevelopment. This is because there is a distinction between countries that export skilled labour from a large pool of supply, and those which are losing high proportions of scarce and critical human resources to migration. In the case of Africa, the latter is often the case.

However, migration if critically and developmentally approached can advance the economic status of both developing and developed nations. Countries need to identify and enable migration and development policies that support human resource development, rather than simply restricting mobility.

Since poverty – either psychological or physical is the underlying factor for massive youth migration, strong measures should be taken particularly by the government to tackle youth unemployment and restiveness, poor educational system, unjustified income disparity, unsecured livelihood and future.

Technology affords humanity to explore and engage hitherto unimaginable frontiers. African nations should deploy modern technological tools to develop their states, reverse the brain drain chant to brain gain, provide decent jobs for the bulging youth population, connect with citizens who are doing well abroad and advance the livelihood of citizens.

Youths are the greatest resource of this continent, Africa.

Elegbede Tayo JET, is a Nigerian freelance journalist and mediapreneur with local and international organisations. Twitter- @tayojet1

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Articles by Tayo Elegbede Jet