Why the world must become more responsive towards Africa’s issues

19th January 2017


It is -8ºC in Davos, and our team is knee-deep in layers of snow. For the participants of the World Economic Forum (WEF), it is the dawn of another day in Davos-Klosters, raising new questions and proffering solutions to old ones on how to improve the state of the world as is WEF’s mission.

For the Africans at this year’s Davos, the task we have set for ourselves is clear, one of which still hovers on the periphery–convincing the 3,000 political and business leaders present, and in extension, the world, that we all should be responsive and responsible towards Africa’s issues. Africa’s challenges may seem unique to the continent, but if not properly addressed, they could become global issues.

Here’s why:

1. Migration Crisis
The looming migration crises has garnered much attention in the past decade. It is estimated that about 14% of 244 million international migrants are from Africa; a good percentage of them are illegal. A UN refugee agency, UNHCR report states that of a million refugees and economic migrants who enter the EU in 2015, the main countries are Nigeria (15%), Gambia (10%), Somalia (9%), Ivory Coast, Eritrea and Guinea (8% each) and Senegal (7%).

With these alarming statistics, migration could become a crisis for developed countries in the future, threatening the jobs and security of the host countries. In a public poll conducted in the UK, immigrants were believed to ‘put a strain on public services’.

The EU has been working to put policies in place to curb the imminent migration crises, including working with countries that show highest rate of emigrants. However, experts state that improving the quality of lives in these countries could help curb the crises for immigrants on the move in the search for better job opportunities. This would entail working in synergy with government agencies and institutions committed to providing solutions to this challenge.

2. Trade, Investments & Unemployment

With 1.2 billion people living in Africa and up to 200 million people aged between 15 and 24, Africa boasts the youngest population in the world. For business analysts, the figures make Africa an attractive economy for investments and trade. However, there are a few drawbacks.

The World Bank posits that 60% of African youths are unemployed resulting in over-dependency on scarce resources, increasing crime rate and slow growth. Infrastructure especially in key sectors of the economy such as power, energy, healthcare and education, that could have provided growth of SMEs and employment for youths, suffer from neglect. Intra-trade channels are still largely unexploited due to numerous bureaucracies and weak policies. Despite the efforts of well-meaning developmental organisations such as the Tony Elumelu Foundation which has identified the imminent youth crises and has set aside $100 million to endow 10,000 youths, a lot more needs to be done by other private sector players and the government.

Failure to address this issue can lead to a more damaging consequence. Already, investors tread warily in placing their investments in a continent plagued with inconsistencies and lack of strategic planning. Ultimately, intra and inter-trade relations suffer growth, and the developed countries lose out on returns they should have benefited from these opportunities.
3. Food Security

Responding to statistics that one billion people were under malnourished by 2012, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) concluded that the world is still far from reaching millennium development goal (MDG) number 1: to halve extreme poverty and hunger by 2015.

With about 30.37km (sq.) expanse of land and 33 million small farms exist in Africa, mainly driven by women, Africa contributes significantly to the availability of food globally. A World Bank report states that Africa’s farmers could create a trillion-dollar food market by 2030 if they can expand their access to more capital, electricity, better technology and irrigated land to grow high-value nutritious foods.

However, the recent surge in the urbanisation of African youths, among other factors, could affect Africa’s food production and threaten food security globally come 2050. Africa needs partners in improving its agricultural value chain to contribute significantly to the global food output.

In conclusion, Africa’s challenges could become a global menace without adequate commitment. More importantly, Africa needs partners who are willing to commit for the long-term towards investing in its development; an action that if taken, is bound to yield significant returns. Our Chairman, Tony O. Elumelu, CON, leading a team from across the Heirs Holdings Group to WEF this year, is seeking such partnerships from like-minded investors from across the global stage in key sectors that will yield both developmental and economic dividends across the continent.