Infrastructure and Migration: Prevention vs. Reaction

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Infrastructure and Migration: Prevention vs. Reaction

Infrastructure and Migration: Prevention vs. Reaction

The Economics of Crisis In what has been coined the worst migration crisis in Europe since the end of the Second World War, hundreds of thousands of migrants from the Middle East and Africa have flocked to Europe in seek of help. In 2014, roughly 170,000 migrants landed on Italian shores alone. With the rise of movement, there has been a sharp and tragic increase in migrant deaths. In August 2015, the Austrian government discovered 71 deceased migrants in an abandoned lorry due to suffocation.

Countless migrants have attempted to cross into the UK via hiding in the backs of moving vehicles and staggering numbers have died crossing the Mediterranean in hopes of finding a better life in Greece or Italy.

These staggering numbers hold deep significance; migrants are landing on the shores of some of Europe’s most financially strained countries. With Greece on the brink of default, the nation simply cannot afford to take on any more financial responsibility. The current migrant crisis is putting financial strain on the countries receiving them; furthermore, trips across the Mediterranean run between £2000-£3000 a person, thus placing incredible financial strain on the migrants attempting to flee an already shaky economic situation. The New York Times reported that the entire industry is worth roughly a billion dollars. Clearly, the funds are there. The question that must be asked is how can we address this? Furthermore, how can we address this in such a way that we are not dealing with the consequences of the migrant crisis but rather preventing the need for a crisis in the first place?

AFIDEP Takes a Stand Through investment in infrastructure, many of the issues driving the migrants to flee their home countries could begin to be resolved. By opening investment projects in both the Middle East and Africa, the need for wage-workers will highly increase. While this is certainly not a fix-all solution, it is certainly a start. With youth unemployment skyrocketing throughout the African continent, citizens of African countries, especially the younger generations, have nowhere else to go. When there are no economic opportunities at home, the risk of losing your life becomes worth it.

The over 40% unemployed African youths are a “ticking time bomb”, says Mthuli Ncube of the AfDB. According to the African Economic Outlook, a paper prepared by the AfDB, UNDP, ECA and OECD, with over 200 million people aged between 15 and 24 (the youth bracket), Africa has the youngest population in the world and this is expected to double by 2045. While a World Bank survey in 2011 showed that about 40% of those who join rebel groups are jobless, the International Labour Organization (ILO), opine that 82% of African workers are working poor. The story is worrisome and not congruent with the fact that the “10 fastest-growing economies in the world are in sub-Saharan Africa” (AfDB).

AFIDEP believes that via the promotion of infrastructure initiatives in the African continent, we can begin to address the root causes of poverty, thus commencing the long journey to solving much larger problems such as the migrant crisis. The construction, maintenance, and development of large-scale projects require a vast number of staff. One project could easily employ an entire town. So how can we ensure that investment will actually produce beneficial results? This is where AFIDEP turns to public private partnership (PPP) and build, operate, and transfer models.

PPP projects require thoughtful and comprehensive collaboration between the government of a country and one or more private entities. Such an agreement requires that governments adhere to certain guidelines to ensure that the private investors receive a high return on investment. This system increases accountability, transparency, and ultimately the prospect of wide-scale social and economic improvements across the African continent. While AFIDEP recognizes that the lack of infrastructure in and of itself is not the sole cause of the migrant crisis, it is vital to note that something as fundamental as a well-developed infrastructure development program could ease the issue.

Navigating the Terrain of PPP and Infrastructure While AFIDEP holds that PPP-based infrastructure development will begin to solve the economic crisis throughout Africa, we also recognize that this is unfamiliar territory for many investors. African markets have a notoriously bad reputation, thus discouraging investments; however, lack of such investment results in crises like the current migrant crisis. The world of PPP involves political science, finance, business, and sociology. This is where AFIDEP steps in.

In October, AFIDEP will hold a global convention in Zurich, Switzerland to address this. Speakers from around the world, including delegates from the African Development Bank, will come to make a case for PPP based development in Sub-Saharan Africa and the world at large. The conference will also attract investors, project owners, CEO’s, and government officials. The conference will serve as a forum in which all relevant parties will meet in one unified location.

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