Europe’s ongoing tough migration policy is wrongheaded because the continent’s crises have deeper causes than political leaders will admit.
Rabat – Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, the current chair of the African Union, has suggested that Europe’s failed policies and its suspicious engagement with Africa are the drivers of the pile of crises hitting the continent.
President Kagame, who recently attended the Euro-Africa summit in Vienna, spoke to Austrian outlet Die Presse on a wide range of Africa-Europe topics.
In the interview, the AU chairperson put particular stress on the need for Europe to engage with Africa on a different level than it currently does.
Until Europe reviews how it engages with and perceives the African continent, the Rwandan president told the Austrian newspaper, European crises, especially the waves of Europe-bound African migrants, will continue to increase.
“It is not only a question of population size. It’s about the context in which the population grows,” Kagame said when asked whether Africa’s rapidly growing population is a factor in African youths increasing tendency toward emigration.
Kagame explained: “China has 1.3 billion inhabitants. However, legions of Chinese have not migrated illegally to other countries. Even if the population of Africa didn’t grow, in many places the deprivation would still be so great that people would look for alternatives. Europe has invested billions upon billions of dollars in Africa. Something must have gone wrong.”
What has gone wrong, he offered, is that Europe’s investments in Africa have not created any substantive opportunities for the continent. The billions that European companies and governments have invested in Africa in the past have had “a return ticket.”
The money left “nothing on the ground in Africa … because it was invested in the wrong place.”
But “wrong investments” in Africa is not Europe’s only problem. According to President Kagame, another European problem is the continent’s “stunning hypocrisy” in its dealings with Africa and other “third world” countries. Europe wants to shape the world in its image but hardly practices the values it proposes to the world, he said.
Europe is inviting migrants
“Europe has a migration problem because it failed to address the issue early. Instead of helping Africa, it further impoverished the continent. Don’t misunderstand me: I am not blaming Europe for the problem of migration. It is a shared problem.
“Africans must ask themselves why there is this chaos with people continuing to flee their homelands. Europe can’t be held responsible for that. But Europeans want to shape others in their own image. They constantly whine that Africa is full of dictators. Which is a way of saying: ‘We are free, Europe is paradise, come!’ That is how Europe has been inviting Africans up to today.”
President Kagame is not alone in claiming a European responsibility for the migration crisis. In fact, such a line of reasoning is becoming an established trend in a number of European and African political circles. Many panellists and country delegates at the recent Marrakech-held Global Forum on Migration and Development, as well as at the intergovernmental conference on the Global Compact for Migration, held similar views.*
Highlighting Europe’s colonial past with Africa and the perceived neocolonialism prevailing in Euro-African exchanges, many observers and politicians are increasingly proposing a new Euro-Africa partnership to weather the tide of political crises hitting both continents.
Andre Flahaut, Belgium’s budget minister, told Morocco World News in November that Europe’s survival will depend on “listening to the south.” Flahaut said that only sincere North-South cooperation and an effective Euro-Africa partnership can help mitigate the crises befalling Europe.
Germany’s Angela Merkel has similarly pleaded with German multinationals to open a new chapter with African countries. Merkel called on German companies to intensify investments in Africa, arguing that the new Euro-African partnership should create employment opportunities and other incentives to decrease the locals’ urge to migrate to Europe.