Economic strife, insecurity, corruption, political intolerance, unreliable internet and poor education systems are behind the desire of many young Africans to move to Europe or the United States.
To be exact, more than half of young Africans between the ages of 18 and 24 are likely to consider emigrating in the next three years if their governments do nothing to improve their quality of life. It is according to 2022 African Youth Survey (pdf) report by the Ichikowitz Family Foundation (IFF), released recently to celebrate World Refugee Day on June 20.
The study shows that on average, 52% of Africa’s young population wants to emigrate, but in Nigeria and Sudan it is three quarters of the population while in Angola and Malawi it is the two-thirds. Compared to the study 2019 (pdf) there is a 22% increase in the number of young people saying they would like to move to another country. Africa’s average age is 19 years.
What is even more alarming is that half of those who would like to emigrate elsewhere have no intention of returning home.
The study is based on researchers conducting 300 face-to-face interviews in Angola, Republic of Congo, DRC, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, in South Africa, Sudan, Uganda and Zambia.
The pandemic years have been difficult for many Africans
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit Africa hard, adversely affecting education, health and economic well-being. Four out of ten young Africans said they had to interrupt or stop their schooling because of the pandemic. 34% disapprove of their government’s response to the virus. One in five young Africans have become unemployed as a result of the pandemic and 18% have been forced to leave cities to return home.
Within the continent, South Africa stands out as by far the most attractive destination for young Africans looking to emigrate. Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria are other popular destinations.
âThey want to escape the problems of their country of origin. They are looking for a better life. Even South Africans want to go to the United States,â IFF chairman Ivor Ichikowitz told Quartz.
At least 39% of respondents said they want African countries to emulate the structure and systems of government of Western democracies.
Instability is one of the main concerns of African youth. 75% are concerned about the political volatility on the continent, rising to 91% and in Kenya due to the upcoming elections on August 9 and 89% in Mozambique.
Only 40% of young Africans think their governments are doing enough to tackle crises in their country. In Ethiopia, this figure drops to 20% and in Nigeria to 16%. There is an 11% drop in optimism compared to 2019.
Terrorism, corruption and a poor internet are harming Africa’s youth
At least half of young Africans have seen their lives affected by terror, insurgency or conflict. 15% of them have either been approached to be recruited by a terrorist organization or know someone who has been. In Mozambique, this figure rises to 25%, in particular because of Cabo Delgado. gun violence which has displaced more than 700,000 people internally this month. Terrorist groups such as Boko Haram in Nigeria, Al Shabaab in Kenya and Somalia are other examples.
Ichikowitz adds that in a continent wracked by violence, internal and external, there is a very clear sign that the next generation of people who will lead the continent are neither helpless nor ignorant of the dangers facing their country and their continent.
“On the contrary, they are highly motivated, highly informed and deeply engaged citizens, determined to ensure that they have a chance to live a life that may have been denied to their parents.”
However, many young adults do not want to work in government because they believe that government agencies have stolen their future through corruption. No less than 69% are dissatisfied with their governments’ job creation efforts.
âInternet access is a basic human right. Governments should protect young people from high mobile internet charges by telecom operators and stop shutting down the internet. Where there is challenge, there is also hope,â says Ichikowitz. Only one in eight young people can afford mobile internet at all times.
Africans generally accept refugees
However, young Africans show high levels of tolerance towards refugees, with 64% agreeing that their country has a moral obligation to help refugees from neighboring countries, regardless of their impact.
Countries willing to help refugees settle are Rwanda (91%), Ethiopia (75%) and Kenya (74%), while South Africa (44%), DRC (40 %) and Nigeria (39%) are the most strongly opposed to taking in refugees.
Sub-Saharan Africa is home to more than a quarter of the world’s refugee population, or about 18 million people according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Of all the foreign actors considered to have influence on the continent, young people consider China to have by far the greatest impact at 54%, followed by the United States at 41%.
The report calls on African governments to commit budgets to support entrepreneurship, update education curricula, tame corruption, improve healthcare, increase internet penetration and curb electoral violence in order to keep their young people on their continent.