The African Union and planners in Africa must urgently address the push and pull factors that have seen African citizenry die on their way to Europe. Less than a week ago, about 35 African migrants died of thirst and dehydration in the Sahara Desert, along a well-known traffickers' route that is used by people headed to North Africa, where they subsequently try to board boats to Europe. This came in the wake of the Lampedusa boat tragedy earlier this month that saw about 365 migrants drown near an Italian island.
According to Humanitarian agencies, around 20,000 lives have been lost in the last 20 years, as men, women and children cross the Mediterranean sea in pursuit of a better life in Europe. Tens of thousands of West African migrants arrive in Europe by sea each year, according to United Nations figures.
This trend negates the much hyped stance that Africa is rising. How is it rising if its citizenry are fleeing the continent? Africa’s leaders and planners must not gloat on the fact that the continent’s middle class is clocking 313 million people, and will have a consumer spending of $1.4 trillion in 2020, up from about $860 million in 2008. They must be worried about the waning confidence of the continent’s greatest resource - its people – in the continent, and lay strategies that will build this confidence. Complacency might see this rising middle class join the migration chariot on protest grounds.