14 November 2015

Valletta Summit on migration: 1.8 billion euros for Africa to stop Africa-to-Europe migration - Illusion or irresponsibility?

It is sad to see that European leaders and around thirty African Heads of State or Government who met during the Valletta Summit on migration on 11 and 12 November have taken perfectly inappropriate decisions that will fail to handle sustainably the migration drama that we can see displayed every day in our media. In doing so, they have demonstrated a total lack of understanding - whether real or simulated does not really matter - of the real drivers of migration in Africa. It is important to recall here first that migration in Africa (as elsewhere in the world) takes mainly place between countries located within the continent itself, and that only a tiny proportion of migrants actually seek to go to the rich countries of the North.

Who can seriously believe that with less than 2 billion euros (of which hardly one hundred million are so far available) largely spent to reinforce the fight against illegal human trafficking channels, border control and cooperation among national police authorities and intelligence agencies (see plan of action), it will be possible to stop desperate young Africans who have lost hope for the future from putting their life at stake and migrate to Europe where they believe they can find a better life (a job, the rule of law, etc.) even though they know that, at the end of their journey, they will often not be welcome?

This small amount that is be mobilised for Africa should be compared to the three billion that will go to Turkey. It should also be compared to the 13 billion euros spent by the EU over the last fifteen years for funding the expulsion of illegal migrants and implementing its border protection programme ( They should also be contrasted with the around 53 billion euros (*) of aid provided to Africa in 2013 and with the 490 billion euros aid that Africa obtained from the international community between 2000 and 2013 (OECD), as well as with the annual net negative financial flow of 54 billion euros that go from Africa to the rest of the world, an estimate recently made by a consortium of NGOs lead by HealthPovertyAction for the period 2009-2011 [read here our summary]. It should also be put besides the estimated 15 billion euros that migrants themselves spent since the beginning of the century to fund their migration (, and the more than 17 billion euros that migrants send annually to their family who remained in Africa and that are indispensible to their livelihood and to the economy of the continent. These quick comparisons demonstrate how insignificant the effort made by the EU in Valletta is and how absurd the communication is that takes place around this decision. They also help to understand the frustration expressed by some African diplomats at the end of the Summit.

If migrations are on the increase in Africa, it is also largely because economic growth on the continent, although strong over the last years particularly in some countries, has not resulted in a reduction of poverty, on the contrary, and has implied an exacerbation of income disparity. Several studies and reports, including that of the Africa Progress Panel, in 2014 [read our comments] agree that tax evasion and corruption are common on the continent, and that many economic actors adopt illegitimate - sometimes illegal - and opaque practices, and that foreign investments should be regulated to be more beneficial for Africans. Illegal capital flight from the continent has been estimated by HealthPovertyAction to be more than 33 billion euros annually, and profit repatriation by foreign investors more than 42 billion euros each and every year, on average. So much for the deficiencies of governments in the region! But Europeans themselves have their responsibility too: a growing part of aid provided to Africa by the EU and its members is used to subsidise private investments made by big European companies, in particular through the EU’s ‘Blending’ programme, rather than for funding development actions that could improve the lives and economic opportunities of the majority of the local population. In some cases, these EU supported private investments have even contributed to deprive local populations from the resources (land in particular) that constitute the main basis of their livelihood, pushing them violently on the roads of migration towards the cities. This suggests that it seems quite artificial to make a distinction between ‘economic migrants’ and political refugees, as both categories are victims or potential victims of violence and that they resort to migration for survival.

It is evident that those leaders who met in Valletta have a huge responsibility in the increase in migrations that can be observed in Africa, and it is not the meager 2 billion of the fund just created by the EU that will really change anything.

What is required is a huge investment effort and beyond that a total redesign of aid to Africa. Unless this is being done, whatever additional resources mobilised are likely to end up in bank accounts located in tax havens. It is only through a thourough rethinking of development in Africa and the creation of adequate political and institutional conditions that are its prerequisites, that one can hope to see the perspectives of African people change sustainably, so that they will no more be complelled in despair to take the final decision to migrate when all other options seem to lead to a dead end.

This will be a long term effort that should all the more be undertaken immediately that it will take time to produce its effects.

(*) estimates coming from OECD/DAC and the HealthPovertyAction study have been converted into euros using the exchange rate of 1dollar = 0,929 euro.


To know more :

  1. -Action Plan and Political Declaration, Valletta Summit on migration, 2015

Earlier articles on related to the topic:

  1. -Plundering Africa, 2015

  2. -The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Africa: focus on land and seeds, 2015

  3. -The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition: a coup for corporate capital? by N. McKeon, 2014

  4. -MacMillan, A., Lampedusa, Westgate and Famine in the Horn of Africa - It’s All too Easy to Forget, 2013

  5. -A first analysis of the implementation of the G8’s New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition confirms worries about this initiative, 2013


Last update:    November 2015

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