Africa is experimenting with the biggest demographic development in the world’s history. This demographic explosion is occurring in a politically unstable context and in an inhomogeneous continent, divided into 54 countries, governed by leaders who are often despotic and corrupted, where the economic situation doesn’t allow a domestic wealth, which is worth 3% of world’s GDP.
Its citizens have an average per capita GDP of 5 dollars a day, while wealth concentration curve is very high and inequality is commonplace. 60% of population is made of young people, who are often unemployed and have attended schools, speak two languages, use their smartphones and inform themselves about the world.
People who don’t want to be silent anymore and who expect something more than hunger.
Before this young population, Africa has no plans. It can offer only modest opportunities, its natural riches are often wasted or sold and can’t create big opportunities for young people employment. Finally, robotics’ advance and the consequent work automation – which they can’t even imagine – will worsen the situation.
Thomas L. Friedman, the famous New York Times’ journalist, in his book “Thank You for Being Late” tells us a symbolic story: he knew about it while dealing with a National Geographic’s investigative report on agriculture in a Nigerian village in 2016. He was welcomed by a family made of women, old people and children; young and adult skilled men had all gone way. The cause was not diseases, but the fact that the land was too barren: men had migrated to other African countries or abroad to look for jobs. Everybody had told them that emigrating would be complicated and dangerous, but «when you don’t have enough money to buy even an aspirin for your sick mother, you don’t calculate the odds. You just go».
This is the situation that one of millions of young people, active part of the demographic growth percentages, will face.
A working-age boy will only need to look another way, at other African countries or at Europe, to find Italy, France, Spain, all countries known as world’s powers. It will be hard not to imagine crossing the sea, trying to reach one of those countries, which are richer, need migrants and offer more opportunities.
Boats and trucks full of migrants are the symbol linking two pieces of land, which are geographically so near, but culturally so distant.
In European countries, the situation is not so easy as people watching from far away can imagine: Germany, Spain, France, Italy joined the globalization’s banquet and earned something from it at the beginning, but then they suffered the first bad consequences. As a result, middle class people developed a strong discontent, when they saw their incomes decreasing. Inequality has worsened and that virtuous circle which worked so well some years ago has just stopped: for the first time, sons and daughters won’t live better than their parents, and parents are helping their children to stay afloat. They find it hard sometimes and they use up family’s savings.