Popular struggles for social justice in Africa are often couched in terms of demands for better governance, simply because the relegation of good governance structures and unfavourable conditions on the continent are the key factors fuelling migration and other ills such as the slave trade crisis in Libya.
President Hage Geingob, while addressing Cabinet for the last time this year, stressed the importance of good governance and a peaceful environment on the entire continent to end migration.
“There is slavery in Libya, what are we becoming to practice slavery in modern times? Why are they[migrants] running to Europe? All these issues answers the governance question and peace levels on the continent. The good governance that we are enjoying should not be taken for granted and we should maintain peace so that nobody can run away as a migrant,” said Geingob.
The President was extremely disappointed and visibly agitated that migration from Africa to Europe has resulted in the current slave trade crisis in Libya.
He also reiterated why Africans should be allowed to traverse the continent hassle-free, unlike the current setup where some Africans still require African nationals to acquire visas.
“We are part of Africa and the continent will suffer if we do not integrate on both the social and economic levels. As a Pan-Africanist I believe all African s must be free to go where they want to, Criminals must not stop us from doing so, and if they are they are there they must be dealt with because they must not be used as an excuse to harass others,” he said.
He added: “So we must choose, it is either we are part of Africa or not make up your mind.”
Namibia has started the process to abolish visa requirements for African passport holders.
If carried out, Namibia will be issuing African passport holders with visas on arrival at ports of entry as a first step towards the eventual abolition of all visa requirements for all Africans.
However, no deadline has been announced for the conclusion of the visa-free regime with all countries.
According to the Namibian Visa Policy, the Government of Namibia allows citizens of specific countries and territories to travel to Namibia for tourism or business purposes for three months with an ordinary passport, and diplomatic and service passports without having to obtain a visa. All visitors must hold a passport valid for six months.
UN steps in
The United Nations migration agency is stepping up the rate at which it flies migrants home from Libya, aiming to evacuate up to 15,000 during this month.
The acceleration of returns is an attempt to ease severe overcrowding in detention centres, where numbers swelled after boat departures for Italy from the smuggling hub of Sabratha were largely blocked this year.
It also followed a CNN report showing migrants being sold for slave labour in Libya, sparking an international outcry and calls for migrants to be given safe passage from the country.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has already flown back more than 14,500 migrants to their countries of origin so far this year as part of its voluntary returns programme. Nigeria, Guinea, Gambia, Mali and Senegal have seen the highest numbers of returns.
Migrant flows through Libya surged from 2014. More than 600,000 crossing the central Mediterranean to Italy over the past three years, but departures from Libya’s coast dropped sharply in July when armed groups in Sabratha began preventing boats from leaving.
After clashes in the western city in September, thousands of migrants who had been held near the coast surfaced and were transferred to detention centres under the nominal control of the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli.
Numbers in about 16 centres rose to nearly 20,000, from 5,000-7,000 previously, leading to a worsening of already poor conditions.
“We are seeing an increasing number of migrants wishing to return home especially after what happened in Sabratha, it’s all linked to Sabratha,” said Ashraf Hassan, head of the IOM returns programme.
In the aftermath of the CNN report and an African Union visit to Libya, some countries of origin have begun accepting charter flights returning migrants from Libya for the first time.
The IOM has shortened procedures for screening migrants Libya, collecting less statistical data and focussing on trying to ensure that migrants will not be put at risk by returning, Hassan said.
The agency hopes to have three charter flights leaving per day by Dec. 11, increasing that to five flights by Dec. 15.
On Tuesday nearly 400 migrants were flown back to Nigeria on two flights from Tripoli, the capital, and from the western city of Misrata.
Africa’s Governance challenges
To achieve structural transformation on the continent, Africa must look for homegrown solutions and learn from its own experience, participants at the 12th African Economic Conference (AEC) heard on Monday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
This, according to high-level speakers from the African Development Bank (AfDB), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), is key to unlocking Africa’s potential and advancing its prosperity.
The three agencies, therefore, pledged their readiness to support the continent’s pursuit of an African agenda for stronger democratic states and rapid structural transformation that positively impacts on human development.
In his official opening address, the Prime Minister of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn, advocated for strong democratic states with zero tolerance for corruption and mechanisms for wealth-sharing.
“Conferences such as this are important in order to learn from experience and adapt practices to each country’s socio-economic conditions. There are no specific policy templates that work everywhere,” he stressed.
Executive Secretary of ECA, Vera Songwe, called on leaders, economists and policy-makers to “look beyond the standard indicators of good governance.
“There is a growing consensus that African countries require a more conducive governance environment for them to be able to pursue better public policies and ultimately to achieve better outcomes, including structural transformation and inclusive development,” she said.
Célestin Monga, Vice-President, Economic Governance and Knowledge Management, at the African Development Bank, called for greater focus on addressing the economic loss caused by institutional inefficiencies and incompetence.
Monga stressed how corruption endangers economic growth, but pointed to the hidden loss due to lack of strong institutions, noting how difficult it is to address this when people are hungry.
“A lot of governance work has not been very helpful to Africa as it is often seen as a precondition,” Monga continued. “We cannot expect a country with US $300 GDP per capita to have the same governance system as a country with US $78,000. You cannot compare Burundi to Switzerland.”
This is why the AfDB is rethinking governance in Africa, Monga said, stressing that good governance is also about learning.
Experts agree that notwithstanding overall improvement in governance especially in human development and political participation, the African region’s performance still lags behind other regions and hampers the successful reorientation of its economic activities.
Co-organized by the AfDB, the UNDP and the UNECA under the theme “Governance for structural transformation”, this year’s conference focuses on the achievement of structural transformation in Africa with an emphasis on developmental governance.
About 500 researchers, policy-makers and development practitioners attended Day 1 of the conference.
The AEC provides an opportunity for participants to assess the impact of current economic and political governance strategies on economic transformation, poverty, inequality and human development in Africa.
Delivering the keynote address, Richard Joseph, John Evans Professor of International History and Politics at Northwestern University, underscored why bold policy interventions must emanate from Africa.
“In Africa, this is the time for relative autonomy in dealing with policy issues,” he said.
The AEC offers in-depth presentations of policy-oriented research by both established academics and emerging researchers from the continent and beyond, who debate and recommend policy options on how governance in Africa can better support the continent’s structural transformation.
Additional reporting by UN News Centre and trala