7 Reasons Africans are Migrating Abroad on Do or Die


Most hardworking young Africans are desperate to leave the continent.  Osas, a hardworking Nigeria man, who became desperate and was ready to go through the dangerous desert to cross into Libya and then make his final journey into Europe is one of them. He has a skilled trade:cabinet making and upholstery until the idea to travel abroad came. His friend, Jacob had returned from Europe in  recent past with cars and money. Since working hard is all he does, the idea of traveling abroad to explore the chances of earning decent wages and making ends meet was tempting and irresistible.

But Osas is just one out of millions of Africans with similar idea. The numbers of Africans desperate to leave their countries, as we’ve learned in the recent Libyan migrants slavery cases, is on the rise. All the warnings and strategies of the government have not prevented people from traveling. Why would anyone be willing to risk a real danger and threat to life itself only to cross out of Africa into Europe? It worth exploring from an African perspective, and below are seven  sure reasons:

  • Poverty

Poverty is something the world cannot eradicate but reduce. And while most countries have been able to reduce theirs, the population of Africans living in poverty is increasing. A large population of Africans, most especially those from the sub-Sahara region is living in abject poverty. And it seems the government has done little or nothing to improve the standard of living of the populace.

It is pitiable that many live on $1.25 or less per day, which is not close to what someone on a legal minimum wage earns in the UK (£5.93). According to reports from World Bank in 2010, 48.5 percent of people from the Sub-Sahara African region are in this category. But another report from the Apex bank in 2017 stated that there was a modest growth of 2.4 percent.

There is hunger in the continent and a slow sign of improvement. Each government comes on board and makes tempting promises to deliver the dividends of democracy, which they hardly keep. To make things worse, the majority of these African migrants are graduates. They want to lead a better life which they know traveling abroad will make happen. Many cannot even boast of three square meals a day or afford luxuries like cars or good homes. They are disappointed and instead of taking to crimes, decide to leave in search of greener pastures abroad.

  • Low minimum wage/poor working condition

The high legal minimum wage offered abroad is driving African migrants crazy. Everyone is eager to have a taste of the pie – a handsome reward for their labor. An unskilled worker or those doing menial jobs believe they can earn more in a month working abroad than their counterparts and even those well-trained in their countries. A report of New Telegraph (2017) reveals that over 15,000 Nigerian doctors have gone overseas in search of greener pastures. The low minimum wage and poor working conditions are problems causing migrations that African leaders are yet to fix.

Minimum wage in the USA differs from state to state, with the least as $7.25 per hour. Convert this to Naira (Nigerian currency). It means with an 8 hours job daily, a worker will go home with 417,600 Naira at the end of the month – given that the exchange rate is still 360 naira to a dollar. It is the same situation in other African countries and could even be much higher in some.

  • Family pressure

It is surprising, but parents do pressure their children to travel abroad. For some, the reason is that they can’t continue with the responsibility of taking care of the child. Others are looking to enjoy the dividends of having someone abroad. Maybe their close friend or neighbor’s child has gone, and they can see the good stuff in terms remittances he or she sends to the parents. Most parents get jealous and pressure their children to take the trip. They can even go as far as to threaten them never to return empty-handed. Most of the Nigerian Libyan deportees, while recounting their ordeal, spoke of how they were pressured to travel abroad by their aunties, parents or close relatives. Some were even told never to return home if they don’t make it into Europe. Many opted for death instead of deportation because getting deported means their parents tagging  them as failures.

  • Lack of basic amenities and social welfare system

The lack of social amenities is another reason why people, especially youths are so desperate to leave the shores of Africa. Though many Africa countries have developed in this area, it is still nothing compared to the experience or the level of development overseas. These immigrants want to become a part of  societies that enjoy life: access to good road and transportation system, water supply, healthcare and more. Africa still suffers from the lack of  stable power (electricity) supply, and both citizens and foreign investors are facing the heat. Many firms bemoan over the high cost of doing business in Africa. They are forced to come with their own power generators, sewage treatment and water purification system when building their factories.

In addition, there is no public welfare systems to function as  cushion as there are abroad. When you fall either by losing your job, get sick, faced with one life emergency or another, or can’t just simply afford food,  you are on your own.

  • Corruption, oppression, and injustice

Corruption, oppression, and injustice are challenges many Africans are tired of seeing. Government budget billions for capital projects each year but hardly ever completes them all. Corruption has also brought the continent backward. Instead of the government to build hospitals, provide basic amenities and create more opportunities, they embezzle the money without question. Corrupt officers go unpunished. Citizens suffer a violation of their human rights in many ways. Many are even scared to live in the country they call their fatherland. We have heard of people held against their will for expressing themselves about the government, its cronies, or the elites.

  • Safety reasons

Most African countries like part of Nigeria, Sudan, South Sudan, and others have been torn apart by war and insurgencies. Thousands flee these countries for safety reasons. Many have died during the war and insurgency in these regions. Thousands of people flee from these troubled countries for safety reasons seeing that even the their government is helpless in most cases. Their best option thus is to seek safety abroad or run to neighboring countries where there is some expectation of peace.

  • Low job opportunities

There are opportunities in Africa, but not enough for the graduates they churn out every year. Thousands of students graduate from school with the hope of landing a good job but are faced with high competition from the little opportunity available. Industries that can create thousands of jobs have been closed down due to corruption and neglect on the path of the government.The lack of opportunities is one of the main reasons African migrants are leaving the continent. They believe there are opportunities abroad and that even menial jobs pay more than the white collar jobs in their countries.  

Wrapping it up

These are the seven reasons Africans are willing to leave the continent even if they lose their lives in the process. Thousands have fled already with more still  considering the thought of leaving. But can an African pass through the front door by exploring  legal means to achieve the  dream of moving abroad? The answer is sure YES. Get the right information and plan towards it.

Thanks for reading and please feel free to drop your comments below.

—– Clement Okperigho

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