The world population is going to increase while Europe is getting older and its populations are stagnating. The population growth is going to affect emerging countries, especially African countries.
According to demographers, the population of Africa is expected to reach more than 2 billion people by 2050. By 2030, the number of young Africans likely to enter the labour market will explode, especially in the sub-Saharan region. Experts call this ’demographic opportunity’.
Meanwhile, even if Africa can boast of some economic growth, it will clearly not be able to provide jobs and opportunities for tens or even hundreds of millions of young Africans. This could lead to social tensions, a generation in despair and it constitutes a major incentive to substantial emigration, partly to other neighbouring countries, due to the geographic proximity, to Europe. With this happening, Africa risks to lose the most motivated, dynamic and qualified part of its human capital.
Facing this central challenge, what response can be imagined by the Europeans?
Europe will have to choose between:
Either barricade itself with consequences easy to imagine in terms of violence and human tragedies such as we still see in the Mediterranean in relation to illegal immigration.
Or, use the opportunity of a selective immigration in responding to demographic aging of the European continent. Without doubt an adequate response, but probably with only marginal impact.
Or, lastly, actively participate in the realisation of a genuine Marshall plan for the African continent in order to effectively contribute to its economic take-off and allow to ensure that many more young people have future opportunities and perspectives in their countries.
This considerable challenge has high stakes and deserves specific consideration by the Parliamentary Assembly.