Last week, 39 Asian migrants hoping for a better life in the UK suffocated to death in a refrigerated truck.
If you were to hazard a guess, what would you say was the reason behind these 39 leaving their countries? Poverty? Job prospects? Economic progress? In the same week, the United Nations Development Programme released a study, ‘Scaling Fences: Voices of Irregular African Migrants to Europe’. Although this study focused on Africans, we can and should draw vital lessons on both issues.
The study has quashed a common misconception that African migrants leave their countries to escape poverty. It turns out, most of them are well-educated and with jobs in their home countries.
Their chief factors for migrating are closely tied to self-actualisation and a sense that their aspirations can only be fulfilled if they leave home.
This speaks to the feelings of most Kenyan youths. We are constantly disappointed by the quality of governance and services; we cannot help but dream of better days elsewhere.
The government also doesn’t offer adequate opportunities for socio-economic growth to motivate the youth to work hard for their country and grow the economy.
Instead, we look to ourselves to fulfil our aspirations. Where the government had promised to fund our goals, the money has been siphoned by leaders, leaving us depleted and wondering, why even bother? For those who get their aspirations off the ground, ahead is constant red tape, delayed payments and poor government support.
I will make this plea to the government: The study has recommended you create better incentives for the youth to stay at home. You cannot take for granted their innovation and ambition.
If our talents are going to remain and be used to grow this economy, recognise and reward them effectively with proper functioning systems.
It is ironic that our teachers are constantly gaining recognition abroad, yet the state of our education infrastructure is appalling in some areas.
How many more teachers would gain recognition if all systems were present and functional?
Trite as it may sound, we also cannot keep excluding the youth from national discussions that shape our future.
If we are not being heard and our opinion doesn’t count, we are not being personally fulfilled because the ongoing development is not catering to our needs.
Where, then, is the motivation for us to engage in transformative development in a country where we are not seen, let alone heard? Given the opportunity, many of us would leave to earn the recognition we deserve.
As the study recommended, build an inclusive economy that takes into account our highest demographic, and grant us quality economic opportunities that have the prospect of wealth creation.
It is good to offer economic opportunities, but if they are not of quality to sustain entrepreneurship or job creation for our fellow young people, migration and irregular migration will keep occurring. Let the ease of doing business be inclusive for our growth and that of the country.
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