Europe is ageing. Fertility rates are declining. Unemployment is rising at an alarming rate across the continent. The average age in parts of Europe is 40 plus and rising. A barbed wire has encircled the continent as borders become increasingly militarised and any porosity to migrants aggressively plugged. Non-EU migration particularly from Africa has been on decline for a while now.
Black male unemployment ratesfor under-25-year olds in the UK is roughly double that of their white counterparts at 56%. Find out more here. The youth riots of 2011 were said to be inspired by frustration and a lack of opportunity.
Even when it comes to starting businesses, access to capital from traditional sources such as banks and other financial institutions in a recession and post sub-prime debt world is at best difficult, and in many cases, well nigh impossible. Some of these barriers are perceived but many will testify to the reality of them.
As the rhetoric on immigration takes on a more assertive tone, the uneducated, unskilled, and undocumented will be pushed further to the margins of society. Those who are different by virtue of disability, colour or creed become more visible in an arena of declining resources, less cash and a swing towards a higher skilled, more knowledge based, and consequently more competitive and more restricted jobs market.
The economic wisdom suggest that policies will evolve to protect the pension pots of the ageing. The system will unfortunately not be able to protect individuals because there will simply not be enough young workers to pay taxes. Furthermore, if the pundits are to be believed, the ravages of capital markets will have eroded the value of savings to such an extent that many face a bleak and uncertain future.
When George Bush Snr talked of a new world order at the time of the first gulf war, he probably did not envisage a world where China was likely to become the preeminent force, nor did he foresee the alignment of southern hemisphere nations to create a bloc that would ultimately aspire to compete with the west in of all places Africa.
So with declining opportunities for jobs, the difficulty of raising cash to create new businesses, particularly high end unique businesses with the greatest chance of survival, a rapidly disenfranchised youth, would it be better for the African diaspora to create links with China and develop opportunities that could be offered to a rising Africa.
The video is in Dutch but many of the commentators are English speaking, so it is pretty easy to follow if you are prepared to persevere. It shows Africans from the continent in China pursuing business opportunities at an incredible rate. People starting businesses with $100 and turning over thousands shortly afterwards. We hear of $20-$30 million dollars being transferred between China and Nigeria a day! There is a vibrancy and energy which is hard to describe. The Africans there are entrepreneurial, flexible and incredibly adaptable. It doesn’t cover the failures but the sense of optimism is very clear.
So for the African diaspora in Western countries, is there a trick that is being missed? Is there an eastern dream that could be tapped into using the advantage of mobility, high-end skills and finance. Is this another way for the Western European African diaspora to participate in Africa’s rise?