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Yaounde Declaration: Africa’s answer to stop the continent’s mass rural exodus

Representatives from over 30 African countries held discussion about Africa's plan to improve roads, provide education and energy in the rural areas

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In this photo taken June 20, 2016, pedestrians shop at a market in Lagos, Nigeria. Source-VOA
  • Experts from over 30 African countries met in Yaounde, Cameroon, for a Forum on Rural Development
  • During the week-long discussions, they devised a plan to control influx of African migrants taking long and perilous journey to Europe and the US, to find work
  • At the end of the discussions, Experts adopted, The Yaounde declaration, which calls for development in rural areas so that the African youth don’t have to make the dangerous trip to Europe for seeking employment

AFRICA, September 11, 2016: Representatives of 30 African countries have been working this week to map out ways to stop the continent’s mass rural exodus at the Forum on Rural Development in Yaounde.

Emmanuel Afessi works on his desktop at Odja center in Cameroon’s capital, Yaounde, where he is training 30 youths on information technologies at the center he created when he returned from the United States a year ago.

“Africa needs to produce its own knowledge, its own equipment and that is why we want to train people within the continent,” he said. “ICTs help close the gap between the developed and the developing world much faster than any technology including the motor vehicles. It is a large contributor to most African countries GDPs today. Think about just the whole aspects of internet and mobile phone. That is a huge multi-billion dollar market.”

The 33-year-old Afessi says he was unemployed and fled to Paris and then the United States, where he was denied refugee status. He says he could not find work and decided to return home, sell his father’s piece of land, and open the ICT center.

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Afessi was part of Africa’s rapidly growing population of emigrants. The U.N. Refugee Agency reports estimates this year nearly 47,000 migrants have reached Italy, the vast majority of them Sub-Saharan Africans.

A representative of Kenyan civil society organizations at the Forum on Rural Development, Vitalis Abbasi, says many of the migrants are highly educated, but unemployed and are traveling from rural areas in search of opportunities.

“If the roads were good, the energy systems were well, we could also access information and communication technologies, a lot of people will stay in those areas,” said Abbasi. “We could lift people up in those areas by pulling agriculture production up. So once people get a bit more money in their pockets, it is now easier for the rest of the economy to grow because when a lot of rural people have a bit more money in their pockets, even up to $2 per day average, they start consuming industrial goods, also manufacturing our own goods, rather than always depending on importing.”

Experts from 30 African countries adopted what they call the Yaounde declaration that invites Africa to invest more in the rural areas youths are deserting. They say Africa is losing its trained human capital if current trends continue.

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The head of program implementation at the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, Estherine Fotabong, says governments should have the political will to create enabling environments for the private sector and civil society groups.

“We still have the majority of Africans living in rural areas, despite the rapid urbanization rates and from different studies the projection is that up to 2035 that will still be the case,” said Fotabong. “We still have most Africans employed in agriculture and we still have lots of land in our rural areas, so why not invest in social amenities, in infrastructure, in better education systems, in industrialization in rural areas so that youths will not see any reason to leave the rural areas to go to the cities.”

The Yaounde declaration is accompanied by a call for action that requests African heads of state to support the implementation of an action plan being developed to stop Africans from having to make the dangerous trip to Europe. (VOA)

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Tanzania Refuses to Provide Detailed Information on Ebola Cases

Tanzania is refusing to provide detailed information on suspected Ebola cases, the World Health Organization (WHO) said, a rare public rebuke as the region struggles to contain an outbreak declared a global health emergency

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tanzania, africa, ebola, WHO
A child is vaccinated against Ebola in Beni, Democratic Republic of the Congo, July 13, 2019. VOA

Tanzania is refusing to provide detailed information on suspected Ebola cases, the World Health Organization (WHO) said, a rare public rebuke as the region struggles to contain an outbreak declared a global health emergency.

Transparency and speed are key to combating the deadly hemorrhagic fever because the disease can spread rapidly. Contacts of any potentially infected person must be quarantined and the public warned to step up precautions like hand washing.

WHO said in a statement released late Saturday that it was made aware Sept. 10 of the death of a patient in Dar es Salaam, and unofficially told the next day that the person tested positive for Ebola. The woman had died Sept. 8.

“Identified contacts of the deceased were unofficially reported to be quarantined in various sites in the country,” the statement said.

Unofficial information

WHO said it was unofficially told that Tanzania had two other possible Ebola cases. One had tested negative and there was no information on the other one.

tanzania, africa, ebola, WHO
Dar es Salaam and Morogoro, Tanzania map. VOA

Officially, the Tanzanian government said last weekend it had no confirmed or suspected cases of Ebola. The government did not address the death of the woman directly and did not provide any further information.

Despite several requests, “clinical data, results of the investigations, possible contacts and potential laboratory tests performed … have not been communicated to WHO,” the U.N. health agency said. “The limited available official information from Tanzanian authorities represents a challenge.”

Authorities in east and central Africa have been on high alert for possible spill-overs of Ebola from the Democratic Republic of Congo where a year-long outbreak has killed more than 2,000 people.

Last week the U.S. health secretary, Alex Azar criticized Tanzania for its failure to share information on the possible outbreak. The next day he dispatched a senior U.S. health official to Tanzania.

Quick response works

Uganda, which neighbors Congo, has recorded several cases after sick patients crossed the border. A quick government response there prevented the disease from spreading.

tanzania, africa, ebola, WHO
WHO said it was unofficially told that Tanzania had two other possible Ebola cases. One had tested negative and there was no information on the other one. Pixabay

The 34-year-old woman who died in Dar es Salaam had traveled to Uganda, according to a leaked internal WHO document circulated earlier this month. She showed signs of Ebola including headache, fever, rash, bloody diarrhea Aug. 10 and died Sept. 8.

Tanzania is heavily reliant on tourism and an outbreak of Ebola would likely lead to a dip in visitor numbers.

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The WHO statement is not the first time international organizations have queried information from the government of President John Magufuli, nicknamed The Bulldozer for his pugnacious ruling style.

Earlier this year both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund contradicted the government’s economic growth figure for 2018. (VOA)