Displacement and Migration: ‘Africa should be a clear priority’

Why the continent plays a key role and the nature of the involvement of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH there – interview with Albert Engel, Director of the Africa Department.


Mr Engel, both Africa and refugees are topics that currently rank high on the political agenda. Why is Africa so important in relation to flight and migration? What numbers of people are we talking about?

Africa is a clear priority for action in the areas of flight and migration. Some 4.5 million of the 21 million refugees around the world live in Africa, particularly in East Africa. To put that in context, Europe is home to around 2.1 million refugees. Then there are the internally displaced persons (IDPs) who have fled within their own country. In sub-Saharan Africa some 12 million people belong to this category, particularly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Somalia and Sudan. And an estimated 15 million international migrants – that is, individuals who have voluntarily left their home country, for example to find employment – live in sub-Saharan Africa alone.

Where does GIZ’s work start?

For several decades we have been working to ensure sustainable development in Africa. Many of the projects with which we have been involved are relevant to this field – they create a future for individuals within their own country. We are improving people’s life situations, for example through sustainable crop production or by providing training and creating prospects for employment. In Nigeria, for example, we focus strongly on young people, targeting continuing training for young men and women to help them find jobs in agriculture or the construction industry. In Niger, we support rural communities by making more land fit for cultivation. These measures help boost individuals’ incomes.

In concrete terms - what has been achieved so far?

Let us look at the example of Niger, where around 3,500 young people – including returning refugees and migrants – have found employment in agriculture, fisheries, the craft sector or the service sector. In total, around 1.5 million refugees in Africa benefitted from GIZ support from 2010 to 2015.

You can read the full interview on our focus ‘Displacement and Migration’.