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Proposal for a Marshall Plan with Africa by Wojciech Wilk

The second largest continent and home to 1.2 billion people, Africa lags far behind other parts of the world in terms of economic development. Its combined nominal gross domestic product  (GDP) of an estimated $2.2 trillion is lower than the figure for France alone. Measured by economic potential, individual countries of central Africa are comparable with Polish voivodships, or provinces. The nominal GDP of Poland, the world’s 23rd largest economy, equals that of 22 countries in central and southern Africa taken together – from Botswana to Ethiopia – populated by 500 million inhabitants.  Watched from the international perspective, the continent’s salient feature is its very rapid growth in population, which according to UN estimates will represent 39% of the world’s total (up from the present 16%)  by the year 2100.  Its absolute number will than stand at between 4 and 5 billion,[1] rising from 2.5 billion in 2050 and 820 million in 2000. The rampant natural increase in Africa – currently at up 2.5% a year, against a slight decrease (down 0.03% a year) in Europe[2] – is likely to continue for even two generations, much ahead of the continent’s economic and political developments.     


The most rapid increases are seen in countries of the desertification-threatened region of Sahel, from Mauretania to Sudan, where the fertility rate[3] ranges between 3 and 6 children per  woman (against 1.32 in Poland). In Niger, which counts among those worst-hit by climate change and desertification – with only 11% of territory that can be used as farmland, and just 0.5% on a continuous basis – the statistical woman gives birth to 5-6 children, notwithstanding the severe food shortages and poverty. In 2100, Niger’s population may reach 209 million, up from the present level of 20 million, which would represent a tenfold increase over 80 years. In Nigeria, the present population of 190 million is going to increase to 750 million by 2100, putting the country in the third place in the global ranking list. Some people may find such fast growth unimaginable, but we at the Polish Centre for International Aid (PCPM) can watch it on a daily basis. In a rural county-level hospital in Koboko, at the junction of Uganda, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, some 450 children are born every month, which compares with 420 births per month at one of Warsaw’s largest maternity clinics, at Żelazna Street (as of 2016).[4]

The fast population growth is among the major factors behind the low rate of per-capita GDP growth and, consequently, behind the slow pace of change in the population’s affluence levels and high poverty rates.  In Niger, the combination of average annual population growth at 3.81%[5] and GDP growth at 4.2%[6] means that in per-capita terms the country’s gross domestic product rose in 2017 by just 0.39%. Almost the entirety of economic growth in the country was thus consumed by population increase, preventing any perceptible improvement in the quality of life.


Table 1. Population growth projection to the year 2100, selected countries


Population (million)













20.6 (2016)






14.5 (2009)





Burkina Faso






























DR Congo

78 (2016)






41 (2016)





























*/ Countries whose present population exceeds the projection for 2020.

Source: „Population Growth Rate”, in: World Population Prospects 2017, United Nations

Population Division, https://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/Download/Standard/Population.

More to the south, in Nigeria, where the population expands at an annual rate of 2.58% (UN estimates), the economy in 2017 grew by just 0.8%, reflecting  an economic crisis, foreign exchange controls, chronic electricity shortages, and an armed conflict in the north-eastern part of the country. This means that the per-capita GDP in Africa’s most populous nation dropped in 2017 by 1.5%, pushing millions below the poverty line. According to Brookings Institution estimates for mid-2018, the absolute number of Nigerians living in extreme poverty – 87 million in a country of 190 million – exceeded the corresponding number for India (where the total population is 1.2 billion).[7] Unemployment and the “hope gap” are the main drivers of young Nigerians’ economic migration to EU countries. According to Frontex, the number of Nigerian immigrants reaching Italy rose by 48% in 2016–2017.

The high population growth usually outpaces job creation in national economies. In Kenya, e.g., the labour market is entered every year by around a million people, while the economy can only generate 200,000 new jobs – and this, despite a 5% GDP growth. This means that, every year, 800,000 young Kenyans fail to find a job or take part-time assignments or accept extremely low pay rates, which only deepens their poverty. The picture is equally bleak in other East African countries, even despite respectable growth rates – 8.5% in Ethiopia, 4.4% in Uganda, 6.5% in Tanzania – because their combined population (also including Kenya) is expected to double from the present 250 million to 500 million over the next 30 years. To prevent mass economic migrations, these economies will have to generate hundreds of millions of new jobs.

The tens of millions of workers entering Africa’s labour markets each year also represent an opportunity and a chance for faster economic growth, thanks to the so-called “demographic dividend,”  or a substantial surplus of working-age population (actively contributing to the country’s economic development) over the elderly and minors. The best returns from the demographic dividend can be expected in countries with successful birth-control policies, where huge working-age populations will finance lower spending on education and care of the younger generation.

The fast population growth in Africa also opens up enormous opportunities for selling to several billions of consumers. While African economies feature poor nominal GDP indices, they occupy much higher places in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP). For example, Nigeria comes 31st and South Africa 33rd in the nominal GDP ranking by the IMF, but in PPP terms they move to, respectively 24th (just after Poland) and 30th positions. Over the next several decades the African consumer market – for both goods and services – will surely be the world’s fastest growing. Price Waterhouse Coopers predicts that in 2050 Nigeria may be the planet’s 14th largest economy by PPP.[8] 

Climate change

The next challenge for Africa, after population growth, is posed by the consequences of global warming. Droughts caused by changing times and durations of wet  seasons are already getting more and more frequent. In countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia and Sudan – with no rivers or lakes to water farmland – occurrences of shorter or irregular rainfall mean that farmers lose all their crops.

Large parts of the continent are in danger of desertification, brought by rising temperatures (by even 5–7ᵒC to 2100) and changing rainfall patterns. Europe will be affected most strongly by climate changes in the Sahel – stretching from Senegal, through Mali, Niger and northern Nigeria, to Sudan – where by 2100, in worst-case scenarios, farm output will shrink by between 25% and 50%, with population trebling to 1.03 billion. In vast areas in Nigeria, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya and other central African countries, farm production is predicted to fall by even 25%, simultaneously with a growth in the region’s population to 2 billion by 2100. The countries hit by desertification and climate change will face enormous problems with producing adequate amounts of food and achieving food self-sufficiency, and their weak economies will be hard pressed to generate enough of hard currency for food purchases on international markets. The scale of these challenges is visualised by the plight of Egypt, which has to import 70% of grain needed to need its 100 million citizens. Desertification, drying wells and rivers, and shrinking arable land will result in an intensified competition for resources between tribes and political organisations, thus leading to increasingly frequent and brutal conflicts over land and even civil wars, with the attendant displacements of people and, potentially, millions of refugees. The consequences of such wars over water and arable land are already in place: the civil war in Darfur between Arab nomads and African farmers was sparked, in large part, by desertification, a southward movement of the Sahara, and the loss of grazing land by pastoralists. The Darfur conflict, already in its 15th year, has resulted in the displacement of 3 million Sudanese people. Very likely, the wars to be caused by climate change and competition for water and land among the fast rising Sahel population will produce millions-strong groups of refugees. Some of them may seek shelter and security in Europe, and the currently applicable international law puts the European Union under the obligation of receiving them.

Map 1. Projected changes in farm production to 2100 (with unchanged water resources and artificial-fertiliser consumption) 


Orange represents a fall in farm production by more than 25%; yellow – by between 5% and

25%; dark green – a projected increase by more than 25%. The fall in farm production in the Sahel may prove still more pronounced if water shortages exacerbate. In Poland, as a result of climate change, harvests may increase by more than 25% by 2050.

Source: “Climate Change Is Messing with Your Dinner, Bloomberg, 13 April 2018, www.bloomberg.com.

It is well-nigh impossible to accurately predict at present the effects of climate change in Africa’s individual regions. While most food production scenarios for the continent are pessimistic, some scenarios in IPCC projections allow for an increase in precipitation in the Sahel, as compared with 2000 – to be coupled with decreases by more than 10% in West Africa (Senegal, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire) and Southern Africa, behind the Congo basin. Africa will not escape the challenges posed by climate change, even if it is not yet known where these challenges will be the most punishing.


Table 2. Projected populations of the world’s largest cities by 2100


Population (million)





Mumbai (India)

18.4 (2011)




Kolkata (India)

14.1 (2011)




Delhi (India)

16.7 (2011)




Tokyo (Japan)

38.3 (2016)




Dhaka (Bangladesh)

14.4 (2013)




Sao Paulo (Brazil)

21 (2017)




Mexico City (Mexico)

20.9 (2015)




New York (USA)

20.3 (2017)




Cairo (Egypt)

18.2 (2017)




Dar es Salaam (Tanzania)





Kinshasa (DR Congo)

11.8 (2017)




Khartoum (Sudan)

5.2 (2014)




Lagos (Nigeria)

16 (2017)




Nairobi (Kenya)





* Cities where the present population is higher than the forecast for 2025.

Source: D. Hoornweg, K. Pope, Population predictions of the 101 largest cities in the 21st century,

Global Cities Institute, Working Paper No. 4.

With most African countries seeing their populations grow several times over, and given that most people will find it impossible to make their living off agriculture, there is going to be an acceleration in migrations, both internationally and internally (country-to-town).  Dire conditions and chaos are already the reality of African cities. Most of Addis Ababa, where urban planning is non-existent, comprises poverty districts criss-crossed by multiple-lane motorways. The Cairo metropolitan area is currently inhabited by 20 million people, with housing developments squeezing out Egypt’s increasingly scarce commodity, farmland. In Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, where most people use deep water wells – in the absence of water-supply and sewerage systems – the dry season is the time of water shortages. Problems with urban planning, public transport, water shortages and air pollution will be among the biggest developmental challenges for the continent. The population of Nigeria’s largest city, Lagos, at 8 million at present, may grow to reach 88 million at the end of the century, when many other African cities are also expected to top the 50 million mark (Cairo, Khartoum, Kinshasa, Dar es Salaam).[9]

The world in 2100 

How will the world and European policies look like in 2100? Assuming a continuation of the present economic and demographic trends, Europe will be a continent with a greying population – either stagnant or shrinking. The  eastern part of the EU and the former Soviet countries will be depopulating fast, and the sight of desolated villages or towns falling into oblivion will be increasingly common there. Compared to many regions in Africa, the Nordic countries, Poland, Lithuania or Ukraine will be populated less densely, but with higher affluence levels. In 2100, population density in Nigeria (7.3 million sq. km and 752 million people) will be 50% higher than in Poland (318,000 sq. km and a projected 22 million people).

The climate change will produce better conditions for agriculture in the northern parts of Europe – Poland is already becoming a wine producer – but the Mediterranean will see a decline in farm production, coupled with heat waves and forest fires. Reliance on machinery and robotics in the EU economies will further grow, thus helping to overcome the shortage of labour and cut down the demand for unskilled workers.

Compared to Europe, African in 2100 will be overpopulated and dramatically poor. In regions hit by climate change, wars over land and water will produce successive waves of refugees. With no job opportunities locally, hundreds of millions of young people will seek their fortunes in migration – to giant cities, such as Lagos, Khartoum and Nairobi, or farther still, to Europe and the Middle East. But given their low education levels, these migrants will face huge problems with finding jobs in highly developed economies outside of their continent. Europe will be a destination for hunger- and civil war-driven refugees. It is likely that there will be more areas such as Niger, where entire social groups suffer chronic hunger and where climate change-affected farm production lags behind fast population growth.


Only members of the elite – graduates of accredited universities – will have the door open to employment in sectors requiring high technological and organisational skills, whether in Africa or outside the continent. All others, just as is the case today, will be doomed to low wages in weak economies and a life in poverty, with no hope for a better future.

A Marshall Plan with Africa

Economic and development assistance to Africa is thus no longer confined to altruistic activity motivated by colonial past or driven by commitments made at the UN forum. Without new jobs and real employment opportunities for the continent’s fast rising population, millions of young people will perceive migration to Europe or other affluent regions as the only chance for improvement in their lives. It will not be possible for these billions of new labourers to be absorbed by climate change-affected agriculture. A much stronger job creation will be needed in the private sector – especially in manufacturing and services – in order to beef up these countries’ economic development and prevent public discontent, which might  lead to radicalisation, acts of ethnicity- and religion-driven violence, and revolutions undermining economic and political stability.

The European Union has the strategic, political, social and economic motive in ensuring that the new African generations find employment and chances for a decent life in their own countries. It also has the financial and political means to support such processes, at least in some countries of the continent’s northern part.

The outline of a new Marshall Plan with Africa is already emerging. Back in January  2017, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) produced the document Africa and Europe – A new partnership for development, peace and a better future: Cornerstones of a Marshall Plan with Africa,[10] in which the German government  proposes that such a plan rest on three major pillars:

1. Economic activity, trade and employment

2. Peace, security and stability

3. Democracy, rule of law and human rights.

The German proposal also lists four foundations of the plan, which are: a) food and agriculture; b) protection of natural resources; c) energy and infrastructure; and d) health, education and social protection. But what the document outlines is not so much European as rather German policy towards the challenges facing the African continent. While not sufficing to strategically resolve problems such as population growth many times over, and a potentially fast depletion of resources (especially land and water), the German proposal is undoubtedly a step in the right direction. Based on this document Berlin introduced tax breaks for the German private investors contributing to job creation in Africa.  A Polish, and still more a European proposal for a Marshall Plan with Africa should place emphasis on developing and implementing a programme that would help solve Africa’s most acute economic and social problems, and thus lessen the migration pressure. The adopted strategy should not only provide for activities and investments by national governments – which, in view of their financial and organisational weakness, are unable  to meet the challenges posed by fast population growth – but should also leverage the enormous investment potential of private capital, both local and international.

The Marshall Plan with Africa could be founded on four pillars, to which I will refer as priority vectors.

Priority vector


Priority vector I

Job creation:

1. Energy sources and telecommunication:

a) development of energy sources

b) electrification

c) telecommunication and banking.

2. Development of transport networks, trade support:

a) routes inside Africa, especially east-west and north-south

b) changing Africa’s position in international trade exchanges.

3. Direct support for job creation, especially in manufacturing:

a) providing incentives to domestic investments

b) strengthening capital markets, creating a pan-African stock exchange

c) providing incentives to investors from EU countries.

4. Adjusting the educational system to the actual requirements of the labour market:

a) creating a system of legal migration, as a form of motivation and an alternative to illegal migration.

Priority vector II

Environment protection and food self-sufficiency:

1. Preventing the consequences of climate change and desertification:

a) preventing natural disasters.

2. Preventing environmental degradation:

a) preventing water and air pollution

b) urban and rural planning.

3. Development of the agricultural sector.

Priority vector III

Good governance:

1. Democratisation and human rights.

2. The rule of law, fight against corruption and organised crime.

3. Bringing down the high rates of population growth.

Priority vector IV

Implementing the Marshall Plan with Africa:

1. Financing from governments and international institutions.

2. Ways of supporting African states participating in the programme.

3. Monitoring, evaluation and adjustment to new challenges.

Priority vector I: Job creation

1. Energy sources and telecommunications 

Any visitor to sub-Saharan Africa staying there for just a couple of days has experienced blackouts. Larger companies and hotels usually operate backup generators, but for smaller-scale firms power cuts usually translate into production downtime. Among Africa’s key economies, the worst energy landscape is in Nigeria, where as many as 83% of businesspeople name electricity shortages as the biggest drag on output, reducing their sales by no less than 7%. Power cuts in Nigeria – which on average last 8 hours a day and 239 hours a month – are largely caused by shutdowns of gas-fuelled power stations, due to factors such as lack of maintenance investments and plant repair, failure to pay suppliers, or pipeline disruption by armed groups.[11] In 2008, the Energy Commission of Nigeria projected the country’s electricity requirements in 2030 at 119 GW, assuming a 7% annual economic growth rate. The actual  output in 2015 was a mere 4 GW,  or just a third of the capacity of Nigerian power stations.[12] For comparison, the combined generating capacity of Polish power plants in 2018 amounted to 40 GW.

The absence of new investments and regular maintenance at power plants, and failure to adjust capacity to the growing demand for energy, has brought about an energy catastrophe in Zimbabwe, where   power cuts in the capital, Harare, usually take from 06:00 to 22:00 hrs.  The same factors underpin the mounting energy crisis in South Africa, the second largest economy in the sub-Saharan part of the continent. The picture is still worse in other countries, where in the absence of power plants and transmission lines only the largest cities are hooked to the electricity grid.

1a. Development of energy sources

To create non-agricultural jobs, production and service establishments must have regular access to electricity. Often this does not have to be high-power, high-voltage supply –  and small solar-driven dispersed-generation systems  (unconnected to the grid) will do. In more advanced African countries, in a push to narrow the gap between consumer and industrial demand on the one hand and power plants’ capacity on the other, emphasis is placed on improved maintenance and modernisation of the existing generating facilities. In countries affected by a shortage of funds due to users’ failure to pay their electricity bills, pre-paid bills will have to be introduced, to be paid by electronic means, e.g. using smartphones. Such bills have proved their worth in, e.g., Kenya and Turkey. As much as possible, Africa’s new power plants should rely on local resources rather than gas and oil imports, which frequently form the largest trade deficit item.  Africa’s potential to generate solar and geothermal energy is the largest of all continents. In Kenya one-third of electricity generation comes from geothermal sources, and in Nigeria the Olkaria-volcano region alone (50 km west of Nairobi) has the potential to generate 2GW of electricity. 

Another priority in this field should be the construction of refineries to produce petrol and asphalt (for road construction). Most African countries have oil deposits but in the absence of refining capacities they are forced to import petrol and fuel oil.  For example, the north-western part of Sudan – where we, the PCPM, are present – lies on huge deposits of crude oil, and it often happens that drillers for water find oil instead. But in the absence of any power plants and refineries, the country must import petrol from Uganda and Sudan, which has pushed up the price to even $2 per litre – twice as high as in Kenya and 50% more than in Poland.

1b. Electrification

The expansion of generating capacity must go hand in hand with a costly construction of transmission systems, to reach African countries’ rural outbacks. A number of landlocked  countries, including Chad, South Sudan, the Central African Republic and a larger part of DR Congo, have no transmission networks at all. Priority should be given to building connectors between energy systems in neighbouring countries, thus making possible for-profit sales of surpluses to deficit-ridden markets. Job creation is the key to curbing migration – both internal (from country to shanty towns in metropolitan areas) and international – but this will require expanding the networks of electricity transmission and asphalt-covered roads into the interior, to enable the emergence of smaller production and servicing centres there. The construction of power stations and transmission lines being far beyond the reach of African countries, support will be needed from the world’s largest economies, through grants, loans and build-operate projects  (e.g. by European companies).

Map 2. Electricity transmission lines in sub-Saharan Africa, represented by continuous lines. (The dotted lines show high-voltage lines planned to be built in – usually distant – future.)


Source: Ch.K. Arderne, “Mapping Africa’s energy infrastructure: open data lights the way”, The

World Bank. The Data Blog, 18 May 2017, https://blogs.worldbank.org.

1c. Telecommunications and banking

Unlike energy lines, the networks of mobile telephony are fairly well developed in most African states, built from scratch by private companies. Mobile access to the internet is available even in the interior of the continent’s poorest countries. The Marshall Plan with Africa should urge governments to provide conditions for the operation of foreign banks (African and international) and for launching by-phone payments, similar to Kenya’s M-Pesa which is accepted in almost every shop and which can also be used to pay for electricity bills. One example of a country with a poorly developed network of banks is Ethiopia, reflecting its protectionist policies.  The launch of mobile banking and mobile payments will give villagers better access to capital, fast money transfers, and a more just distribution of the fruits of economic growth. With the bank account accessible by mobile phone, it will be possible to more effectively fight corruption, provide social welfare services to rural inhabitants, and more swiftly disburse benefits and support for those affected by natural calamities – triggered by factors which include climate change (droughts, floods).

2. Development of transport networks, trade support

2a. Routes inside Africa, especially east-west and north-south 

Next to corruption and crime, the biggest barrier to the expansion of African trade comes from poorly developed transport networks. Most of the existing connections were built back in the colonial times. These are roads and railway lines to major seaports, such as Mombasa in Kenya, Lagos in Nigeria and Abidjan in Côte d'Ivoire. Most of the dilapidated railways have not been repaired for decades and are barely suitable for use. In most countries, the road networks remain not adjusted to the fast rising lorry traffic, which results in very frequent accidents. In Nigeria, for example, many families ahead of a long journey split into two groups riding different vehicles, to ensure that at least half of them survive.

The condition of African roads is bad. Most of the lines marked on the continent’s maps are dirt roads, worn-out by lorry traffic and unpassable in the rainy season. The Democratic Republic of the Congo, for example, with an area larger than half the territory of the European Union, has only 58,000 km of roads, of which just 5% (2,900 km) are asphalt-covered.[13] There is not a single asphalt road in the country to link its eastern and western provinces, which weakens government control, encourages separatist movements and poses a major barrier to trade. In countries such as Mali, Niger, Chad and the Central African Republic,  the network of asphalt roads is usually limited to main thoroughfares in the capital city plus several connections between the largest cities. In the least developed countries, including DC Congo, the CAR and South Sudan, there may be asphalt roads, but with no bridges. Swollen in the wet season, overflowing rivers block trade for many months, living vast expanses of land cut off from one another. In the dry season, drivers aim for fords, where they can cross the river over its dry bottom.

The condition of roads linking individual countries in a connected network is equally poor. With so many development requirements, roads leading to the border are not a priority. Kenya and Uganda, with a combined population approaching 91 million, have only one border crossing that is accessible from both sides by asphalt road. And until this year the 400 km long road linking Nairobi with the Ethiopian border was without an asphalt top layer, the dedicated World Bank funds’ having been defrauded by corrupt officials. 

The African Union, working with the UN, has come up with a proposal for pan-African roads linking different corners of the continent. These roads remain on paper until today, and African still does not have a single coast-to-coast asphalt road.

Building cross-border road – and, subsequently, railway – connections should be a priority for the Marshall Plan with Africa. This is especially important with regard to roads linking the continent’s east and west, which would drive trans-African trade and widen markets for countries expanding their industrial base.

The network of cross-border roads in Africa should also include north-south routes. The existing roads south of the Sahara (e.g. between Cameroon and the Congo) and, e.g., along the west coast, between Dakar  and Abidjan,  have enormous economic potential, but they might soon be surpassed in terms of traffic volumes by Sahara-crossing roads, such as the African Union-proposed routes from Egypt to Sudan, Libya and Chad, and between Algeria and Niger.

Unlike energy infrastructure, refineries and industrial grids – which could in large part be built on commercial terms – the construction of roads requires traditional financial instruments, such as loans and grants. But, given the high degree of corruption in many countries, contractor selection, disbursements and project oversight should be allowed to stay with the financing organisation. Such model was applied, e.g., in the construction of fast urban roads, co-financed by the European Union, which greatly helped to reduce epic traffic jams in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

2b. Changing Africa’s position in international trade exchanges

A major challenge facing Africa, one which its development strategy must surely address, is to change the position of African countries in the international value added chain. What these countries produce at present are almost exclusively raw materials, minerals and agricultural products. Those processing these commodities and creaming off the bulk of value added – oil refineries, chipmakers using rare earths, or coffee roasting companies – are located outside the continent. The African mine stakeholders and farmers receive only a small fraction of the revenue generated by sale of processed goods. Fair trade, offering higher profit shares for local producers of coffee, tea or fruit, has already received backing from NGOs, but the key goal globally will be to move to Africa as much of processing capacities as possible. For Africa to reach the strategic goal of creating hundreds of millions of new jobs, the  continent must become a manufacturing centre much in the same way as China and Southeast Asia have become today. 

3. Direct support for job creation, especially in manufacturing:

3a. providing incentives to domestic investments (within African countries)

Development assistance  sent to Africa has been a two-pronged process.  On the hand, the World Bank, the African Development Bank and other donors, including China, provide financing for large infrastructure projects, such as hydropower stations or sections of railway lines linking, e.g., Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa with the Djibouti port. On the other, non-governmental organisations carry out projects that change the lives of individual small communities.

But the most important element of the Marshall Plan with Africa should be placed in-between these two lines of action, with the goal of supporting non-farm job creation and thus lessening the unemployment-induced migration pressure.

The new jobs should be created primarily by the local business community, who should be the main beneficiaries of the programme. All other measures to be taken under this strategy should be targeted at removing barriers to economic activity, by upgrading the business environment, improving infrastructure, and streamlining the complex and corrupt bureaucracy. If companies are to be able to grow and create new jobs, they have to be provided with access to a transport network, electricity and sufficient amounts of water, while their employees should have access to adequate housing, schools and health care. Such support may take the form of building industrial zones, or even providing the infrastructural base for new districts and entire cities, to absorb millions of job-seekers.

This line of activity has already received support from Poland. With funds provided by the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the PCMP Foundation runs Kenya’s largest programme for fire fighters’ training and development. In the period since 2014, Polish instructors have trained nearly a half of Kenya’s firefighting force, contributing to a radical improvement in fire protection on 40% of the country’s territory. Newly established fire brigades – some of them with Polish-financed fire engines – act like a magnet to draw tens of companies with hundreds of jobs. Fire fighters’ presence reduces the costs and the risk of industrial operations, thus providing an incentive for local investments.

New jobs should be created primarily by local capital. In most African countries, stock exchanges are either non-existent or very weak, and the affluent invest their assets in real estate (which pays off well, given the fast population increase and shortage of land) or transfer them abroad. Without rerouting this rising flow of African elites’ money towards their economies, no assistance plan will ever succeed. One way of creating a strong capital market would be to merge stock exchanges in several countries – or even in the whole continent – into a single one, capable of attracting local elites and international investors.

As previously mentioned, in size-of-the-economy terms, most Africa countries are comparable with Polish voivodships. These countries do not have enough private and public capital to finance industrial plant construction and job creation. And European investors, faced with a combination of high risks  (corruption, high tariffs and taxes, costly transport services and political instability) and moderate returns, turn their attention to opportunities in advanced countries, where they do not have to grapple with a hostile legal and political system and widespread corruption, from customs offices to central authorities. Only a system of incentives and guarantees by the EU or member state governments – facilitating company establishment and operations – could prod European businesses to invest and create jobs in Africa.  Under such a system, investors  would be refunded for at least part of outlays if their project were not carried to fruition due to administrative or political obstacles in Africa. 

4. Adjusting the educational system to the actual requirements of the labour market:

An oversized public sector (compared to national economic potential) – comprising the military, police, security and civil servants – already absorbs some 80% of the central budgets in many African countries, e.g., Uganda, Zimbabwe and South Sudan. In a retrenchment effort, these countries tend to cut spending on education and health protection, which only undermines the future of coming generations and their chances in an increasingly globalised world. In countries such as Niger, Chad and Sudan, most children end their education at the primary level, with skills usually confined to writing in the local (often tribal) language and rudimentary mathematics. Without the command of an international language and with no occupational qualifications, they have problems with findings jobs locally, let alone in advanced countries’ markets. Companies and NOGs often find it extremely difficult to find competent staff on the spot, because the bulk of applicants do not possess any of the required skills.

4a. Creating a system of legal migration, as a form of motivation and an alternative to illegal migration.

Paradoxically, a reform of the educational system in Africa is linked to Europe’s migration policy. If the European Union put in place a system of legal migration for workers with adequate skills, meeting European standards, then education in African would receive a powerful incentive to develop at a fast pace, and – if this were fine-tuned to the requirements of the European labour market – an alternative would be provided  to illegal migration. In other words,  permitting organised and legal economic migration to the European Union will be instrumental in countering illegal migration along the south-north axis.

Priority Vector II: Environment and food self-sufficiency  

Here, the goal would be to support countries in limiting the impact made on the environment by the fast rising population and by the climate change. In particular, the focus should be on preventing a migration pressure that would be caused by food and water shortages and environmental degradation.

1. Preventing the consequences of climate change and desertification:

1a. Preventing natural disasters.

While climate change is becoming more and more evident, scientists are still uncertain about its present and future consequences for Africa. For example, projections for climate-change impact on crop levels in the Sahel – the most important region from the viewpoint of migrations into the EU – range from a fall by 25-50% and an increase of 25%. In East Africa, researchers are looking into El Nino/La Nina-caused changes in precipitation times and levels, but it is still too early to draw definitive conclusions.

If climate change is quickly identified and countered, its consequences can be diminished. For example, the war in Sudan’s Darfur province – triggered by desertification and rivalry for water and grazing land – could have been much less brutal if water sources had been built to tap ground water under surface and provide it to pastoralists and their herds. Underground rivers, identifiable by computer software created to search for oil deposits, are large enough to supply large numbers of wells in the desert – but a water-well capacity must be carefully calculated, not to cause the resources to dry up. Another method with which to combat desertification is building dams that extend far into the underground, thus making it possible to store the water which in dry season flows below the riverbed.  The PCPM designed such a dam as part of a pilot project for South Sudan, but that was before the outbreak of the civil war in 2013. In combating the consequences of climate change and desertification, the key element should be to support agricultural reforms that seek to switch away from rainfall-dependent crops towards intensive farming based on irrigation (more on this below, under point 3). Within this priority line, steps should be taken to prevent natural calamities, and particularly floods, which have been occurring ever more frequently during the rainy season. Some of these disasters are predictable and their destructive consequences can be mitigated, e.g., by restricting development in areas subject to recurrent flooding and by installing early warning systems. The PCPM Foundation, using funds provided by the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has helped improve flood rescue mechanisms in Kenya, and currently – working with the authorities in several regions – is developing crisis management plans.

2. Preventing environmental degradation

The governments and publics in Africa will have to come to the conclusion that has already been reached in Europe: water, air and other parts of the environment are not unlimited and should be adequately protected. Unless sewage treatment facilities are provided, the urban population will have to get water from ever deeper wells, thus only worsening the water deficit in more and more populous cities. Similarly, people in rural areas will have to abandon plundering the environment. Fishermen operating in Lake Victoria and other great lakes complain of diminishing catches, while in southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya, enormous herds have contributed to overgrazing and desertification. According to PCPM estimates, the savanna in southern Ethiopia along the Kenyan border may turn into a desert in 20 years’ time, thus forcing inhabitants to flee. The migration of millions of pastoralists – their property lost due to desertification – could become a powerful driver of destabilisation in East Africa.[14] The problem is by no means unsolvable. It will suffice to limit the grazing area and set aside part of the land for two-year re-cultivation. But people on the Kenya-Ethiopia border, who have for centuries lived off pastoralism, regard the entire land as common property and rule out restricting access to its parts.

2a. Water and air pollution 

The projected increase in Africa’s population – by 2.8 billion over 80 years – is bound to do much harm to the environment, already exposed to climate change. In most African cities, none of which has sufficient treatment facilities, rivers have already been turned into sewage canals. The smog in African capitals increasingly comes from old-age cars stuck in a traffic jam – and not from industrial plant. To avoid an environmental disaster, African mega-cities will have to embark on large-scale investment projects in water-supply/sewerage networks  and public transport. So far it has been the province of the private sector – transport firms operating water-carts (to service districts without water-supply facilities) and 13-person minibuses that substitute for the non-existent public transport sector – but this approach will prove insufficient in 80 years’ time, when Lagos and Nairobi are expected to have 88 million and 46 million residents, respectively. The disastrous impact  on the environment, made by such giant centres of human settlement, will be felt in areas lying hundreds of kilometres away. Rivers flowing into the Indian Ocean, for example,  are already being contaminated by untreated sewage effluents from Nairobi. 

2b. Urban and rural planning 

Unbelievable as it may be, shortages of land pose increasingly acute problems in many parts of Africa, whether around the largest urban centres – land prices in suburban Nairobi are already higher than in Poland – or  in overpopulated rural districts in countries such as Nigeria and Uganda. Farmers there face the same dilemma as Polish villagers do: should they be dividing land into smaller and smaller plots, too small to ensure subsistence, or perhaps they should force successive generations to migrate to cities.

Migrants from the countryside increase the population of poverty-ridden townships, which are ruled by gangs and stay outside the control of the police and city authorities.  Land reserves for road system expansion are being taken for house construction purposes, thus preventing roads from being built and confining residents to still greater congestion. The European Union’s representation office in downtown Nairobi opens at 07:00, because at later hour traffic jams would prevent employees from reaching their workplace. Tramways, of which Poland is the world’s biggest producer, would offer an ideal solution for this and many other Africa cities.

To change this sorry picture, adequate land-use planning is needed, along with tough enforcement of building authorities’ instructions. Examples from South Africa demonstrate how new districts can look like. Soweto, known as Johannesburg’s shanty town, is actually a well-planned city area with a network of roads, schools and health centres. Changes to its previous look were triggered by a public housing programme, under which the minimum size of housing lots – previously at 6x6 metres – was increased, to enable building much larger council houses. Similarly in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, the poor live in so-called high-density districts, which are well-planned, with the minimum lot size at 200 sq. m. This compares with the average lot size of just 16 sq. m. (4x4)  in Kibera, Nairobi’s slum of one million, where houses occupy the entire lot and butt up against each other. Consequently, when a fire breaks out, the whole district is destroyed, with dozens of families left without a roof over their heads.

Land-use planning should be extended to cover rural areas as well, which would allow a controlled development of, both,  the largest metropolitan areas and smaller urban centres, with enough space for new roads, transport routes and areas of protected nature.

3. Development of the agricultural sector

The trebling of Africa’s population over the coming 80 years will only deepen today’s food crises. This is especially true of countries in the Sahel, where an extensive pattern of farming makes the sector dependant on changing rainfall periods, and exposed to protracted droughts (South Sudan, Ethiopia). Given their mounting overpopulation, countries such as Ethiopia and Niger already generate economic out-migration, and this trend is going to strengthen in step with continued population growth and decreases in farmland. In successive decades, chances for a food output comparable with the demand from fast rising population will only be had by countries with intensive patterns of agricultural production, in regions irrigated by big rivers. In the proposed strategy for Africa, priority treatment should be accorded to the construction of irrigation systems in the valleys of the Niger, the Nile and the continent’s other big rivers, and to the development of systems promoting intense, mechanised agricultural production. This will represent an enormous social and cultural change in countries of sub-Saharan Africa, where farm production so far has involved small family plots, worked with simple, manually-operated tools, without using ploughs or tractors. In 2100, it will not be possible to bring sufficient amounts of food to the continent, given the enormous size of the population and, very likely, the inability of national economies to generate enough hard currency to buy on international markets. Unless people in these countries produce sufficient amounts of food, hunger will force them to migrate to urban centres and abroad. 

Priority Vector III: Good governance

1. Democratisation and human rights 

The linkage between potential support for Africa’s economic development on the one hand and  democratisation, the rule of law and human rights, on the other – as emphasised in the German proposal – is of major importance for European debate. The question that the European Union must ask itself, and answer, is about the extent to which  economic assistance – seeking to control migratory movements – may and should be linked to democratisation. Can we afford exempting from this process Algeria and Egypt, whose governments have been increasingly falling short of democratic standards? Very likely, we can’t. Therefore, in the part on implementation of the Marshall Plan with Africa, I propose to diversify the level of support, and apply criteria that favour genuinely democratic countries, ruled by law and taking a serious approach to cracking down on corruption.

2. The rule of law and fight against corruption

There can be no doubt that the rule of law and a genuine crackdown on corruption at every level should be a sine qua non condition for a country’s presence in the Africa assistance strategy. The official aid resources and private investments – amounting to even 5% GDP –  should be properly protected if they are to be put to effective uses and if a favourable investment climate is to be created for private and public players. The key elements are an independent and fair judiciary, and war on corruption among politicians and civil servants. There must be no tolerance for situations such as a recent one in Kenya, where a provincial governor bought 20 houses worth a combined $2 million during his first 10 months in office. After a short period in custody, he was allowed to leave the country, and once he comes back he will be brought not before court but before a parliamentary commission, to be examined by other politicians.  Thus, the  level of support under the Marshall Plan with Africa must be linked to the quality of governance (rule of law) and fight against corruption; and in the absence of cooperation from government, assistance should be suspended. 

3. Bringing down the high rates of population growth

Support for measures to curb high population growth, even if controversial, is  very likely an unavoidable part the Africa assistance strategy. Economically, the main indicator  of its effectiveness will be a given country’s per-capita GDP in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP). Just as today, the prospect of increased affluence of the population and a lessening of migration pressures – expected to be driven by economic growth – may be vitiated by a fast increase in birth numbers. Policies encouraging people to cut down on birth rates have already been launched in, e.g., Egypt and Ethiopia, and there is no reason why they should not be followed in countries such as Mali and Niger, with child-woman ratios of above 5.

Priority Vector IV: Implementing the Marshall Plan with Africa:

1. Financing from governments and international institutions 

EU member states should find an answer to the question of whether the Africa assistance strategy is to be a Europe-only project, or perhaps it should involve the world’s most affluent nations, e.g.,  those in the G8 club, especially the U.S., plus financial contributions from China and, e.g., the World Bank. The participation of the United States, the world’s second largest humanitarian aid donor, and China, a major provider of investment capital to Africa, would help maximise the effects of the strategy. If other countries and international institutions join the effort, their participation in key decision-making might be linked to the level of their support, as is now the case, e.g., at the World Bank.

2. Ways of supporting African states participating in the programme

In a short period of several decades, the job of making up for developmental delays in Africa – which in many countries have only deepened over the past 50 years or so – will require huge resources indeed. The starting level should at least be commensurate with the growth rate of the population, to ensure that its affluence, as measured, e.g., by  the per-capita GDP (PPP), increases at an accelerating pace.  The aggregate goals of the Marshall Plan with Africa  will have to be broken down into strategies for each participating country, whose implementation would then be closely monitored and evaluated.

The development assistance provided under the plan will contribute to several financial flows, including:

a) direct budget support for countries meeting the requirements of strict discipline of public finances, the rule of law, fight against corruption, etc., to be channelled to projects compliant with the national strategy drawn up for the country in question;

b) preferential loans;

c) investments financed directly as part of strategy implementation, with the implementing entities having discretion to choose suppliers and oversee the project;

d) private investments;

e) financial and tax incentives to private investors.

The strategy should provide for much stronger support in combatting the extremist and criminal groups that pose threats to local population and to African countries’ stability.

The level of this support should be linked to a number of factors, including:

a) the development level, with the lowest income-countries receiving the largest support;

b) a country’s weight in international migration movements;

c) successes with democratisation and respect for human rights;

d) the rule of law, and its quality;

e) level of corruption  and measures to combat it;

f)  improvement in the investment climate for local and foreign investors;

g) cooperation from government, and effectiveness in spending Marshall Plan with Africa resources assigned to a country in question.

In the present writer’s opinion, for the strategic goals to be attained – while not generating an excessive inflationary pressure – assistance within the Marshall Plan with Africa should equal between 0.1% and 5% of GDP in a given country. By way of comparison, EU assistance to Poland in 2007 amounted to 1.63% GDP. While percentage figures for Africa’s lowest-income economies may look high, the absolute aid provided, e.g., to Burkina Faso – West Africa’s biggest source of migration – would stand at $116 million, the equivalent of four F-16 fighter jets. Economic aid to South Sudan at the level of 1% GDP would suffice to build 653 km of asphalt roads (average cost: $100,000/km). Meanwhile, the U.S. military aid to Egypt exceeds $1.3 billion a year. In 2017, China made a commitment of $60 billion worth of investments in African infrastructure projects.[15] A question thus arises of whether Europe wants to leave the African continent to the so enormous Chinese influence. And China, unlike Europe, is not threatened with the consequences of out-of-Africa migrations.

Table 3. Examples of the value  of economic assistance ($) that would be provided to African countries north of the equator, at 1%, 2% and 5% of their 2016 GDP levels


GDP in 2016

1% GDP

2% GDP

5% GDP


159 049 145 187

1 590 491 452



Burkina Faso

11 695 117 109

116 951 171

233 902 342

584 755 855


11 267 295 771

112 672 958

225 345 915

563 364 789

DR Congo

40 337 492 609

403 374 926

806 749 852

2 016 874 630


1 891 520 369

18 915 204

37 830 407

94 576 018


270 143 813 412

2 701 438 134




5 413 804 303

54 138 043

108 276 086

270 690 215


70 314 560 872

703 145 609

1 406 291 217



985 831 536

9 858 315

19 716 631

49 291 577


42 793 869 465

427 938 695

855 877 389

2 139 693 473


8 476 136 811

84 761 368

169 522 736

423 806 841


1 122 643 236

11 226 432

22 452 865

56 132 162


70 525 979 046

705 259 790

1 410 519 581



7 778 081 883

77 780 819

155 561 638

388 904 094


2 756 817 825

27 568 178

55 136 357

137 840 891


429 595 346

859 190 692

42 959 534 586



14 001 696 748

140 016 967

280 033 935

700 084 837


103 606 574 896

1 036 065 749

2 072 131 498



4 667 119 320

46 671 193

93 342 386

233 355 966


7 528 285 819

75 282 858

150 565 716

376 414 291


404 649 125 399

4 046 491 254



Central African Republic

1 810 388 740

18 103 887

36 207 775

90 519 437



8 473 784 827

84 737 848

169 475 697

423 689 241


14 604 520 531

146 045 205

292 090 411

730 226 027

Sierra Leone

3 674 756 785

36 747 568

73 495 136

183 737 839


1 318 057 519

13 180 575

26 361 150

65 902 876


82 887 395 895

828 873 959

1 657 747 918


South Sudan

6 534 451 826

65 344 518

130 689 037

326 722 591


4 449 262 345

44 492 623

88 985 247

222 463 117


41 703 561 397

417 035 614

834 071 228

2 085 178 069


25 307 842 467

253 078 425

506 156 849

1 265 392 123

Source: UN Statistics Division (http://unstats.un.org).

Africa countries’ participation in this development plan would come with many strings attached. To begin with, they should firmly and immediately implement structural reforms, aimed at the ease of doing business and fight against corruption. The European Union might also link a country’s participation in the assistance plan to its unambiguous commitment to counter illegal migration and accept those sent back from third countries after they are  refused asylum or refugee status. A higher level of aid (as a percentage of the GDP) could also be linked to the consent of some North African countries to host “hotspots”, where asylum applications of people migrating to the European Union would be processed.

3. Monitoring, evaluation and adjustment to new challenges.

Unlike the UN Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Marshall Plan with Africa must have goals that are clearly defined and backed by intelligible indicators. A monitoring system should also be put in place. Disbursements of successive aid tranches and private investment support must be linked to the programme’s effective  implementation in the country,  to particular projects being carried out, and also to verifiable progress in building a democratic state ruled by law and cracking down on corruption. In contrast to the European Union’s current trust funds for Africa, where project approval and disbursements may take up to two years, decisions on support for particular ventures must be taken on the basis of the relevant national strategy and financed at a much faster pace, within several months.

The Marshall Plan with Africa must contain a mechanism for periodic revision, to flexibly respond to new requirements, arising from conflicts, mass population movements, political crisis or climate change. To better understand the political, social and economic processes unfolding in African countries, the EU and its member states should perceptibly increase expenditure on their embassies (especially in the Sahel and North Africa), and programmes run by NGOs, think-tanks and other expert bodies.


Towards the end of the 21st century Europe can be faced with a political and demographic pressure to let in tens of millions of people from overpopulated Africa. Countries in Central and Eastern Europe, which will be among beneficiaries of climate change (improving the conditions for conducting business and influencing an increase in crops), will also see their societies grow older, population numbers tumble down, and many villages and towns get abandoned.

Meanwhile the African population may reach 4 billion by 2100, posing problems with producing sufficient amounts of food. The best educated Africans will surely be in demand in a greying Europe, helping the continent to keep its high levels of wealth and affluence, but for hundreds of millions of the less skilled, the only options left will be to seek employment on the African labour market or leave the country to earn their crest elsewhere, even on other continents.

For the migration processes to be effectively controlled and adjusted to actual requirements of the European economy, and in order to control social change on our continent, we have to effectively manage the migration pressure that has been building up south of the Mediterranean. To this end, a cohesive, well financed long-term assistance strategy is needed, oriented to jobs creation, African economic development, mitigation of the adverse effects of population growth and climate change, and also to support for the building of democracy, respect  for the rule of law and human rights, and fight against corruption.

By 2100 our civilisation may likely start colonising the Mars. Can we let it happen that simultaneously millions of people will be dying from hunger in an overpopulated, poor and climate change-hit Africa, its economy unable to join the international trading system as an equal partner? 

[1] World Population Prospects: The 2016 Revision – Key Findings and Advance Tables, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, July 2016

[2] This writer is aware that the accuracy of scenarios spanning the next 60–80 years is not great. The catastrophic warnings of the 1960s and 1970s, about the exhaustion of oil sources and agricultural resources, actually  failed to materialise. The population growth scenarios are based on the birth rates registered at present, but their decline is exceedingly small (e.g. from 2.7% in 2010 to 2.6% in 2017 in Nigeria).

[3] The fertility rate is the average number of children who would be born to a woman if she lived through her child bearing years with the average fertility for the given year.

[4] A. Pochrzęst-Motyczyńska, Gdzie rodzić? W Warszawie. Coraz więcej porodow w stołecznych szpitalach, Wyborcza.pl, 24 September 2016, http://warszawa.wyborcza.pl.

[5] Ibid.

[6] IMF World Economic Outlook Database, data for 2017.

[7] B. Adebayo, Nigeria overtakes India in extreme poverty ranking, CNN, 26 June 2018,


[8] B. Idowu, Nigeria to Emerge 14th Largest Economy by 2050 – PWC, Leadership, 19 July 2017, https://leadership.ng.

[9] D. Hoornweg, K. Pope, Population predictions of the 101 largest cities in the 21st century, Global Cities Institute, Working Paper No. 4.

[10] Africa and Europe – A new partnership for development, peace and a better future: Cornerstones of a Marshall Plan with Africa, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, January 2017, www.bmz.de.

[11] Program-for-Results Information Document (PID) – Power Sector Recovery Performance Based Loan, report no. PIDC0122348, The World Bank, 29 June 2017, p. 5, http://documents.worldbank.org.

[12] Nigeria energy situation, Energypedia, https://energypedia.info.

[13] Democratic Republic of Congo Road Network, United Nations Logistics Cluster, https://dlca.logcluster.org.

[14] A similar process, namely villagers losing all possessions in the aftermath of a drought in eastern Syria in 2006–2010 and country-to-town migration by 1.5 million people, was among the triggers of a revolution in that country.

[15] “How China’s $60 Billion for Africa Will Drive Global Prosperity, Forbes, 14 March 2017, www.forbes.com.

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