Netherlands hope €50m will keep Africans in Africa

The Netherlands is investing 50 million euros in the development of the African economy. The intention is that this money will improve employment in North African countries and stop local young people from risking their lives by fleeing to Europe by boat. This investment also forms part of the coalition's deal on what to do with failed asylum seekers.

Minister Lilianne Ploumen of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation said this in the Volkskrant on Tuesday. She is meeting with her European counterparts on Tuesday, where she will explain this plan to them. She hopes that other countries will soon follow the Netherlands' example and invest in the North African economies.

Ploumen admits that this investment will not solve the problem completely. But she believes the current European plans to stem the flow of migrants are rather vague, and therefore sees the investment as an important signal for a structural solution.

According to the minister, it is particularly important to give people from North African countries such as Senegal, Ghana and Tunisia some perspective. "Those who risk their lives to come to Europe, are not only desperate; they also have guts and ambition", Ploumen said. "We must now ensure that someone like that use his guts and ambition to build a life in his own country. Because the paradise he's looking for does not exist. Those that don't drown on the way too often end up as an illegal, trudging along the beaches of Spain or Italy, selling sunglasses that nobody wants." she said. "We now have to pull out all the stops to prevent young Africans from stepping on a rickety boat in Libya tomorrow."

This investment is taken from the budget of the Dutch Growth Fund, the fund that Ploumen uses for projects linking development to trade. The intention is that local entrepreneurs are supported with the money. Dutch companies with plans in the region can claim money from the fund. Ploumen hopes that there will be collaboration with civil society organizations that are active in the area.