African billionaire rebuts idea of migration flood in Europe

The migration of Africans to Europe and North America should be viewed as a positive phenomenon, not a threat, Sudan-born billionaire Mo Ibrahim said Sunday.

Experts said at a weekend conference hosted by Ibrahim's foundation in Abidjan, Ivory Coast that Africans make up about 14% of the global migrant population, a much smaller share than the 41% from Asia and 23% from Europe.

"Migration is healthy. It's not a disease," Ibrahim told The Associated Press in an interview. "Migration is about aspirations, not desperation. People who migrate are mostly capable, ambitious young people who are migrating to work and to build successful lives. They add wealth to the countries they go to."

Ibrahim also cited statistics to rebut anti-migration politicians who say Africans have inundated Europe.

"Europe is not being flooded by Africans," Ibrahim said, citing statistics that show 70% of African migrants relocate within Africa.

The 72-year-old philanthropist earned his fortune by establishing the Celtel mobile phone network across Africa.

Now living in Britain, he says African countries should have better education and employment opportunities for their young.

"Farming should be sexy. It should be seen as profitable and productive, not a backward thing," said Ibrahim. "Yes, IT and technology are important, but agriculture is a way of the future for Africa."

Ibrahim's foundation publishes an annual index and awards a leadership prize to encourage good governance in Africa.