WE-Africa Condemns Slavery in Libya and calls for Wellbeing Economy in Africa. Members of Wellbeing Economy Africa Network (WE-Africa) rose from their meeting held in Pretoria, South Africa, 27-29 November 2017, with a strong call to put an end to modern day enslavement of migrants and refugees in Libya and for the prosecution of those complicit in the dehumanising acts for crimes against humanity. WE-Africa is an action-research alliance of likeminded scholars and practitioners who share a common concern about the current socio-economic conditions in which we live and are willing to work together to promote a transition to a wellbeing-based economy for Africa. WE-Africa works to consolidate evidence for change while focusing on building a new economy and promoting alternative development policies.
WE-Africa recognises that the abominable events in Libya are a culmination of a number of factors, none of which, however, excuses the inhuman acts. Such factors include the fact that most African nations are riddled with conflicts and dependent on wasteful economic policies that do not meet the basic needs of their citizens. Some of these refugees were thus seeking an escape from poverty, war, unemployment and environmental destruction. They had already endured the hazards of passing through the hostile Sahara Desert before being held in Libya, with Europe turning a blind eye to such gross human rights violations. Their journeys into slavery began as migrants as well as economic, political and climate refugees hoping to make their ways to the Mediterranean coasts of Libya and crossing over to Europe.
WE-Africa recognizes that facilitating the downfall of regimes through external military intervention without creating the necessary conditions for a democratic transition has created a fertile condition for serious humanitarian disasters and human rights abuses. An example is the military intervention in Libya by NATO, which has contributed to the present situation, adding to centuries of colonialism and decades of neo-colonialism that have led to ecological mayhem and rising inequality in Africa.
Against the backdrop of the Euro-Africa summit taking place in Abidjan (Cote d’Ivoire), WE-Africa Ne calls on the European Union to recall its complicity in what is happening in Libya and not to forget their long-standing relations with Africa, including historical, ecological and climate debts, and ease access to their territory as this would eliminate the power of illicit cartels trading in human misery.
WE-Africa regrets that at a time when economies of African nations are said to be ‘growing’, the social and economic realities of citizens remain abysmal.
We call on the African Union and African governments to:
- Request the United Nations Human Rights Commission to conduct a detailed investigation and bring those who are accountable for this terrible and inhuman act to justice.
- Go beyond demanding for a probe of the subhuman treatment being meted to Africans by other Africans on our continent and take an immediate diplomatic and political actions to stop these inhuman acts
- To carry out investigations on why their citizens prefer to embark on the hazardous journey to Libya rather than remain in their home countries
- Urgently put in place pro-people measures that ensures full employment, security, access to health, education and other social needs.
- Urgently recognize and utilize the rich human resources and gifts of Nature in the continent to derive alternatives pathways to wellbeing, including increased human development indices.
- Question the use of indices such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) that give false notions of growth while citizens groan under the weight of unjust and inequitable economic relations.
- Embrace a difference approach to development inspired by the concept of ‘Wellbeing Economy’ to build the pathway to an egalitarian future and entrenched in the spirit of Ubuntu.
We cannot be silent. African governments cannot be silent. Time to act is now!
- Lorenzo Fioramonti (South Africa)
- Ifeoma Malo (Nigeria)
- Nnimmo Bassey (Nigeria)
- Desta Mebratu (Ethiopia)
- Samuel Bankole (Nigeria)
- Mamadou lamine Ba (Senegal)
- Misgana Elias Kallore (Ethiopia)
- Kane Racine (Senegal)
- Hope Kasedde (Uganda)
- Fidelis Allen (Nigeria)
- Verengai Mabika (Zimbabwe)
- Mao Amis (South Africa)
- Pat Pillai (South Africa)
- Ruth Moraa (Kenya)
- Bernard Osawa (Kenya)
- Henry J. Roman (South Africa)
- Katherine Trebeck (Namibia)
- Ndubuisi Ekekwe (Nigeria)
- Masechaba Mabilu (South Africa)
- Gamelihle Sibanda (Zimbabwe)
- Lisa Heldsinger (South Africa)
- Rehana Moosajee (South Africa)
- Marjolein Brasz
- Christelle Terreblanche (South Africa)
- Handaik Crouge (South Africa)
- Paul Sutton (United States)
- Kate Pickett (United Kingdom)
- Richard Wilkinson (United Kingdom)
- Kristin Vala Ragnarsdottir (Iceland)
- Robert Costanza (Australia)
- Stewart Wallis (United Kingdom)
- Ida Kubiszewski (Australia)
- Pedro Tabensky (South Africa)
- Megan Seneque (South Africa)
- Martin Kalungu Banda (Zambia)
- Wiebke Koenig (Germany)
- Najma Mohamed (South Africa)
- Dirk Philipsen (Germany/USA)
- Janine Schall-Emden (Germany)
- Sidney Luckett (South Africa)
Of the many human driven positive changes in the world today, the gradual shift from dependence on fossil fuels (oil gas and coal) may be the most important. The implication for Nigeria is severe, because of our unpreparedness to grapple with the change.
Our economy still depends heavily on revenue from oil and gas. Although much revenue has been generated over the six decades of oil exploitation, our national savings account still reads $1 billion, a paltry amount compared to Norway’s $1 trillion Sovereign Wealth Fund. Once a financially buoyant nation, Nigeria has fallen to one that borrows or seeks to borrow for almost any serious project or programme.
For the Niger Delta, the consequences of oil and gas exploration and exploitation have been dire. The level of ecological degradation is so high that we are not far from the truth when we say that some parts of the region are environmental dead zones.
Granted that the Niger Delta has dedicated agencies to tackle her challenges, we have not made much progress due partly to a lack of deep analysis of the very meaning of the concept of development as well as a lack of serious evaluation of the programmatic and project paths chosen and implemented. It is time for us to ask the inevitable questions: what is development? And, using current understanding, do we need development alternatives or is it that we actually need alternatives to development?
In undertaking the HOMEF project, Beyond Oil Dialogue – Re-imagining the Development of the Niger Delta, our objective has been to review/evaluate the development efforts of governments in Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers States. This has uncovered the fundamental reasons why programmes succeed or fail. In doing that, we have teased out possible pathways that would yield positive results.
The project has also afforded us the space to look at opportunities for building the socio-economic future of the region using the rich biodiversity base as a key starting point. In all scenarios, popular participation in inception, planning and execution of whatever schemes are to be embarked on is fundamental if such schemes are to succeed and be accepted by the people.
How can the Niger Delta economy be made greener, the environment safer and the rich biodiversity endowment enhanced and preserved? What can be done to prepare and insulate the region from the coming shocks of a global shift from a fossil fuel based economy and as oil and gas resources lose value and as energy transition to renewable sources gains speed?
What will become of the abandoned oil fields and will the massive pollution in the region be cleaned-up or abandoned?
These are some of the questions we grappled with in the report under review today. It was put together by a team of researchers, development practitioners as well as energy and biodiversity experts. We are happy that government representatives are here with us, because our objective is to go beyond oil dialogue and enter a phase of action on the basis of a preferred future agreed to by our peoples.
Uyo, 20 October 2017