Interview with Marc Kaboré (President of Burkina Faso): “The EU must walk the talk on migration”

New York (UN Headquarters) – On the sidelines of the UN summit on migration, Burkina Faso’s President, Roch Marc Kaboré, gave his views on the external investment plan for Africa and neighbourhood countries presented last week by the European Commission, which aims to boost the private sector and employment, thus contributing to the SDG’ achievement and tackling the root causes of migration to Europe. “The EU has put forward an attractive plan but we need to see action rather than words. Africa must be listened to,” President Kaboré told

Mr President, last week the European Commission set out an action plan to encourage private investment in Africa in an effort to contribute towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goals and tackling the root causes of migration from Africa to the EU. It intends to invest up to €88 billion between now and 2020. What is your response to this plan?

We can only respond positively to this EU plan which I personally find very appealing. Having said that, we must not delude ourselves. Words and plans must be followed by action. In New York, the UN member states are to announce a plan worth US$4.5 billion in 2016 in addition to 2015 budget to protect refugees and migrants. That’s all well and good but then what? Promises are one thing; the reality of the situation is another. Africa must be listened to and its needs seriously addressed, rather than just making announcements. Laws need to be adopted that really protect migrants; otherwise we will only feed xenophobia and cause new conflicts and tension internationally.

Migration is now at the top of the global political agenda…

That’s obviously a good thing. We’ve always said that the rich countries need to try to help poorer ones to manage the phenomenon of migration more effectively. We can’t do it alone. This is particularly true of African countries in the grip of armed conflicts which lead to forced migration. We also firmly believe that there is no point in building walls and that borders should be left open. Efforts should instead be focused on officialising migratory flows and opening legal and protected channels for those fleeing.

What contribution can a country like Burkina Faso make towards combatting illegal migration and guaranteeing the rights of migrants?

Burkina Faso is a country from where people primarily move towards bordering countries. Between two and three million of our fellow citizens live and work in the Côte d’Ivoire. There is extensive cooperation with the Ivorian authorities to control the migratory flows between the two countries. Africa generally does what it can. From Kenya to Burkina Faso to Ethiopia, we receive a much higher number of migrants and refugees than those who reach, or attempt to reach, Europe. What with poverty, which is still widespread on our continent, armed conflict, the threat of terrorism and the difficulties in controlling our borders, managing migratory flows is extremely complex in Africa. The international community, and the European Union in particular, must help us.

By Joshua Massarenti (

© Vita/Afronline (Italy), Les Echos (Mali), Le Nouveau Républicain and Radio Labari, L’Autre Quotidien (Benin), Mutations (Cameroon), Le Confident (CAR).

This article was published in the framework of an editorial project co-financed by Directorate General for Globalization and Global Issues (DGMO) of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MAECI), gathering 25 African independent media.