Captain Phillips

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“Captain Phillips” is the title of a 2013 Hollywood film about a captain of a ship, the Maersk Alabama, which is being hijacked off the Somali coast in April 2009. It is based on a true story and captures the drama of the attack, the struggles on board, the captivity and finally the rescue of the captain and the ship by the US navy. The entire drama is captured very well with excellent acting of all characters.
It is impressive to watch the rescue operation, were it not for the fact that the entire film is about the hijack by the pirates (the bad guys) and the rescue of the captain and the crew (the good guys).
In the middle of all action there is however a very short dialogue between the captain and the leader of the pirates, which is not to be missed.
The pirate tells the captain that they want money. “You come to our waters, you pay.” he says. The captain tries to argue that these are international waters and that he is carrying food for starving children in Africa, including Somalia. Unimpressed the pirate continues: “Big ships control our waters; they take all the fish away. What is left for us to fish?” The captain looks surprised and asks: “You are fishermen?” “Yes, we are fishermen.” replies the pirate.
The point is that people are being robbed of their livelihoods by the big and powerful and this is happening in many places around the world.
Meanwhile we continue to see the desperate attempts of young Africans trying to make their way to Europe and find a better way of living as they feel excluded from opportunities in their own country.
Fragile situations are also caused by the failure of economies to be inclusive in their hunger for growth, often unsustainable growth.
Solutions must therefore be found in sustainable and inclusive development instead of desperate measures military options to keep the tidal wave of immigrants at bay.
Some twenty five years ago and more, before Europe began tightening its immigration rules, it was quite easy and common for migrant workers to cross into Europe and do seasonal work, like picking tomatoes and other fruits and vegetable. Or clean dishes in hotels and restaurants during the peak summer seasons. Having worked and earned some money, at the end of the season they normally went back home and used the hard earned money to support themselves and their family. Now, this free seasonal work movements are not possible anymore as it is very difficult to get a visa, leave alone a work permit. We see these movements though within Europe as people from the east part of the union travel to the west to pick strawberries in the summertime for example.
Meanwhile those Africans who once have managed to get into the EU, must make sure they stay there as they don’t want to risk not being able to come back anymore. For those who want to get in there is only one option and that is the illegal option, providing a huge market for the human traffickers. Try and make it more difficult for them and they will still find their ways, be it more dangerous and thus more expensive for their clients.      
In contrast, I am told that the East African countries have opened their borders for each other’s citizens, who are free to move and work in any of the member states. This works well as they complement each other in knowledge and skills. To me this sounds like a very strategic way to enhance employment and thus social and economic development in the region.  
The past week the African Development Bank held its annual meeting in Abidjan, Ivory Coast and organized conferences and discussion sessions about how to sustain the economic growth in Africa, industrialization, create employment, mitigate and adapt to climate change, generate energy and the resources to make it all happen. It paid specific attention to “inclusive growth” and I conclude this article, quoting what the Bank writes in its 2014 annual report about inclusive growth:
“Africa has grown at an unprecedented pace in the past decade. However, the benefits of this economic resurgence have not been broadly shared. Instead, growth has been concentrated in particular sectors or geographical areas within countries, excluding large sections of people. To lift the majority of Africans out of poverty, growth must be more inclusive. This requires creating employment opportunities through a better business and investment climate that enables the private sector to thrive. More importantly, remote areas must be connected to growth poles through better infrastructure and deeper regional integration, both within countries and across national borders. Achieving inclusive growth will also be underpinned by effective transformation of Africa’s natural wealth into created wealth, including building human capital and skills. This calls for prudent, effective, and sustainable management of natural resources for the benefit of all Africans. Climate change is a threat to Africa’s sustainable future, and hence undermines prospects for inclusive growth. Addressing climate change will therefore ensure a smooth transition towards an environmentally sustainable growth path.
The African Development Bank Group defines inclusive growth as economic growth that results in a wider access to sustainable livelihood opportunities for a broader number of people, regions, or countries, while protecting the vulnerable, all in an environment of fairness, equity, and political plurality. Inclusive growth refers to the need for economic and social development to be able to embrace and benefit all segments
of the population. Rapid growth is necessary for substantial poverty reduction, but for this growth to be sustainable in the long run, it should be broad-based across sectors, and inclusive in terms of its impact on the wider society. Therefore, inclusive growth refers to the pace and sources of growth, and is concerned with opportunities for the labor force in the low-, middle-, and high-income segments of the economy.
This approach focuses on productive employment rather than on direct income distribution, as a means of increasing incomes for excluded groups. It also emphasizes ways of fast-tracking growth by moving those sectors of the labor force that are trapped in activities with low productivity into high productivity and dynamic sectors, and empowering those completely excluded from the growth process.”

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