Billionaire philanthropist and Microsoft founder Bill Gates has been at the center of quite a bit of controversy over recent comments that he made regarding the mass migration of Africans to Europe. Speaking to German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, Gates reportedly warned that Europe stands to be destroyed if it doesn’t make a more concerted effort to “make it more difficult for Africans to reach the continent.” Gates’ statement seemed to shock many pro-immigrant commentators, some of whom apparently felt betrayed by a man who has previously done so much to help out Africans through the charitable works of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. However, it could be argued that if one looks more closely at what Gates actually said, that his comments aren’t completely out of line with all of his previous views and actions regarding Africa.
In the interview, Gates seemed to warn that a continuation of Germany’s open-door migration policy would cause great harm to the nation as there is simply no way for it or any other European nation to take in the millions of people that desire to make their way to the continent. In essence, Gates stated that Germany’s famed generosity to refugees has actually motivated more migrants to attempt to make the treacherous trip across the Mediterranean and that European nations need to better patrol the transit routes to make it much tougher to reach Europe and thus hopefully dissuade more migrants from attempting the dangerous journey.
These comments were immediately picked up by right-wing groups and news agencies like Breitbart in an effort to show that even the famous philanthropist is now anti-immigrant. Nonetheless, unlike many people on the right-wing, Gates is not anti-African and, in fact, he is still a huge proponent of African aid. Although Gates did call for improved border security to help cut down on the flow of migrants, this wasn’t actually the main point he tried to make. Instead, he specifically noted that the only way to truly stop the migration problem was by dedicating a huge amount of foreign aid money to Africa.
Gates specifically applauded Germany’s recent commitment to dedicate 0.7% of its GDP to foreign aid and called on other European countries to follow suit. This echoes similar statements that he gave a few weeks ago to mark the occasion of the G20 Summit in Hamburg where he heaped praise on Angela Merkel for making African aid and development of the key issues at this year’s G20 meeting. In this case, Gates tried to drive home the point of how important it is to continue focusing on African development by stating “the challenges facing Africa affect us all.”
When you consider these earlier comments alongside Gates more recent comments about migrants, it becomes clearer that he isn’t saying that Europe should simply close up its borders and shut out Africans. Instead, it is imperative that the world’s leaders focus even more on African aid and development through programs like the G20 Africa Partnership and the G20 Compact with Africa.