Africans Among Best Educated US  Immigrants Study Finds

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When you picture an African immigrant in the United States, do you imagine someone with little or no schooling, struggling to find work?

New research shows a different reality: African immigrants in the United States are college-educated and employed at about the same rates as the general population, and far more likely to be educated and working than their counterparts in Europe.


The report, by the Pew Research Center, found 69 percent of sub-Saharan African immigrants in the United States have some college education. That number is six percentage points higher than the level for native-born Americans, and far higher than levels in Europe.

In Britain, about half of sub-Saharan African immigrants have some college education. In France, the number is 30 percent. In Italy it is only 10 percent.

The Pew study, based on 2015 data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Eurostat’s Labor Force Survey, also found about 93 percent of African immigrants in the United States were employed, whereas in Europe employment figures ranged from 80 percent in Italy to 92 percent in the U.K. These numbers were roughly equal to the general population in each country.Monica Anderson is a research associate at Pew and a co-author of the report. The research team wanted to compare demographics of African immigrants in the United States to their counterparts in Europe, Anderson told VOA by phone.


“What we found is that the sub-Saharan African immigrant population [in the U.S.] really stands out and that they are a very highly educated group,” Anderson said.

“The majority of sub-Saharan African immigrants in all of these countries that we looked at are employed, and when you look at their employment compared to those who were actually — who were born in those specific countries — there’s really not a lot of difference,” she added.

Migration routes

In 2015, about 2.1 million African immigrants were living in the U.S., according to Pew. That number has more than doubled since 2000.

They came to the United States in different ways - to study, for employment opportunities, and through family reunification programs, the latter denounced by President Donald Trump as "chain migration."

Some Africans come to the United States as refugees and asylum seekers. In 2016, about 31,000 Africans were admitted into the United States as refugees, accounting for 37 percent of all admissions. About 19 percent of admissions came from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where conflict has displaced nearly two million people in the past 18 months.

Thousands more come through the State Department's diversity visa lottery, which provides 50,000 permanent resident visas annually to persons from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. In 2015, the last year for which data is available, African immigrants made up 46 percent of applicants invited to request immigrant visas.


Ease of reach

One explanation for the difference in education levels is that Europe is much easier to reach for low-income Africans who travel by boat or other means.

Since 2010, violence, turmoil and poverty have driven approximately 1.5 million Africans to leave the continent for the United States or Europe, and the numbers have grown each year, according to the United Nations.Hundreds of thousands have risked crossing the Mediterranean Sea on rickety boats, hoping to make it to Italy or Greece.

In contrast, Africans coming to America often have the money to travel by plane, and the permission to enter the country once they arrive.

“It is also about proximity, and I think there are other studies and literature out there about how proximity might impact the kind of characteristics that different groups might have when they’re migrating,” Anderson said. “So those who have a lower socioeconomic status may not have the capabilities or have the resources to move to a distant country.”

Better off?


Higher education and employment levels don’t necessarily translate into a higher quality of life for African immigrants in the United States, based on previous research by Pew.

Despite high education and employment rates, black immigrants — including those from Africa, the Caribbean, Central America and South America — have a median household income that’s about $8,200 lower than the U.S. average, Pew researchers found.

Forty percent of black immigrants are homeowners, 24 percent less than the overall U.S. population, and 20 percent of black immigrants live below the poverty line, compared to 16 percent of the overall U.S. population.

These numbers suggest that, despite relatively high education and employment rates, African immigrants face challenges getting access to all the opportunities that other groups enjoy.


Salem Solomon is a multimedia digital journalist with the Voice of America’s Africa Division. She covers the latest news from across the continent, and she also reports and edits in Amharicand Tigrigna.

Salem’s multimedia and data-driven projects include How Western DRC’s Ebola Outbreak Was ContainedUnrest: Ethiopia at a CrossroadsZimbabwe in TransitionHunger Across Africa and How Long Have Africa's Presidents Held Office?

Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Poynter.org and Reuters. She researches trends in analytics and digital journalism. For tips and inquiries, email: salemsolomon@voanews.com.


African innovations that could change the world

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Unleashing the power of innovation in Africa will help create an important platform for widespread sustainable development across the continent. It stems from the extreme need there exists to find immediate, sustainable solutions for critical problems the continent has been facing, and which threatens to diminish its next phase of development. The provision of innovative products as well as modern services will enable better healthcare, increased access to education, improved social life, poverty reduction and better quality of life.

Here we have listed 5 African Innovations that are changing lives for the better:


1. 3D Printers from E-Waste

Each year, the electronics industry generates up to 41 million tonnes of electronic waste (e-waste). It is an ever growing problem in Africa, where certain countries have become dumping grounds for electronics from Europe and North America. To combat this worsening trend, WoeLab is stepping up its recycling efforts on the continent. Members of the Tanzanian community technology hub joined together to create Africa’s first-ever 3D printer from e-waste, utilising discarded electronic parts to help advance the technology of the impoverished region. In a country where about 60% of the inhabitants live in poverty, offering access to emerging and self-sustainable technologies is a viable way to improve their livelihood.


2. New electric mini taxis

Africa is urbanising and ‘motorising’ faster than any other region in the world. Unless action is taken, says the WHO, the continent’s urban air pollution levels could triple or quadruple within 15 years. Mellowcabs manufactures and operates three-wheeled, electric mini-cabs to provide low cost, eco-friendly and convenient taxi and transport services in built-up cities. The vehicles are manufactured from recycled materials, and feature state of the art electric motors and batteries. Advances in information and communications technologies, connectivity, data collection, and analytics are catalysing a technology revolution that could dramatically alter the face of the transport sector in Africa and beyond.


3. Farmers and Agribusiness Marketplace

Agribusiness can play a vital role in economic development in many developing countries and this is especially true in Africa where agriculture accounts for 25% of the continent’s GDP, and 70% of employment. Fragmented markets, price controls, and poor infrastructure has hampered production in recent years. However, new and exciting innovations in technology has seen things start to move in the right direction. Mlouma is a web and mobile service that allows farmers and agribusiness to take best decision of purchase or sale of agricultural products through the information in the market that we give them in real time. Farmers and buyers can receive updates via the internet, SMS notifications or even a call center to quickly find out where to buy their products at the best price.


4. Off Grid Solar Power

More than 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to electricity; 71 million in Kenya and Tanzania alone. Without any other options, citizens are forced to either go without power or use kerosene, an expensive and oftentimes dangerous fuel that pollutes the air and creates fire hazards. Now, with the aid of new mobile and solar technology, access to basic electricity is becoming a reality for many rural African communities. Off-Grid Electric is one company providing pay-as-you-go solar power to customers in Africa. The company leases systems that include solar panels, batteries, lights, mobile phone chargers and televisions with users able to make payments with mobile phones. Renewable energy, in its many forms and with a multitude of financing options, is here to stay, as it will play a pivotal role in efforts to implement the Sustainable Development Goals.


5. Biomedical smart jacket

According to UNICEF, pneumonia kills half a million children under five each year in sub-Saharan Africa. A main contributing factor is the slow diagnosis. Ugandan inventor Brian Turabagye has created a biomedical smart jacket that can diagnose the condition four times faster than a doctor and it’s also more accurate. Its sensors pick up sound patterns from the lungs, temperature and breathing rate and within four minutes, the data is computed and sent to a mobile phone application which then gives a diagnosis. The device is called MamaOpe, which means “mother’s hope”. Since it doesn’t require a doctor to run the tests, it can be used at remote locations. This wearable medical device could help save millions of lives in Africa and beyond every year.

An increasing number of start-ups in Africa are driving innovation, and contributing to an innovative business environment that seeks to offer consumers better experiences in areas such as commerce, health, finance, and agriculture. There is no doubt that innovation in Africa will continue to play a key role in its sustainable development future.


Netflix’s ‘The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind’ Is A True Story About An Invention That Saved An Entire Community

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Oscar-nominated actor Chiwetel Ejiofor makes his directorial debut with The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, an upcoming original Netflix movie, out Mar. 1. The story focuses on a Malawian boy named William (Maxwell Simba), who saves his town from famine by constructing a windmill to provide water and electricity. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is actually based on a remarkab