The horrific images of African migrants drowning in the Mediterranean broadcasted live into the homes of millions of people has captivated the attention of the world in recent years, prompting many leaders to do “something about it.” These images also give the impression that Africa is a crumbling and hopeless continent from which its young and strong are so desperate they risk their lives to escape. On the other hand, economic statistics coming out of Africa describe a continent on the move with unprecedented growth and economic opportunities. Why such a paradox? To appropriately inform policies related to illegal migration from Africa, we must first understand its patterns and underlying causes.
The most important fact to note about the migration rate in Africa, is that at 2.9 percent in 2017, it is one of the lowest in the world, only higher than that of Asia and North America. Over time, the migration rate in Africa has declined while the global average rate increased from 2.9 percent of total population to about 3.4 percent. Since 1990, the number of African migrants has risen by about 80 percent. This rate is among the lowest in the world, only higher than that of North America and Europe. Clearly, migration from Africa is not as widespread as is widely perceived.
The other important factor to note about the pattern of migration in Africa is that generally the bulk of it takes place within the region. In fact, 79 percent of sub-Saharan African migrants move within the same region. Less than 22 percent of migrants from Africa emigrate outside of Africa, with less than 15 percent of African migrants emigrating to Europe or North America.
Read the full article about the facts of African migration by Abebe Shimeles at Brookings.
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