Benin Remains a Country of Emigration and Destination, IOM Migration Profile Confirms

Benin Remains a Country of Emigration and Destination, IOM Migration Profile Confirms

The newly released IOM Migration Profile of Benin shows a marked increase in the number of Beninese nationals emigrating to other African West African countries.

According to the report, demographic growth, poverty, unemployment, increased living costs, difficult climatic conditions and dwindling natural resources continue to push many Beninese to migrate internally from rural to urban areas, within the region and beyond.

Data from the Ministry in charge of relations with Beninese abroad indicate that close to 4, 4 million people- almost half the entire population- have emigrated, overwhelmingly to neighbouring countries.

Profil Migratoire Bénin

Figures show that 98 per cent reside in countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), including Nigeria (69%), Cote d'Ivoire (20%), Senegal (6.9%), Niger (1.6%) and Gabon (1%).

The report shows only 0.7 per cent of the total number of Beninese migrants go to Europe, out of which France remains the favourite destination (83.7%), followed by Italy (7.7%) and Germany (6.1%).

Sizeable Beninese communities are also found in the United States of America, Canada, China, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Japan.

Analysing the educational levels of Beninese emigrants, the report shows that more than 40% have completed primary education, 11.4% secondary education and 34.4% higher education. In 2007, more than 3,600 Beninese students were studying abroad, mostly in French universities.

Regional migration flows into Benin have also increased, according to the Migration Profile. Data from the 2002 Population and Housing Census shows that the number of immigrants rose from some 78,000 in 1992 to some 157,000 in 2002, an increase of more than 100 per cent in 10 years.

The largest foreign communities in Benin are from Niger (34.8%), Togo (22.1%), Nigeria (20.5%) and other West African countries (11.6%).

This surge can be attributed to political stability, improved economic activities and to porous borders. The Profile shows that these immigrants are mostly independent workers (40 %) with another 40 per cent not declaring their social or professional status.

Migration contributes to poverty reduction through remittances from migrant workers, according to IOM's Migration Profile of Benin. Official data from the Central Bank of West African States show that, from 2000 to 2009, annual net transfers by migrants averaged USD 28.9 million, representing 2.4 per cent of the country's GDP.

The Profile notes that Benin has no migration policy document. However, there are legislative and regulatory texts governing migration issues, which tie into sub regional agreements on regional integration, particularly within ECOWAS and UEMOA, and to international agreements and conventions.

The real challenge in managing migration include formulating a migration policy to be implemented through specific programmes and building an institutional framework to better coordinate the work of various structures involved in migration.

It also notes that data on migration are rare and, where they do exist, they come from various sources that do not always adopt the same approaches and concepts, which makes using and comparing data difficult.

This Profile was funded by the European Union as part of the project “Partnership for Labour Migration Management: EU- Benin, Cameroun, Mali, Senegal”, under the lead of GIP International, a grouping of the main institutional French actors in the areas of employment, vocational training and migration.

The IOM Migration Profile for Benin, available in French, can be downloaded at:

For more information, please contact:

Bertille Motuin
IOM Regional Office for West and Central Africa
Tel: +221 33 869 62 00