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
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
target="_blank" title="">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
Sizeable Beninese communities are also found in the United
States of America, Canada, China, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar
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
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
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
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
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: "http://publications.iom.int/bookstore/free/Profil_Migratoire_Benin.pdf"
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