International Migration Within Africa Nearly Doubled Between 2008 and 2017: Report

Addis Ababa – The movement of people between countries within Africa is the defining feature of migration on the continent a new, 10-year study of migration has concluded. 

The second edition of the Report on Labour Migration Statistics in Africa (2017), released by the African Union Commission (AUC) in Addis Ababa on 29 September, reveals that the number of new arrivals from a different African country almost doubled from 13.3 million to 25.4 million migrants over the decade (2008 to 2017), an average annual growth rate of 7.5 per cent. 

Although foreign migrants represent just 2.1 per cent of the total population on the continent, their numbers have continued to grow rapidly, driven by demographic, socio-economic and environmental factors and leading to increased pressure on the labour market of host countries. 

The report was jointly produced by the African Union Commission (AUC), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), as part of the Joint Labour Migration Programme (JLMP). 

The population of Africa increased to 1.2 billion in 2017, from 944 million in 2008, which is an average annual growth rate of 2.8 per cent. The working-age population on the continent rose from 509 million to 662 million, an increase of around 33 per cent. 

West Africa, East Africa and Southern Africa accounted for the largest movements of migrant workers on the continent, with young people in West Africa being the most likely to move in search of work. This is partly attributed to the cooperation agreements between countries within the regions, which recognize individuals’ rights to move freely and to settle. 

The report also touches on the growth in remittances, the characteristics and distribution of migrants, as well as the level of social protection enjoyed by migrant workers. 

The volume of remittances received from Africans, including those living and working outside the continent, is said to have increased by 33.4 per cent to USD75.7 billion in 2017, from USD56.8 billion in 2010. 

The report comes at a time when the African Union Commission, heads of governments, and development partners have been calling for reliable, high quality and timely labour migration data that is disaggregated by gender, age, socio-economic activities, migratory status and other key indicators. 

As such, the information in the report is seen as key in aligning development priorities, and in monitoring progress towards the objectives of the AU’s Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals. 

Through the JLMP, the AU Commission is working closely with member states and the eight regional economic communities (RECs) to build a database on international labour migration on the continent, which the Report drew from. 

Over 100 technical experts, government ministers and representatives of member states, officials from the development sector, funding partners, and other interested individuals came together in two virtual meetings that coincided with the launch of the report. 

In her remarks, the Commissioner of Social Affairs at the African Union Commission, Amira Ms. Elfadil Mohammed Elfadil said, “… the implementation of the Joint Labor Migration Program (JLMP) in collaboration with the partners, ILO and IOM, goes a long way towards poverty eradication, inclusive development as well as ensuring that migrants are well protected when they leave their countries of origin in search of better opportunities.” 

Ms. Maureen Achieng, IOM’s Chief of Mission to Ethiopia and Representative to the African Union and UNECA, said, “… we hope that, with the data from the report, AUC, member states and RECs will be able to address remaining challenges related to the paucity of disaggregated data required for policy formulation in migration, economic, labour, climate action, enterprise development, investment, education and other policies that will ultimately contribute to a prosperous Africa.” 

Data collection for an improved third edition, expected to be launched in January 2021, is currently underway. The JLMP is supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation (SIDA), German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ), and the European Union (EU). 

For more information, contact Eric Mazango at IOM Ethiopia, Email: