Senegal Shifts from Country of Destination to One of Transit and Professional Emigration, IOM Migration Profile Finds
Senegal, historically considered mainly as a country of destination
in the West African region, has now also become a country of
emigration due to increasingly difficult living conditions at home
and the successful migration experience of earlier Senegalese
emigrants to most developed African countries, as well as to Europe
and the United States.
Immigration, though less significant, still exists but has
become essentially transit migration. Indeed, because of its
geographical position, emigration candidates, particularly from
West Africa, transit through Senegal as they head further north to
Maghreb countries, or to travel by sea or air to Europe.
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target="" title="">IOM Migration Profile of Senegal
According to the United Nations Population Division, the net
rate of migration, in other words the difference between the number
of persons entering and leaving the country per year per 1,000
inhabitants, registered a negative trend during the 1995-2005
period. The estimates for 2005–2010 seem to confirm this
tendency, with a net emigration rate of 1.7 migrant per 1,000
According to data available, the stock of Senegalese emigrants
is estimated at 479,515. The key destination countries are the
Gambia (20 per cent), France (18 per cent), Italy (10 per cent),
Mauritania (8 per cent), Germany (5 per cent) and Ghana (5 per
Data shows that the vast majority of all emigrants were of
working age, and that close to 68 per cent of emigrants moved
abroad in search of a better or new job. This was particularly the
case for skilled workers, who represented 24.1 per cent of the
emigrant stock abroad.
Additionally, the research points to a "brain drain" phenomenon
affecting Senegal, with 17.7 per cent of those receiving higher
education emigrating, largely to France. This phenomenon is
especially prevalent amongst medical professionals.
As for remittances sent by Senegalese abroad, they have
increased from USD 233 million in 2000 to 1,192 billion in 2007,
which represents 10.7 per cent of the country's Gross Domestic
As a result, individual poverty in Senegal declined from 67 per
cent in 1995 to 50.6 per cent in 2005; however 66 per cent of
households surveyed consider themselves poor.
This may be seen in the context of an ever greater number of
Senegalese emigrating and related income disparities seen as a
result of remittances. A 60 per cent disparity in income was
reported between those households that receive remittances from
abroad and those that do not.
The IOM Migration Profile of Senegal, which is funded by the
European Union, the Belgian Development Cooperation and the Swiss
Federal Office for Migration, underlines the fact that Senegal has
neither a formal migration policy nor a structure dedicated to the
migration issue for determining and implementing the national
Similarly, the report notes that the management of migration is
entrusted to various ministries and development actors, carrying
out individual actions defined by their respective mandates, which
can lead to confusion.
However, the report acknowledges that the Senegalese Government
has made efforts on several fronts towards managing migration
flows, from bilateral agreements with France, Italy and Spain to
initiatives promoting employment for youth and for women.
The report notes that the Government of Senegal also seeks to
incorporate migration in development plans through current
initiatives such as job promotion involving emigrants in the
development of communities; improved labour management and the
establishment of an effective system for managing and monitoring
the Senegalese population living abroad.
The Government of Senegal is working with national and
international partners to implement programmes developing and
capitalizing on the skills of Senegalese emigrants abroad. These
are, the Migration for Development in Africa programme
(MIDA–Senegal), in partnership with IOM; the Transfer of
Knowledge Through Expatriate Nationals (TOKTEN) project, in
partnership with the United Nations Development Programme; and the
Co-development Initiative (by the Senegalese President's
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