More than one in every three Kenyan youths would leave the country to find a better job abroad, escape poverty or pursue an education if given a chance, a new survey has found.
The study conducted by a pan-African research network, AfroBarometer, reveals that at least 35 percent of Kenyan youth have at some point considered leaving the country to live abroad.
The research released yesterday was conducted in 33 other African countries.
"The most popular destination among potential emigrants is neither Europe nor North America, but another African country. This suggests that if you have a country near you that is thriving economically then you better move there so Europe should now start considering how to boost Africa's economic growth because clearly they may not have a lot of desire to go to Europe," Afrobarometer Executive Director Gyimah Boadi said.
Kenya was ranked 20th among the countries comprising youths who have high desire to migrate from Africa, behind its neighbours Uganda and Sudan where more people wanted to leave and stay abroad.
Cape Verde, where only 42 percent of the citizens want to stay, had lowest score, followed by Sierra Leone where 59 percent want to migrate and Gambia where 56 percent have thought about migrating. Togo and Sao Tome complete the five worst performers with 54 percent of residents in both countries angling to leave for a better life abroad.
Mauritius had the best record, according to the survey.
A 2017 World Bank survey found Kenya had the highest rate of youth unemployment in East Africa, with 17 percent of all young people eligible for work lacking jobs. Neighbouring Tanzania and Uganda had comparable rates of 5.5 and 6.8 percent respectively.
Mr Boadi said that contrary to popular belief that most Africans would like to move out of the continent, intra-continental migration is a fast-growing phenomenon.
The survey found that young adults and highly-educated citizens are most likely to consider leaving Africa, pointing to a potential brain drain on the continent.
Potential emigrants are also more numerous among men (40 percent) and urban residents (44 percent) than among women (35 percent) and rural dwellers (32 percent).
At 65 percent of its population not considering migration, Kenya ranks better compared to Nigeria where 64 percent want to stay. In Tanzania though, only 14 percent want to leave, ranking among the least countries where people want to migrate from. Madagascar reported only 13 percent of potential emigrants.
Europe still remains a strong attraction for African emigrants compared to North America with the two regions attracting 27 and 22 percent of potential emigrants from Africa.
"Migration in most cases is not a bad idea since both the destination country and the country of origin stand to benefit. Africa receives close to $34 billion every year from their emigrants living abroad. We however need a fundamental change on how we approach employment and traditional forms of agriculture to make people comfortable at home," said Jeffrey Labovitz, IOM Regional Director for East and Horn of Africa.