10 April 2019

East Africa Accounts for Least Number of Immigrants

Photo: Kate Thomas/IRIN
(file photo).

East Africa contributed the least number of immigrants to other continents despite widespread political instability in the region.

A new report by Afrobarometer says that only 10 per cent of East Africans want to migrate.

Central Africa is leading in immigration with 23 per cent of those interviewed wanting to migrate, followed by West Africa at 21 per cent, North Africa at 21 per cent and Southern Africa at 14 per cent.

Those considering migrating are mainly men living in urban areas aged between 16 and 35, with the main reasons being the search for greener pastures, escape from poverty, education, joining family members and pursuit for a democratic environment.

Afrobarometer is a pan-African research network that conducts public attitude surveys on democracy, governance, economic conditions and related issues across more than 30 countries in Africa.

The latest survey was conducted in 34 African countries with 45,823 interviews conducted between September 2016 and September 2018.

It shows that more than one-third of Africans have considered emigrating, though fewer leave.

The first choice of movement is within their respective regions, with Southern Africa having the fewest people who want to move out of their region.

In East Africa, Sudan is leading in the number of people who want to leave at 28 per cent of those interviewed.

Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania are at 13 per cent, 11 per cent and six per cent respectively.

Free movement

Due to interest in intra-regional migration and the pursuit of economic opportunity, a majority—56 percent—of Africans think people should be able to move freely across international borders within their region.

West Africa leads in allowing free movement across borders at 66 percent, East Africa at 64 per cent, Southern Africa at 51 per cent, Central Africa at 44 per cent and North Africa at 38 per cent.

The number of emigrants from each of these sub-Saharan countries grew by 50 per cent or more between 2010 and 2017.

A 2018 United Nations report says that despite significant economic growth in many African countries over the past two decades a substantial number of Africans still see leaving their country to seek a better future as their best option.

Willing to risk abuse and enslavement, death in the desert or at sea, and hardship upon arrival, African emigrants have placed themselves on front pages and political agendas around the world.

The report says that although only 14 per cent of the 258 million international migrants worldwide in 2017 were born in Africa, the sub-Saharan African nations account for eight of the 10 fastest-growing international migrant populations.

While migration can have positive effects—filling labour gaps in destination countries and producing remittances to help families back home—it can also have negative consequences.

Analysts have pointed to its drain on emerging economies and populist movements in the West have decried immigration as a threat to domestic employment, security, and national culture.

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