All migration trends are not troublesome

PHOTO: reuters

PHOTO: reuters

Despite losing a chunk of its working population abroad; migration may not exactly paint a picture of despair, from the African point of view. Indeed, if the words of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Social Development Policy Division, Ms. Takyiwaa Manuk, were any yardstick, migrants could be, and are often, valuable assets to their home countries. With the current polemical debate and concerns around migration policies globally, when do the migrants become valuable assets? Her position, delivered yesterday, found support in the views of many of the experts’ discussions in the ongoing African Development Week in Addis Ababa. Addressing the challenge of international migration on the continent, Ms. Manuk, offered that the dominant image of European countries being flooded by migrants from Africa, does not say it all. Recent media coverage and research on irregular migration, as well as, the high death toll amongst those crossing the Mediterranean, according to her, have falsely reinforced the belief that African migration is essentially directed towards Europe. “Migration streams within Africa are much larger than those out of Africa,” Manuk said.
“About 31 million Africans have migrated internationally. This is about 3 percent of the continent’s population. More than half of those migrating internationally do so within Africa, with only about 28 percent of migrants from Africa going to Europe. Of total migrant stock in Europe, less than 12 percent are from Africa,” she explained.
According to ECA research, remittance inflows to Africa quadrupled between 1990 and 2010, reaching nearly USD49 billion in 2010. This is equivalent to, on average, 2,6 percent of Africa’s GDP.
The proportion of remittances invested in food, health and education ranged from 30 percent in Kenya and 37 percent in Nigeria to 47 percent in Burkina Faso and 67 percent in Senegal.
Consequently, it does appear that international migration has tremendous potential to improve development and welfare in countries of origin. Manuk urged countries to embrace regional integration and border management in order to facilitate migration and visa-free travel for Africans in Africa. She further appealed for consultative processes in designing policies that secure the benefits of migration at global and regional levels, with involvement of the countries of destination and of origin.

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