Man is an animal suspended in webs of significance that he himself has spun...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

People on the Move in Africa

Perspective time.  When we spend most of our day looking at international migration in our home regions (and all the politics around it), we can completely miss what is going on in other parts of the world.

For example, did you know that there are very high levels of international migration going on right now in Africa?  And it's not Africans moving to Europe or North America, it's Africans moving within Africa.

According to the Migration Policy Institute:
In 2010, the number of international migrants residing in African countries reached nearly 19.3 million, a 21 percent increase from the 16 million migrants recorded in 1990, according to estimates from the UN Population Division. While a small percentage of these international migrants (defined as persons residing outside their country of birth or nationality, including refugees) come from other regions of the world, such as Asia and Europe, the vast majority are people moving to different countries within the African continent itself. 
MPI has some very good dynamic charts (shades of Hans Rosling) up on their website that trace the movement of people in different African countries from 1990 to 2010.  Click "Play" on the bottom left quadrant of the chart to see the movement or run your mouse over the dots to see what country is being tracked.  There is also a regional view here.

I'll let you look at that at your leisure but here are some quick stats from MPI to give you an idea of how dramatic some of the changes are:
  • Western Africa had the largest migration gain - a whopping 74% increase from 4.8 million in 1990 to 8.4 million in 2010. Benin, for example, saw a 204% hike (from 76,000 to 232,000) 
  • In Southern Africa, Botswana had highest percent increase between 1990 and 2010: 317%
  • Two other regions, North Africa and East Africa, experienced a decline in international migration. In Morocco, for example, migration declined 15%.
And once you have absorbed all that information about migration within the African continent it's worth going back to the MPI World Migration Map (a really nifty tool) and checking out African immigration around the world. Where do the 30.6 million African migrants go worldwide?  Well, as we said before, they prefer to stay relatively close to home with other countries in Africa being their preferred destinations.  But of those who decide to leave the continent, Europe is their first choice and then Asia and then North America in fourth place.

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