Images of thousands of African youth drowning in the Mediterranean, propelled by poverty or conflict at home and lured by the hope of jobs abroad, “have fed a misleading narrative that migration from Africa harms rather than helps the continent”.
“This report bursts this myth and takes aim at this preconceived notion and assesses the evidence to identify policy pathways that harness the benefits of African migration and mitigate its negative effects,” declared UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi in a report released Thursday.
UNCTAD is the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, and Kituyi along with Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the UN’s Economic Commission (UN ECA), have jointly launched UNCTAD’s 2018 Economic Development in Africa Report, which also highlights the importance of intra-African migration for deeper regional and continental integration.
Subtitled “Migration and Structural Transformation in Africa”, the UNCTAD report says that contrary to some perceptions, most migration in Africa today is taking place within the continent.
The report noted that in 2017, 19 million out of 41 million international migrants moved within Africa; 17 million Africans left the continent, and that the gap is narrowing.
Africa is also a migration destination for 5.5 million people who came from outside the continent, according to the UNCTAD report.
“Migration benefits both origin and destination countries across Africa,” said Kituyi.
The report argues that African migration can play a key role in the structural transformation of the continent’s economies.
Well-managed migration also provides an important means for helping to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, both in Africa and beyond, said Kituyi.
The report offers new insights for African governments, as well as for migration stakeholders outside the continent as it seeks to remedy knowledge gaps on the relationship between migration, economic and trade policies.
The UNCTAD secretary-general said over 53 percent of migration is within Africa and the rest outside the continent.
Migrants in general go with innovative skills and are above average entrepreneurs to seek business opportunities that raise public revenue by paying taxes for the economy of a destination country, he added.
In launching UNCTAD’s 2018 “Economic Development in Africa Report 2018”, UNECA’s Songwe said “migration within the continent is not a problem.”
According to her, “the GDP per capita for Africa for migration is over 3000 USD, and that is higher than the GDP per capita produced on the continent overall.”
Ms. Songwe said the UNCTAD report was timely and informative, adding that it will go a long way in enriching on-going consultations on the Global Compact for Migration, especially as it plugs the information or data gaps in the current migration narrative.