Economic migration: The push and pull factors


Economic migration: The push and pull factors

Those specifically dealing with EU/African migration issues include the Mediterranean Transit Migration (MTM) Dialogue; the Africa-EU Partnership on Migration, Mobility and Employment (MME); the Rabat Process; the Tripoli Declaration on Migration and Development; the Ouagadougou Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings, especially Women and Children; and the Ouagadougou Declaration and Plan of Action for Promotion of Employment and Poverty Alleviation.

The EU-Africa Summit held in Brussels in April earlier this year also adopted a Joint Declaration on Migration and Mobility and agreed to implement an Action Plan for the period 2014-2017.

The Declaration reads like a long “Rhetoric of Aspirations”:

– Fostering synergies between migration and development, including by reducing the costs of remittances.

– Enhancing the role and engagement of the diaspora and consolidating the African Institute for Remittances.

– Better organising intra and inter-regional labour mobility and that of business persons.

– Enhancing cooperation to address trafficking in human beings, notably by strengthening partnership and cooperation on prevention, protection and prosecution. Cooperating on irregular migration, addressing all its relevant aspects, including strengthened migration management, return and readmission as well as the promotion of alternatives to irregular migration.

Yet despite all the above Dialogues and Declarations, the push factors for economic migration from Africa remain very strong and attractive. 

The politics of economic migration are clouded by the economics and politics of migration data and statistics, whose compilation range from the relatively reliable but selective, to the ordinary, to the mediocre and even to blatant over-exaggeration and lies.

The World Bank data for 2011 (the latest complete data set) puts emigration from Africa at 30 million people. The major destinations of these migrants were France, Côte d’Ivoire, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, United States, United Kingdom, Spain and Italy.

Remittance inflows to Africa from migrants, according to the latest World Bank/African Development Bank report, Leveraging Migration for Africa – Remittances, Skills, and Investments, “quadrupled in the 20 years since 1990, reaching nearly $40bn (2.6 per cent of GDP) in 2010. They are the continent’s largest source of net foreign inflows after foreign direct investment (FDI).”

Another feature of African migration is the high rates of skilled migration, often referred to as “Africa’s brain drain”. In the 2000-2010 period, according to the World Bank, one out of every eight Africans with a university education lived in a country in the OECD, the highest rate among developing regions except the Caribbean, Central America, and Mexico.

According to Eurostat, migration into the EU in 2012 from non-EU member countries, totalled an estimated 1.7 million. Germany reported the largest number of immigrants (592,200) in 2012, followed by the United Kingdom (498,000), Italy (350,800), France (327,400) and Spain (304,100). Some 709,100 citizens of non-member countries residing in EU member states acquired EU citizenship in 2012, corresponding to a 4.3 per cent increase with respect to 2011.

As such, citizens of non-member countries accounted for 86.8 per cent of all persons who acquired EU citizenship in 2012. Of these, 25 per cent were from Africa.

Statistics about illegal migrants are even more difficult and controversial. One estimate puts the figure for illegal migrants waiting on the southern Mediterranean coast, hoping to embark for a better life, at over 610,000.

The official estimate for illegal immigrants in the UK is 640,000, although the right-wing lobby group, Migration Watch, puts this figure nearer to 1.2 million and the extreme right suggests over 2 million.

Figures are however, just that – figures. What needs to be done is to find solutions as that will cut them to size for the benefit of Africans at large. 

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