Although it was generally assumed that African migration flows are mainly directed toward Europe, existing evidence indicates that most migration in West Africa happens within the region and remains extensively intra-African.
Mr Frantz S. Celestin, Programme Manager, International Organisation for Migration (IOM), speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Accra on Tuesday, revealed that a study showed that over 80 per cent of migration took place within the space of the 15 member states of the Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS).
In addition, he disclosed that less than five per cent of people who migrate from West Africa headed towards Europe, while nine per cent migrates within the rest of Africa.
‘West Africa has attracted widespread media attention on migration flows towards Europe and their inherent tragedies. Migration contributes to the regional integration process in West Africa by enhancing trade, commerce and enabling people-to-people contact from different societies,’ he noted.
Giving a further description of the situation, Mr Celestin explained that a recent IOM Displacement Track Matrix exercise identified 704, 000 migrants in Libya with 63 per cent of the migrants being from Sub-Saharan Africa.
Touching on what was pushing people, especially the youth out of their countries to Europe; he cited economic reasons, family reunification, employability, and education.
‘Compared to other parts of Africa, a ‘culture of migration’ is an important driver in a number of countries and it can be argued that it is an underlying driver for migration in the whole region, Mr. Celestin said.
According to the Programme Manager, West Africa’s population is expected to double by 2050, and African development was predicted to increase in the future.
Migration transition theories, expected demographic pressures, social transformations, and increased development he explained, would foster migration streams by increasing the capabilities and aspirations of individuals to migrate.
He added that migration flows within the region and beyond was expected to increase.
‘Therefore, going forward, a more realistic, informed, and long-term approach toward migration in the future is vital to better manage human migration flows within and outside of West and Central Africa,’ he said.