With Covid-19-related travel restrictions curtailed or lifted in most African countries, the issue of population movement and migratory flows – both within Africa and towards other regions, including the Middle East and Europe – has returned to the forefront of policy debates in the continent. The number of migrants is also increasing and may even exceed pre-pandemic levels. This is happening against the backdrop of profound economic, political, social, technological and environmental changes, including the impact of the war in Ukraine on African countries’ economic recovery and food security. These developments give rise to a number of questions: what are the likely changes in migration patterns, what will the geography of African migration look like by the end of this decade, and what are the repercussions for the partnership between the African Union (AU) and the European Union (EU)?
This Brief presents two foresight scenarios on migration and mobility for Africa. The first, an optimistic trajectory, envisages a continent on the move, with visa-free travel for all Africans, and expanded legal pathways to Europe and other destinations. Intra-African migration grows rapidly as free movement protocols are implemented, as does infrastructure development. The second is a pessimistic scenario, foreseeing a ‘contained continent’, where African citizens still need visas to travel to over 50 % of other African countries. More immigration restrictions have been imposed by both African and non-African states to limit the mobility of would-be irregular migrants, leaving Africans with no option but to resort to irregular migration routes.
Policy action discussed in the third section could facilitate or impede the emergence of either of the scenarios. The conclusion considers some policy implications, especially for the AU-EU partnership on migration and mobility.