The Six Trendsetters in African Migration and Mobility

Originally Published on Trends Research and Advisory

Migration and mobility dynamics vary in and across countries and regions of the continent.[1] Since 2000, the number of African migrants living outside Africa and those migrating within Africa has increased significantly. The number of African migrants outside their country of origin has almost doubled since 2010 to nearly 41 million people.[2] In 2020, around 21 million of these Africans were living in another African country, while 19.5 million were outside the continent.[3] Of the 281 million international migrants in 2020, Asian migrants constituted 40% of the total migrants, while 14.4% were Africans who had migrated within or outside the continent.[4] This constitutes an increase of 5.5 million African migrants in five years, which is a noteworthy change from five years earlier, in 2015, when this share was 14.1%.[5] In 2020, 56.4% of African migrants (11 million) were residing in Europe, while 25.6% (5 million) and 15.4% (3 million) were living in Asia and North America, respectively.[6] Europe is the largest destination for international migrants, followed by Asia, North America, and Africa, which hosts 9% of the total international migrants.[7]

Between 2015 and 2020, the average annual increase in African migration within Africa was 600,000. Africans living outside Africa also grew at an average of 500,000 per annum, from 17 million in 2015 to 19.5 million in 2020.[8] During the same period, remittances rose by around 10% until 2018. After an 8.1% decline in 2020, remittance inflows to Africa bounced back and increased by 14.1% in 2021.[9]

Globally, there are a record 59.1 million internally displaced persons (IDPs)[10] and 37.4 million refugees and asylum seekers.[11] In 2010, there were 10.5 million refugees and 14.7 million IDPs.[12] Africa, too, witnessed a significant increase in both external and internal displacement due to conflicts and disasters. In 2018, there were 24 million displaced persons in Africa, which comprised 17.7 million IDPs and 6.3 million refugees.[13]  In 2022, many of the conflict hotspots and climatic shocks remain significant sources of displacement as the structural causes remain poorly addressed. Political instability and conflict are increasing, and with it displacement rates are rising. This trend is highly likely to continue, given the impact of climate shocks and conflicts.

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