Africa: Does Africa Need a New Narrative On Migration?


A new narrative on migration in Africa is emerging. It challenges and debunks commonly held perceptions and myths about African migration and African migrants, revealing that most people are not crossing seas and oceans to migrate, but rather crossing land borders in their quest for greener pastures.

In fact, 94% of people who do cross seas and oceans from African countries to reach other destinations do so through regular channels. According to the first-ever “Africa Migration Report,” these people are mostly business travelers and students, taking planes and passing through airports and official land borders. It reveals an unknown and underreported reality – that African migration is predominantly intra-African, contrary to the often horrific, dramatic, and sensationalized impression of irregular migration from Africa across the Mediterranean Sea.

It also finds that Africans only account for 14% of the global migrant population, Asians account for 41%, and Europeans account for 24%.

An Africa-specific migration report emerged in order to address key distortions that continue to characterize public discourse on African migration – the culmination of nearly three years of collaborative work between the International Organization for Migration, the UN Migration Agency, and the African Union Commission. Discussing issues from labor and the environment, to children’s and human rights, the report – published in October – seeks to leverage the African migration agenda toward continental development and integration.

Against the stated goal of challenging false narratives around African migration with facts and data, three points and challenges are worth highlighting: