News & Media / Most African migrants move within the continent

Most African migrants move within the continent

19 June, 2019

Over the last few months, the Foundation has been discussing African migrations through our weekly blog series and social media platforms. Most recently, we hosted a workshop at the European Development Days (EDD) in Brussels titled African Migrations: Changing the narrative, to debate this highly topical subject. Using data from the Ibrahim Forum Report, we're highlighting misperceptions about global migration flows that often trigger strong emotional and political reactions.

One such misperception is the fact that most African migrants actually move within the continent – they are not overwhelming Europe or the rest of the world. The Forum Report shows that in 2017, 53.4% of all African migrants stayed in Africa, while 25.7% travelled to Europe and 12.2% to Asia. While the overwhelming majority (almost 90%) of North African migrants moved to Europe or Asia, over 70% of sub-Saharan African migrants moved within the continent.

African migrants who moved within the continent travelled mostly to or within East Africa (18.5% of African migrants) and West Africa (16.7%), while only 8.2% travelled to or within Central Africa, and 6.7% to or within Southern Africa. The lowest percentage (3.3%) travelled to or within North Africa.

Outside the continent, 25.7% of all African migrants head to Europe: in 2017, the European Union (EU) hosted 9.1 million African migrants, of which 5.1 million were from North Africa and 4 million from sub-Saharan Africa. France receives the largest share of external African migrants (10.5%), more than any African country. Asia is the second largest overseas host continent, with 4.4 million African migrants. The vast majority of these are temporary workers from Egypt and East Africa, living in the Gulf States and in Jordan, with very limited rights.

However, if given the choice more Africans would move overseas than within Africa. When asked by Afrobarometer to which country or region they would be most likely to go if migrating, 34.8% of Africans from 34 countries surveyed said they would move within the continent, while 48.4% said they would move to Europe or North America.