Migration has become a staple of the news in many countries, filled with images of desperate Africans fleeing an impoverished continent, poised to descend on the West. These reports are not necessarily false, and they can be valuable in highlighting the human stories of migration but they are not a good basis for helpful action.
Politicians push myths and half-truths to score points but policymakers interested in addressing the complex issues around migration need data that can help them understand who, where, and why and therefore what an appropriate and targeted response might look like. Surely migration is not the same in Malawi and Morocco?
In addition to official figures, one source of useful data is ordinary Africans – the source, after all, of all African migration. In its Round 7 public-attitude surveys (2016/2018), the research network Afrobarometer asked more than 45,000 Africans in 34 countries how they see and think about migration.
Engaging with the data and scratching beneath the surface of existing narratives are essential if we are to move beyond ‘stronger borders’ and other simplistic, one-size-fits-all ‘solutions’. While statistical data help to reposition the discussion on migration and to cool down debates about ‘mass migration’, perception data contribute to understanding intentions and motivations. Together they form a strong basis for informing areas for policy action.
This co-authored research paper showcases the main findings of Afrobarometer research and the latest facts and figures of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation report “Africa’s youth: jobs or migration?”