Migration is so multifaceted that it necessitates a complete systems study to fully appreciate its dynamics, which go beyond its demographic, economic, and geographical aspects.
In this age of instantaneous globalization, migration is a dynamic phenomenon, and Africa may be unique among other continents in this regard. A complicated network of variables drives migration across the continent, including an unfathomably enormous number of individuals.
Economic opportunities, political instability, conflict, natural disasters, and climate change are just a few of the factors that drive migration. Furthermore, it takes into account the impact of time and other elements on human behavior as well as the situations that influence decisions. Migration within, to, and from Africa is a significant demographic shift that is strongly linked to broader social, economic, and political developments.
The African Union (AU) has enacted a number of legislative and policy instruments, including the “African migration policy framework,” which attempts to manage both voluntary and forced migration on the continent.
Labor migration, irregular migration, forced displacement, migrant human rights, intra-African mobility, and interstate collaboration on migration and development are all covered under the thematic migration approach.
Despite the lack of implementation, the AU’s initiatives are held in high regard.
The Migration Policy Framework and the African Common Position call on member states to implement policies that protect and promote the human rights of migrants, such as eliminating prejudice, encouraging civic education, and raising awareness. It also asks that member countries “harmonize national legislation with the AU migration policy framework to ensure migrants’ rights.”
The AU frameworks also have significant institutional, intellectual, and political shortcomings that make holding member states responsible impossible. As a result, current policies must be updated in order to create an institutional structure that will give the necessary guidance and drive intra-African migration in order to accomplish the vision.
As migration practices become more regulated and institutionalized, the benefits of enhanced trade and economic integration within Africa will grow.
The full benefit of labor mobility can be realized if national governments are able to efficiently manage and organize the flow of migrants’ fundamental rights throughout their entire stay. Unfortunately, as a result of the commercialization and dehumanization of both legal and illicit migration, migrants traveling to other parts of Africa are frequently extorted, tortured, and exploited.
“Many people refer to them as ‘illegal’ immigrants, which I disagree with. As far as I’m concerned, there are no illegal human beings,” Dennis Kucinich stated.
A number of views and methodologies can be forwarded in an attempt to investigate how African politicians understand migration and immigration policies. In this sense, migration as a result of economic gain, intra-African social solidarity, and the inevitability of a borderless Africa will be highlighted. Apart from these, the number of people who relocate to a country or city demonstrates not just how appealing it is to economic migrants but also to investors.
What is the lowest number of persons moving within Africa that goes beyond African countries’ closed-door border policies? I suggest that a closed-door immigration policy reflects a misunderstanding of the immense benefits of migrating individuals or communities.
There is also the “fear of the unknown,” which is linked to the negative perception of persons who are not native to the place. Colonial myths and preconceptions continue to shape postcolonial African connections among Africans.
The tragic footage of African refugees and migrants drowning in the Mediterranean Sea portrays the catastrophic sociopolitical scenario in Africa. In recent years, awful images of migrant misery, including drowning at sea and xenophobia and afrophobia, have captivated the world’s attention, compelling many governments to respond.
These photographs likewise create the impression of a crumbling and desolate land. The young and strong are so desperate to escape that they are willing to risk their lives in order to pursue a better life elsewhere.
On the other hand, economic data from Africa paint a picture of a continent on the move, enjoying unprecedented economic development and promise. How can such a paradox be reconciled?
Understanding the trends and underlying reasons of illegal migration from Africa to Europe is critical for developing an effective immigration strategy and shaping immigration legislation. Conversely, it’s important to talk about what steps African leaders can take to improve intra-African collaboration.
Intra-African migration has long defined human mobility on the African continent, but individuals have yet to figure out how to capitalize on the phenomenon. This reality has a long history that spans several centuries, dating back to precolonial, colonial, and postcolonial times.
Africans have moved seasonally and cyclically throughout various epochs, and they have also migrated to and permanently established themselves in other places that offered better prospects for survival and success. African migration has historically included both internal and external forced movements.
According to studies, immigrants boost the host country’s economy in terms of increased output and employment, as well as the creation of new job opportunities. They supply the skills required for economic growth, generate new ideas, promote transnational trade, and contribute positively to the country’s long-term economic development.
Rethinking Africa’s migration policy: Border management necessitates innovative thinking
The problem of social and cultural differences between African states persists beyond the continent’s traditional borders. Cross-border migration in Africa can lead to severe xenophobia, which can lead to violent and lethal attacks.
The most essential question remains unanswered: When will African countries shift from “strict physical border control to creating administrative borders”?
Africa’s governments have yet to coordinate their efforts to stimulate intra-continental migration with the aim of engaging in investment operations. This has an impact on African commerce and investment, which haven’t altered significantly in recent years.
“Migration reflects the human need for dignity, safety, and a better future. It is a part of the social fabric, a part of who we are as a human family,” Ban Ki-moon once said.
All Africans, regardless of their origins, appearance, or religion, should be able to find peace and happiness in Africa. Regardless of the symbolic rhetoric for greater African unity, it is critical that Africans who migrate to other African countries feel comfortable and at home and are not seen as aliens.
Paradoxically, the same African nations are busily securing and fortifying their respective borders. In reality, this act is opposed to the future ratification of “the African Continental Free Trade Area” and the establishment of a single African economic society.
Attracting immigrants benefits economy, social development
Migration is a feature of many nations’ social and economic realities, yet the demographics of migrant populations can appear extremely different from one nation to the next. Migrants contribute talents and help the countries to which they migrate grow their human capital and improve their technology.
As a result, immigrants are neither a drain on the public budget nor a panacea for the country’s financial troubles; rather, they are a mixed bag. Immigration that is well-planned can benefit many areas, such as health care and education, and should not be viewed as a burden.
The influx of new residents is beneficial to the economic progress of any recipient country. We have seen that, despite the best efforts of certain African countries to build pushback mechanisms for migrants, there is ultimately no way to turn the tide.
Despite numerous studies on the subject, misunderstanding regarding the economic benefits of immigration may nevertheless contribute to widespread hostility toward migrants. In view of the looming economic and demographic difficulties, these pessimistic views threaten to disrupt national efforts to reform migration policies.
“A refugee’s belongings aren’t the only thing he brings to his new nation,” Albert Einstein reportedly stated.
Migrant populations play an important part in the economic development of any country, as has been demonstrated in a variety of ways in a number of countries. We have seen the US, the most powerful nation on the planet, built by an immigrant society.
The advantage of a migrant community is not just its strength on the economic, military, and political fronts but also its ability to flourish socio-culturally.
Consider the French national football team without any of its immigrant players as a perfect example of the positive effects immigration has on a country. Imagining economic, political, and military supremacy without Albert Einstein, a German physicist, Chinua Achebe, a Nigerian novelist, and Madeleine Albright, a Czech politician, is similarly difficult.
Anousheh Ansari (Iran) is an astronaut; Nicola Tesla (Croatia) is an inventor; Steve Chen (Taiwan) founded YouTube; Iman (Somalia) is a supermodel; Sundar Pichai (India) is a Google executive; and Elon Musk (South Africa) is an inventor and entrepreneur, are among some that migrated to other countries.
African countries should be considered not only through the prism of a refugee’s origin but also as potential destinations. Because the population of a country is a vital component of economic growth, welcoming newcomers is a positive dynamic for economic development.
Countries with greater populations will invariably have more prospects for advancement than those with smaller populations. Nigeria has the most people in Africa as of this writing, followed by Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, and South Africa.
African governments should respect their inhabitants’ mobility rights in order to encourage intra-African migration. While non-Africans’ access to the African continent remains largely uncontrolled, more stringent internal boundaries inhibit sensible migration and growth inside the continent.
Even though migration and mobility are crucial for the continent’s unity and prosperity, this demonstrates that they must be better understood and controlled for the benefit of its people. Rather than closing borders and retreating to a state-centric worldview, migration management appears to require rethinking and reimagining beyond the limits of a nation-state. Everyone is accountable for protecting migrants’ rights, especially the right to life, whether they are here lawfully or not.
Finally, Africa must develop comprehensive regional implementation and monitoring systems for intra-African migration in order to enhance how regional and sub-regional policies are implemented at the national level. It is also critical to identify and agree on the various internal immigration aims and priorities of AU member states so that policies can be devised to satisfy these objectives.
Having a better knowledge of the actual patterns and trends of intra-African migration would help policymakers better align with the continent’s migratory reality. And understanding how to appropriately apply the principles of migration policy is beneficial for sociocultural and regional integration.
(Seife Tadelle Kidane (PhD) is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Pan African Thought and Conversation (IPATC); Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Johannesburg.)
Contributed by Seife Tadelle