Reflections on international migration and development in sub-Saharan Africa

  • Aderanti Adepoju World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Migration Human Resources Development Centre


This reflective article sketches the specificity of migratory flows in sub-Saharan Africa, which is essentially intra-regional. While changing dynamically, the distinctive features include increasing female migration, diversification of migration destinations, transformation of labour flows into commercial migration, and emigration of skilled health and other professionals. These migrations take place largely within the context of sub-regional economic unions which are dominated by the economies of a single country, and movements of persons have been directed to a limited number of countries within these unions. Emigration pressure is fuelled by unstable politics, poverty and rapidly growing populations. In general, remittances have been rising steeply and are an important source of income for many poor countries and serve as lifeline to pay for basic services, health care, education of siblings and children and to enhance agricultural production. Yet, millennium development goals and other development agendas are being compromised by the emigration of scarce skilled manpower. A major challenge now facing the region is how to retain, attract back and effectively utilise the rare skills of nationals living abroad for national development. The paper concludes by stressing the need for rich countries to help poor African countries foster local development, reduce poverty and create domestic employment in the spirit of co-responsibility.